As CES comes around, it was 30 years ago at that show that one of the most incredible machines was introduced. It was a computer that I spent hundreds of hours on in my childhood. It was a machine that was THE machine to get if you wanted to play games. That, my friend, was the Commodore 64.
This 8-bit wonder with 64k of memory was a compact computer with loads of software and fans. Released in August of 1982, I remember my brother bringing it home, not knowing why he was so excited to have bought one. Little did I know how much this little purchase would influence my life.
I remember my brother bringing home various computer magazines and in the back were programs that you could enter in, line by line, and have working applications. The two I remember most are a dancing mouse and a word processor. Can you believe that? The source code was printed in the magazine and all you had to do was pull up an editor, type in the code, and you'd have a working word processor all for the cost of a magazine. The dancing mouse was just damn cute back when I was a kid. It was the beginnings of what would eventually lead to my career of being a software developer.
Some of my fondest memories was sitting inside during the harsh winters of Cleveland and playing games like Bard's Tale, Ultima 3, Mail Order Monster, and M.U.L.E. I would just sit there with my various boxes of 5 1/4 disks and tapes and get lost for hours on end. The amount of games available for the C64 was huge, but the pirate scene for that system was huge as well. I remember hearing about swap meets where folks would just bring their computers and disks and swap/copy games for each other.
It wasn't long before I was lost in another one of Commodore's greatest machines: the Amiga 1000. That's for another story, but one small fact that some people might not know about that machine is that pilot's visual effects were rendered by a bank of Amigas.
You can pick up a modern computer that looks like a Commodore 64 today and throw on an emulator for some nostalgic fun. Also, check out Lemon64, a great site on all the games and music that were available for the system. You can even download some of the games to be played on emulators as well.
So, happy anniversary Commodore 64. You helped make me what I am today. I still listen to your MIDI music and I still enjoy some of the the games on my tablet to this day.