A History of Gaming Platforms: The Commodore 64
October 24, 2007 Page 6 of 6
Because the C64 was such a ubiquitous platform throughout most of the 1980s and into the early 1990s, finding a unit in working or even mint condition is not a problem. Obviously, since so much software was released in disk form, a collector will also want to add a disk drive -- perhaps a Commodore 1571, which is more versatile and quieter than the 1541. Collectors who aren’t nostalgic for the old breadbox styling of the early C-64 would do well to look for a C64c. In any case, a patient collector should be able to find a full system in good working order for under $30.
The much rarer portable SX-64 is hard to find in decent condition for less than $75, with mint condition units starting around $150. The C128 by itself can be found for under $40, but a working C128D easily surpasses $100. The C128 line is preferred by some C64 enthusiasts for their more reliable and capable power supplies (which readily support memory expansion cartridges) and greater overall capabilities, but the trade-offs in extra bulk, complexity, and 100 percent compatibility may not be worth it for those just looking to play games.
Software is easy to find for the C64, though prices range widely depending on the relative obscurity and desirability of the individual game. Many games, though, can be had for under $10, and there are plenty of opportunities to purchase large collections of diverse titles for very reasonable prices, even at the various auction websites.
Emulation is very mature and well implemented on a variety of platforms. Various online software repositories are readily accessible, and it’s easy to get support from the large community of enthusiasts that still exist for the platform. The most popular emulation software is VICE, which also works well for other Commodore 8-bit platforms, like the VIC 20 and PET.
In 2004, the Commodore 64 30-in-1 was released, a battery powered plug-and-play TV Game joystick that functioned almost exactly like a real C64. It’s still available for less than $15 and the authentic C64 experience can be simulated with the built-in selection of more than 30 games. The device can also be hacked for use with a keyboard and Commodore disk drive.
New hardware and software developments are taking place all the time, including cables and small devices that make the transfer of software and files to and from a modern computer quick and simple. In short, as with the other great systems to be covered in this series, the C64 will never truly be obsolete -- just older and more distinguished.
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