The Commodore 64 (C64) is perhaps the best known 8-bit computing
platform ever designed, rivaled only by the Apple II in terms of
popularity and longevity. Within a few short years after its
introduction in 1982, the Commodore 64 dominated the low-end computer
market, receiving a steady stream of software and peripheral support
that lasted through the decade.
In 1985, Commodore followed up with the lesser
known Commodore 128 (C128), a technically superior machine that
failed to win over the massive base of C64 fans and developers.
Commodore 64 (C64) wasn't Commodore's first foray into the home
computer industry. In 1977, Commodore had earned some recognition
with its ground-breaking PET, which went through several iterations
over the years and was quite popular in schools.
The PET was followed
by the VIC 20 in 1981, the direct ancestor of the C64. The VIC 20
was a smashing success, eventually selling millions of units and
establishing Commodore's reputation for making highly capable
computers at prices that rivaled the era's videogame consoles. “Why
buy a videogame when you can have a computer?,” asked Star
Trek’s William Shatner in a famous series of print and
The legendary Commodore 64
Still, although the VIC 20 was a great
value for the budget-conscious, its limitations were onerous for many
enthusiasts. They wanted a more powerful machine and were willing to
pay extra to get it. Commodore heard their call, and the first C64
went straight from the assembly lines to the headlines. The personal
computer industry would never be the same.
C64’s unprecedented success demonstrated, once and for all, that
there was a strong and viable market for inexpensive personal
computers that could run the latest videogames. Today, tens of
thousands of avid C64 fans publish websites, populate online forums,
run C64 games in emulators, and develop new homebrew software and
other products for the system. There are even bands who specialize in
arranging old Commodore favorites for the pub and bar crowds. For
countless fans of the system, the "Commie" is still the
best personal computer ever to grace the living room.
Besides being featured in countless general videogame and computer magazines, the Commodore 64 series of systems had magazines devoted specifically to the platform, like the pictured Ahoy!, Run, Compute!'s Gazette and Commodore Microcomputers publications
a 12-year production cycle from 1982 to 1994, Commodore managed to
sell over 17 million C64 computers worldwide, and software
developers and publishers released over 10,000 commercial programs.
Obviously, the C64 played a definitive role in the evolution of
computer gaming -- especially since the C64’s low price and
subsequent popularity may well have played a small role in The Great
Videogame Crash of 1984. Commodore saw the line in the silicon
between computers and consoles and didn't just step over it -- they