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A History of Gaming Platforms: The Commodore 64

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A History of Gaming Platforms: The Commodore 64

October 24, 2007 Article Start Page 1 of 6 Next
 

Summary 

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.

History

The 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 television advertisements.


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.

The 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

During 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 erased it.

 


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Comments


Anonymous
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What the hell people. Why put "ratings" with this article, but not on the Apple one? 3.0 and 3.5 on graphics and audio? Are you insane? Its capabilities were top notch at the time and programmers continually pushed its abilities via SOFTWARE HACKS. At one point there were even demos showcasing graphics at double the hardware resolution limit! The hardware 8 sprite limit was broken, with some programmers being able to display over 100!



The system even had some amazing music with digitized sound. (Something that the hardware was not designed to support, but programmers found a way. (Meanwhile the NES couldn't even do it!) Meanwhile, the Apple and IBM computers could only display monochrome, or if you could afford the graphics card, 8 really ugly colors .



And 17 million sold worldwide? Wrong! Initially they had 17 million in sales in North America when it was popular. It continued to sell. In its lifetime they sold over 30 million worldwide.

Craig Hamilton
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You can't say enough good things about the C64. I couldn't get one until the remodeled C64C. Same hardware, modern (at the time) look. Some of the best memories in my life are playing the Commodore. (Hey Taxi!)

James Hoysa
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...

John Ingrams
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Still have my Commodore 64, still have my 60 odd disk games all packaged as new still (I look after them!) despite being 25 years old, my 300 odd tape games and loads of C64 magazines like Zzap. I still play my Commodore regularly, 3-4 hours a week minimum!



Of course, the fact I am typing this means I also have a PC, but even there I prefer the older DOS games, like Daggerfall, Darklands and Terra Nova; Task Force Centauri!



The Commodore 64 will never die, not something you can say about the non backward compatible PS3 and 360!


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