June 21 2005

Walking down memory lane

I stumbled on this picture over at today.

Commodore 64

Yes boys and girls, this is a Commodore 64, this is what my very first computer looked like. It consisted of a keyboard only at first. The os (operating system), if you can really call it that, was hard wired into it. You would then plug it into either a Commodore moniter (pictured here) or a special tv/moniter set that were pretty expensive at the time. If you wanted to get really fancy, you would add on a 5.25″ floppy drive…the big honking thing to the side there, that, I swear, weighed 10 lbs all on it’s own.

This was cutting edge technology in the 1980’s folks. The 64 stood for 64 kilobytes of RAM (Random Access Memory). You read that right…64 kilobytes. Compared to a computer’s minimum now of 256 megabytes, that means a standard computer today is running 262,144 kilobytes. (thank you!) Don’t even try to ponder what computers with 1 – 4 gigabytes of RAM have in comparison!

The fun thing about the C64 (as most of us called it), was that anyone could write a program in BASIC (a computer language) with it. You could do simple programs, or rather lengthy complex ones. I think everyone who ever owned a C64 though did this one:

10 PRINT “Hello”
20 Goto 10

You would enter “RUN” and the screen would print out Hello over and over again until you stopped it. Hours of fun I tell ya! Of course, if you didn’t have the behemoth floppy drive to save it to, you lost the program you had written once you turned it off, but oh well. Not a big problem if you were just doing small things like the one I just showed you, but if you wanted to write a big long program, you really needed the floppy drive. (something I did not have for a year or two after I got the C64….can you tell I was bitter?)

The C64 was also the first time I entered the online world. Armed with a mighty 9600 baud modem, I called up CompuServe for the first time in September 1986. (id# 71211,2513 just in case you were wondering! ) I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was then I started playing with the internet, and have obviouslly, never looked back.

This memory kick-start couldn’t have come at a more intriguing time though. My new computer shipped to me today and I got my laptop back from the repair shop yesterday. I have computers on the brain, so it’s kind of fun to walk down memory lane and remember where most of us got our start. Wikipedia (one of the greatest resources on the web I tell ya!) has a lengthy, and fascinating entry on the C64 that you can read here if you want to know more. One thing that entry mentions that I had forgotten, when the C64 first came out, the price was…$595.

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