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LOAD “$”,8,1 – what it means

I’ve been seeing some references to LOAD “$”,8,1 lately. I think this is due to Commodore 64s making appearances in pop culture. If you’re wondering what this curious command means, I’ll explain it.

In this case, the ,1 at the end was unnecessary. It does no harm, but the command LOAD “$”,8 works just fine. This is the Commodore DOS command to load the disk directory. After the command finishes and you get the READY prompt, type LIST to see what’s on your disk.

Then, to load the program you want you type LOAD “FILENAME”,8 if it’s a Basic program. You type LOAD “FILENAME”,8,1 if it’s a program written in 6502 machine language. If you’re not sure, using ,8,1 is usually safe. I explained more about the nuances of the load command in my writeup about the other common load command, LOAD”*”,8,1 and about disk drive device numbers in my writeup on how to hook up Commodore disk drives.

I’m not sure how many of us actually typed LOAD “$”,8,1 in the 1980s. We were kids. Most of us didn’t type very well, and we were impatient. We didn’t like those extra keystrokes. So we left out what we could. As commenter Anthony pointed out below, you could abbreviate the load command as L-shift-O. In the Commodore character set, the shift-O looked like the corner of a box.

If you’re curious about other Commodore 64 commands, I have a list of those as well.

And if you happen to be curious about what happened to Commodore, I have the numbers behind its implosion too. Commodore sold millions of computers but turned excessive executive pay into an art form. So the company peaked around 1984, followed with a nice bump around 1987, and in seven years it was gone. Millions of guys like me grew up using them. I’m glad these machines are getting some attention now. But I still wonder about what might have been.

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2 thoughts on “LOAD “$”,8,1 – what it means”

  1. You could abbreviate load as L shift+O which looked like a rounded corner.. Was it the 8 or the 1 that was the device signifier, such that if you had another drive, it’d be a different number?

    1. 8 signified the device, and 1 indicated it was a machine language program. A second drive would have been device 9. Leaving off the 1 indicated a Basic program. LOAD”$”,8 or, as you observe, its abbreviation, was sufficient, since the disk directory loaded like a Basic program. I have a post about Commodore drives that explains the device numbers; I’ll add a link to that. Thanks for the reminder.

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