Commodore Plus 4 and Commodore 16

Commodore Plus 4 and Commodore 16

Dan Bowman kindly pointed me to former Commodore engineer Bil Herd’s discussion of the ill-fated Commodore TED machines on Hackaday. Here in the States, few remember the TED specifically, but some people may remember that oddball Commodore Plus 4 that closeout companies sold for $79 in 1985 and 1986. The Commodore Plus 4 was one of those TED machines. So was the Commodore 16.

What went wrong with those machines? Commodore miscalculated what the home computer market was doing. The TED was a solution to too many problems, and ended up not solving any of them all that well. Arguably it’s more popular with vintage computer enthusiasts today than it was in the 1980s. Read more

CPU vs core, or core vs processor

CPU vs core, or core vs processor

Here’s a good question I heard the other day: What’s the difference between a CPU and cores, or the difference between the number of CPUs and the number of cores in a system? The CPU vs core or core vs processor distinction, it turns out, is subtle.

As far as the operating system is concerned, there is no difference, but I’ll explain why. For you, there might be a difference.

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What to look for in a motherboard

What to look for in a motherboard

I’ve been building PCs for more than 20 years and I tend to keep them a very long time, so it occurred to me that someone might be interested in what I look for in a motherboard to ensure both a long, reliable life and a long useful life.

Technology has changed a lot but what I look for has remained surprisingly consistent over the years.

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Commodore 64 operating system

Commodore 64 operating system

The Commodore 64 didn’t have an operating system in the traditional sense that we now think of one. It most certainly did have a method of interacting with the user and handling I/O, including disk files. But the way it all worked seems strange today. Here’s what made the native Commodore 64 operating system different, and the alternatives that surfaced during the 64’s long life.

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Nintendo NES AC adapter replacement

Nintendo NES AC adapter replacement

If you misplaced the AC adapter/power supply that came with your Nintendo NES, or it broke, you may need a replacement Nintendo NES AC adapter. Fortunately, you have a number of options.

Most devices are super picky about electricity. Don’t use random AC adapters as a general practice. What I’m about to say applies to the original Nintendo NES console, and the original NES only. I have general advice on replacing AC adapters that applies to other devices.

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Commodore RAM expansion units

Commodore RAM expansion units

The 6502-family CPUs in Commodore 8-bit computers famously used 64K of RAM at a time. But in 1985, Commodore introduced a cartridge that added up to 512K of RAM to the 128. Commodore followed up soon after with a 256K cartridge for the 64. How did Commodore RAM expansion units work?

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What is the purpose of a screen saver?

What is the purpose of a screen saver?

What is the purpose of a screen saver? Screen savers served both a technical and a marketing purpose. From a technical perspective, the purpose of a screen saver was to keep an image from permanently being engraved in a CRT-based monitor’s phosphors. But it wasn’t long before screen savers started serving a vanity or entertainment purpose.

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Commodore computer models

Commodore computer models

The Commodore 64 is by far the most famous and successful computer Commodore ever made. But there were numerous Commodore computer models over the years. Some were also successful. Some were complete flops. Overall Commodore had a good 18-year run, but it could have been so much longer and better.

Let’s take a walk through the Commodore computer models from the beginning in 1976 to the bitter end in 1994.

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