The Commodore 64 is rather unlike modern computers. It has a CPU and memory like a modern computer does, but the operating system and overall user experience is alien to someone used to computers that run Windows or Mac OS. So to modern eyes, it’s not completely obvious how to use a Commodore 64.
Commodore had a dominance of the market in the 1980s that would have made Apple jealous at any point in its history, but ultimately Commodore lost, so the Commodore 64’s bloodline is extinct.
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.
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.
One of the most popular add-ons for an Apple II added CP/M compatibility. So I guess it should be no surprise that Commodore tried the same thing. But the Commodore 64 CP/M operating system was a flop. Why?
Some 90s computer brands are the same as today, but a lot more companies played in the field than now. Profit margins were higher then, so industry consolidation wasn’t the matter of survival that it is now.
The IBM PS/1, sometimes called the IBM PS1, was a line of 1990s personal computer systems, not to be confused with the Sony Playstation video game console that’s also often called the PS1. The PS/1 was IBM’s second attempt at a mass market consumer PC.
You can neatly divide the PS/1 into two generations. While they ran the same software, they had major philosophical differences. Perhaps more than any other computer line, they represent IBM’s change of heart in the early 1990s as it tried to survive in an extremely competitive and crowded market.
What is a game cartridge? If you’re asking, you must not have grown up in the 1980s. But that’s OK. We’re happy to share our generation’s fun with you.
A game cartridge is a plastic case containing a circuit board, a connector, and a ROM chip. CDs and DVDs ultimately displaced them because they offered higher capacity at a lower cost. But in the 1970s and 1980s, the only lasers our game consoles had were the ones they drew on the screens in games about aliens. We liked our cartridges, even if we called them tapes sometimes.
Over the course of its 12 years on the market, Commodore released a number of Commodore 64 models. The computer’s capability changed very little over time, but the technology did. The world changed a lot between 1982 and 1994, and that gave Commodore some opportunities to lower costs, chase other market segments, or both.
Here’s an overview of the various Commodore 64 models that hit the market over the machine’s long life.
The Epyx Fast Load cartridge, released in 1984, was the first commercially successful Commodore fast load product. Commodore’s 1541 disk drive was much slower than competing disk drives, so fast load cartridges became popular.
While the Epyx product was first, and was very popular, it didn’t have the market to itself for very long.