WAS THE C64 EVER FIXED?   3 comments


This was one of the C64 books I bought, about how to program text adventures, the only contemporary game that could be fairly easily programmed using the C64 built in BASIC. Of course, the graphic on the book cover is just an example of what the programmer or player may imagine, because there would be no graphics in your finished game and the Commodore 64 can’t display graphics of this resolution

In 1982 Commodore released the Commodore 64 onto an unsuspecting World. They showed off its colour, graphics, and sound, as well as its “64K” RAM, but they didn’t bother pointing out to potential buyers that they would probably or almost definitely be unable to use these facilities in their own programs.

I really don’t care about various software released by third parties or even by Commodore themselves which went part of the way to alleviate the situation. This software included “extended BASIC” packages, Commodore BASIC compilers, disk only languages such as Commodore LOGO or Logo, Sprite LOGO or Logo, Pascal with added graphics commands, graphics editors or paint programs, music composition software, or games making software.

The only real way the Commodore 64 could have been fixed is with a replacement ROM fitted by Commodore to the motherboard and this should have happened at the latest after it was shown at the CES, but before it went on sale.

Unfortunately, throughout the whole lifetime of the Commodore 64, Commodore never ever produced a replacement BASIC ROM suitable for fitting to the motherboard, so they never fixed it. Third parties may have fixed it up to a point, but I only care that Commodore brought out the Commodore 64 which wasn’t equipped with a decent BASIC language and as far as they knew, no one else would ever fix this problem for them. As for the Commodore 64 OS or “Kernal” ROM, I think this was updated, causing compatibility problems with some software, such as the CP/M cartridge and BASIC type in listings. I’m pretty sure I found this out the hard way, when I typed in a very very long listing from a book about producing graphics, then it failed to run, even after I debugged it very carefully.

In 1984, when I was unlucky enough to buy a Commodore 64, that computer had been on the market for 1-2 years, so any initial problems with a crap ROM containing a 5 year old BASIC should already have been sorted out. It wasn’t up to third parties to sort out these problems, it was up to Commodore themselves. All of this drove me to desperation and the verge of a nervous breakdown!

I only put the Commodore 64 onto my short list of computers because it had a 3 channel synthesizer chip, instead of just a tone generator. Little did I know, that not only was it virtually impossible to program this in BASIC, but that the sound was distorted through any TV. I longed for a custom 3 ended lead, or a dedicated internal speaker, like on the BBC Micro, which I really enjoyed listening to in various shops. I was also surprised at how clear the Atari 800XL sounded through a TV! Of course, the Commodore 64 sound output was crystal clear on the very expensive Commodore monitors.

The Super Expander 64 packaging

At the time I’m writing this, I’ve just found over 500 results for Commodore 64 computer on eBay, but only one result for the Super Expander 64 cartridge and one result for its accompanying manual. This cartridge gave the Commodore 64 the missing commands it needed, upgrading it to somewhere between Commodore BASIC 3.5 and Commodore BASIC 7. Of course, programs written using these cartridge based commands wouldn’t run on any other Commodore 64 without that cartridge plugged in.

The only type of game that Commodore 64 owners could program on the Commodore 64, using the built in BASIC, which looked similar to what could be done on other computers was an adventure game. Unfortunately, this would obviously have to be text only, because there was no easy way of incorporating graphics showing the locations, which could be done on non Commodore computers using BASIC. A popular software package for creating text adventure games on various computers was “The Quill”, which started on the Sinclair Spectrum and produced finished adventures in Machine Code. Users could add graphics with an extension called “The Illustrator”. I think these two programs were combined into one on the Commodore 64. Another package was “The Graphic Adventure Creator”, which started on the Amstrad CPC. These two packages made life easier for Spectrum and Amstrad CPC users, but were essential for Commodore 64 users.

I think that an easy fix, better late than never, that could have been applied to the Commodore 64 was quite simple. When the Commodore 128 was released in 1985 it should have been at the same or a very similar price to the Commodore 64, due to falling RAM prices, as well as the massive profits being made by Commodore. At the same time, the Commodore 64 should have been discontinued, then that would’ve been the end of this mess!

So, to sum up, I don’t think the Commodore 64 was ever fixed!

BTW, I’m still eagerly awaiting a program from TMR or any Commodore 64 fanatics written in Commodore BASIC V2 which draws a line across either the hires OR the lores graphics screen. No Machine Code or SYS commands allowed, just BASIC! I think that the lack of such a program after 13 months of this blog proves that the Commodore 64 is CRAP!

Posted September 6, 2013 by C64hater in Uncategorized

3 responses to “WAS THE C64 EVER FIXED?

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  1. Sounds like you hated the Commodore. Did you ever try programming in Assembly on it? That is how almost all commercial games got around the limitations you listed. The Commodore wasn’t perfect but for the price, it was an amazing bargain for it’s day. The Atari computers were technically a little better with their IO that is true but Commodores had a huge hacker following that extended into the BBS realm much better than Atari. On Commodores you could have color BBSs with their own graphic character set. This allowed for very creative BBSs at that time. Atari had crappy ATASCI monocolour which sucked…

    • I think you need to read some more of my posts on this site! To sum up, I was told that with computers in general people were supposed to learn how to do everything they could in BASIC, before learning how to do the same things in Assembler/Machine Code. Unfortunately, it was virtually impossible to do many things on the Commodore 64 using its built in Commodore BASIC v2, only text based programs. I read articles about programming in Assembler on the C64, but these articles didn’t tell me much and I never actually programmed in Assembler on the C64. The fact you could use muliticoloured text didn’t make much difference to me, especially as I used my C64 with a B&W mono TV set most of the time, as did lots of other people, including all C64 owners I met at my local computer club. I think that Atari 8 bit computers are totally superior to the C64. How would someone become a hacker on the C64? I look forward to you explaining how to create some BBS Software using Commodore BASIC V2, then how to convert this into Assembler! As for me, I never even owned a modem when I had a C64.

  2. 13 months of this blog, at the time of writing, and YOU couldn’t figure out how to do it? And now, in the latter part of 2016, nothing has changed. You still can’t program because you never put in any effort to learn. You’re too busy finding excuses and blaming everybody else for your failings.

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