The Commodore 64 computer - is it a timeless classic or an ancient relic?


There are some who would say that the Commodore 64 commonly known as the C64, should be consigned to the dustbin, never to see the light again.
There are however others who place the machine on a pedestal and worship it, hailing at as the greatest personal computer ever to have been produced. Technically, they could be right.
The Commodore 64 personal computer was first introduced in January of 1982 by Commodore International, making its unforgettable debut at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show. Mass production started in the spring and in August of 1982 the first units were being released into stores at a jaw-dropping low price of US$595. The Commodore 64 contained an impressive 64 kilobytes of RAM at a time when Apple computers only contained a maximum of 48 kilobytes. The C64 contained separate sound and graphics chips with an output far outweighing those of their rivals. In fact for such a cheap computer it was beating its rivals hands down in the technology stakes, including the Apple II, selling at an astronomical price of US$1200 - more than twice the price of the C64.
Over the course of its lifetime Commodore sold between 12.5 and 17 million C64 units, making it the highest selling personal computer of all time, even including today's computers. Between 1983 and 1986 the Commodore 64 dominated the world market, holding a 30-40% share, and selling approximately 2 million units per year. At one point they were producing around 400,000 units per month for a period of a couple of years.
The Commodore 64 computer had no operating system as such. Instead it incorporated a ROM based BASIC computer programming language. And, because the disk drive contained its own microprocessor none of the memory was required to operate it. There were alternative operating systems developed for the C64, including GEOS, WiNGS and LUnix. With the GEOS, WiNGS operating systems a mouse could be used.
The Commodore 64 computer was popular because of its price and the fact that it was sold in retail stores rather than electronics stores, making it more accessible to the mass. Price wars between manufacturers brought the price down even lower making them even more affordable. Somewhere in the region of 10,000 software titles were produced for the computer, including business and office packages and games for which the C64 was popular for.
It was designed to be connected to a television although a separate monitor could be bought if required. As a testament to its popularity collectors clubs have been set up around the world. This is a collectors item and some of the games consoles are fetching far higher prices now than they ever did when new. In March 2012 The Art of Video Games exhibit opened at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and features an entire kiosk devoted to the Commodore 64. The kiosk contains not only 4 C64 games along with video and audio clips but also a complete and original Commodore 64 computer. So, timeless classic or ancient relic? You decide.
Article by zap