Saturday, 1 September 2012

Adding a C64 to the Collection

This year retro gamers across the globe are celebrating the 30th anniversary of two legendary computing platforms - the ZX Spectrum and the Commodore 64.

Both systems were massive sellers. At one point in its history the humble Spectrum held the record as the UK's best selling home computer, while the Commodore 64 went on to become the best selling worldwide.

Back in 1982 my father bought our family a 48k ZX Spectrum. The C64 wasn't available to purchase at the time, and even if it had been, the price tag would have pushed it far out of his financial reach. Combine that with the Spectrum being designed and built in the UK, and it's no surprise to me that he went for the rubber-keyed wonder.

During my school days almost all of my friends had Spectrums. I don't know if these friendships were forged on the basis of what computer you owned, or if it was just a fluke that we all owned the same system, but looking back only one person I knew owned a BBC, one an Oric (poor guy!), and one a C64.

Besides playing the odd game on my friend's C64, my experience of the machine is limited at best. I did attempt to rectify that about 10 years ago, and ended up with a 'breadbin' model and two data recorders. Unfortunately both recorders were extremely temperamental, and I think I spent more time trying to get these to work than actually using the computer. In the end I got rid of all the kit after hardly touching it.

Recently, however, I've spent a lot of time listening to the Commodore Rock album that was given away as a cover CD by Retro Gamer magazine many years ago.

I've discovered that the sound produced by the famous SID chip really is amazing when put in the right hands, and over the past month or so I've been visiting YouTube and a number of C64 web sites to stream further tunes.

This all came to a head when the latest issue of Retro Gamer magazine featured a massive section dedicated to 30 Years of The Commodore 64. Penned by regular contributor Andrew Fisher, this article detailed the history of the machine, spoke to some of the famous programmers of the platform, and also highlighted a stack of games to check out.

Once I'd ploughed through that article my mind was made up. I needed to add a C64 to the collection!

Following that decision I had questions. Which model should I go for? Should I go for a boxed setup or try and keep costs down by just going for an unboxed machine?

In the end I decided to let familiarity help me. Back in the day a friend of mine had a C64 Night Moves pack, and so it was off to Ebay to try and track one down.

Amazingly, I was the only bidder on a boxed C64 Night Moves pack, and got the machine for £40 plus a tenner delivery. I thought that was pretty reasonable. It also came with the data recorder, and a selection of extra games the previous owner had purchased.

The machine arrived a week or so back, and I've been spending the last few days trying out various classic games and demos.

Now I'm armed with my own C64 I'll be reporting on my experiences with the machine over the coming weeks and months.

Watch this space!

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