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Monday, November 12, 2012

Wiki of the day, November 12,2012: Commodore 64

The article:  Commodore 64

INTERESTING FACT: The best-selling single personal computer model of all time.

I wanted to put this up here for people who weren't conscious of computers during the beginning of it all.  It is really interesting to me, being a programmer now- how unique of an experience I had with my Commodore 64 and how much I learned "playing" with it.

It was seriously no toy and had few frills by today's standard.  Many things you just had to figure out- games that you would find "online-" I should stop right there for a minute... yes I was online 10 years before the internet even began to sweep into homes.  Back then there were dial-in communities called bulletin board systems (BBS).  You would plug a modem into the back of the C-64 and it would use your phone line to dial into a server.  (Seriously if you wanted to get "online" there had to be enough lines open on the other end.)  My first modem I believe was 300 baud.  If you ever had a 14.4k modem in the time of what you think was "back in the day..." well that would be 48 times faster than what I started with.  And if your home has cable internet that would be between 30,000 - 70,000 times faster!

But that wasn't the only thing... it was truly a time when typing a paper at home on the computer was rather experimental.  Word-processors were an expensive luxury that only business had.  And they were complicated to use!  But still there was always so much to learn in that experience- I remember using BankStreet Writer (a word processor) and you had to mark everything with tags.  If you wanted something bold it would look something like   BOLD>this is bold<BOLD  but you wouldn't see the bold on the screen.  (If you use Microsoft Word there is an option to see similar "codes" there is almost never a need to see them) HTML, the markup that is behind the webpages you look at everyday is very similar to this.  Right click somewhere in the article and select "view source" a bunch of gook will come up.  Then search that for "this is bold" you will see a <b> and a </b> those are what makes it bold when you see it in your browser.

Have fun reading about the Commodore 64--- the best selling computer ever.


  1. Ah yes, the days of 8 inch floppies (with a whopping 128K), CP/M, and modems where you had to put the receiver into a cradle... did you ever have to play with the stacks of punchcards? Those were awful... one card out of place in a stack of 500 and your program screwed the pooch... then you not only had to find the one out of place but you had to be able to translate the punched holes on the fly to figure out what part of the program each card was.

    In some ways it is so much better today, but then again, people using the Arduino and PIC processors are harking back to those days of hardware hacking and programming plugging.

  2. No I have to admit that punchcards are before my time. (I should say my tone of "a time long ago" is really referring to home computing and not computing in general). What I will say about programming "now versus then" is that it is really frustrating to see people simply grab something like visual studio and build something that works and think they are programming. I am all for dabbling but I have seen this belief taken to an irresponsible level (and frustrating speaking as a professional). Books and teaching on the topic exacerbate this. One book I recently started working on in a Microsoft Exam book- and it refreshingly warns aspiring developers: (and validates my observation) "Visual Studio makes it easy to jump into web development. It's so easy, in fact, that many developers manage to create their first applications without understanding the fundamentals..." :-)

    1. Now if I would only take a minute to proof read my own "replies" more...