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The Rise and Fall of Commodore

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the those-were-the-days dept.


Andrew Leigh writes "On The Edge: The Spectacular Rise And Fall Of Commodore by Brian Bagnall is fodder for anyone interested in the buried history of the personal computer. Whether you owned a Commodore computer or want to hear a new angle on the early stages of computer development, you'll find this book easy to pick up and almost impossible to put down. Bagnall has gone to a massive amount of effort in telling this tale, researching and interviewing the real personalities involved. It takes readers on an important and often emotional ride that will many times leave you shaking your head at how painfully it all went wrong." Read the rest of Andrew's review

Before Commodore entered the home computer market, they were primarily a calculator manufacturer. The story begins in the mid 70's with the development of Chuck Peddle's famous 6502 chip, through to the release of the first personal computer, the Commodore PET. It then reveals how the VIC-20 became the first home computer to break the elusive one million barrier. Then comes the Commodore 64, and how the company made it the best selling computer of all time. The Commodore 128 is given plenty of coverage, along with the failed Commodore 16 and Plus/4 computers (which are probably better off forgotten). At this point, Commodore seems like it is losing its way, and the story cuts to the struggling company responsible for the original Amiga computer. You'll learn about the various Amiga models that followed, including the successful Amiga 500 and the pre-DVD CDTV and CD32 units. The hirings, firings, disagreements, discontent, resignations and celebrations that occurred during the company's run are given more than their fair share of coverage. It doesn't always show Commodore in the best light, which is what readers should demand from any history.

It's a sad truth, and the book describes this in an often bitter fashion, that the early history of computers seems to focus on Apple, IBM and Microsoft while Commodore's massive contributions to the industry are routinely ignored. The common misconception that Apple started the home computing industry is simply wrong. Commodore was the first to show a personal computer, the first to deliver low-cost computers to the masses, the first to sell a million computers, and the first to arrive with a true multimedia computer. Fortunately this book sets a lot of the record straight.

On The Edge delves deeply into the business strategies behind the company. Students of any business discipline will be well advised to heed the lessons about how not to run a company. One of the book's main characters and the founder of Commodore, Jack Tramiel, was an incredibly ruthless business man. Whether you love him or hate him, he was ultimately behind the incredible success of the VIC-20 and Commodore 64 computers. The book outlines how he managed to be the first to sell his home computers to the mass market through department stores, driving prices down and annihilating most of the competition. It also amusingly tells how he would regularly lose his temper and have what employees referred to as "Jack Attacks" when things went wrong. Many people referred to him as the scariest man alive and he probably was. Jack Tramiel unfortunately does not publicly talk about the Commodore days, so Bagnall was not able to personally interview him, however family members and those close to him give their personal accounts of events.

The book also explains how Irving Gould, the money-man and venture capitalist behind Commodore, constantly interfered when things were seemingly running smoothly. It is widely recognized that Irving Gould and Medhi Ali (the CEO he instated at the time) ultimately caused the sad demise of Commodore through 1993-94, yet the details of how it happened have always been sketchy until now. Thomas Rattigan, former CEO of Commodore, was interviewed by Bagnall and gives his personal thoughts and experiences during his time with the company. He also talks about his untimely dismissal by Gould. The later sections of the book describe how numerous marketing mishaps and poor business sense led to a dwindling stock price and an eventual filing for liquidation. Bagnall accurately describes the heartbreaking end to a great company that deserved much more success and recognition.

This book certainly does not shy away from getting its metaphorical hands dirty with the technical details and manufacturing processes involved in building the Commodore computers. If anything, more detail would be welcome here, as the personalities interviewed obviously drove their designs by an enormous amount of passion. Bagnall has interviewed all the original key players involved on the technical side, including the humble and personable Chuck Peddle. You'll read how he built the MOS 6502 microprocessor, with the talented layout artist Bill Mensch. The chip was used by not only Commodore but rivals Apple, Atari, and Nintendo. Many other notable and significant technical pioneers have also been interviewed and give their experiences and opinions.

You'll learn why your 1541 floppy disk drive was so unbearably slow. You'll learn how millions of dollars worth of Amigas were scrapped because of a cheeky message placed in the ROM by a disgruntled employee. You'll learn how exhausted coders had to take naps at their desks while code compiled on a mainframe. You'll also learn why those tedious "peek" and "poke" functions weren't built in as BASIC commands for easier usage on your C64.

Interestingly, Steve Wozinak, one of the co-founders of Apple Computers, claims in his new book (titled "iWoz") that he invented the personal computer and provided Chuck Peddle with the idea for the first Commodore PET. When you read On The Edge, you'll find that it tells a different story. Chuck Peddle receives a great deal of coverage, and after reading about his efforts you will feel this is deservedly so. His efforts have gone largely unsung and On The Edge may well be the first step towards him earning the title of being the father of the personal computer.

Commodore Business Machines was a company that produced superior computers for the mass market. Their legacy deserves to be told and more importantly heard. Computing history didn't just involve the big players that still exist today. Commodore, Atari, Radio Shack, and others all shaped the future. On The Edge is an experience that will change the way you view computing history and maybe even entice you to dust off that old Commodore computer that's been sitting in the cupboard. Bagnall tells it like it is and also leaves you thinking "what if?" many times. The great stories are filled with characters that anyone who works in the IT industry will recognize in their own workplace. It truly demonstrates the fragility and ad-hoc nature of not only Commodore itself, but the entire industry back then. It really makes you cringe in disbelief at how some stupid and insignificant decisions shaped the future as we know it now. No one could have known how important these decisions were back then.

At a hefty 557 pages, On The Edge is good value. Bagnall's informative and relaxed writing makes it a breeze to travel through decades at a blistering pace. It sheds some much needed light on a period of history clouded by revisionism.

You can purchase On The Edge: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore from Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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10$ Cheaper at Amazon (1, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858426)

It is 10 bucks cheaper at Amazon [] . (That's an associate link - if that bothers you - just go search it at amazon- 'on the edge' returned it as the top hit for me.)

Re:10$ Cheaper at Amazon (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858988)

I remember when /. used to always post Amazon links instead of B&N links and someone always chimed up with "It's cheaper at B&N!".

I'd like to hear a new angle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16858464)

Isn't "A New Angle" the title of the latest Strokes single?

The Rise of the Amiga has been postponed.. (1)

Channard (693317) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858474)

I never had a C64, but I have fond memories of the Amiga - although it eventually died a death in the face of the PC et al. I guess not many people wanted adventure games that came on fourteen floppies. Strangely, though, there have been multiple aborted attempts to revive the Amiga since then, with the name changing hands several times. Nothing's ever come of it though.

Re:The Rise of the Amiga has been postponed.. (4, Funny)

diersing (679767) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858728)

fourteen floppiesWell in my day we couldn't afford the fancy floppy drives, so we stored everything on cassette tapes (Quiet Riot ones if I recall) and we liked it!



Remember the calculators? (3, Interesting)

dmeranda (120061) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858844)

Ah, the nostalgia.

I had a Commodore calculator, the kind you plugged into the wall. It had a single-line orange flourescent display that had an annoying hum (the more digits that were lit the louder it was). It did though have a single register memory key, which was somewhat novel. Otherwise it was limited mostly to just +, -, /, and x.

I first played on PETs. I still remember the joy of discovering all the different variants of it that people had. Some had green screens, others amber, and I think I remember seeing one that had purple pixels. But the membrane-style keyboard was the most futuristic looking (and hardest to use).

Then I did all my "serious" programming on the C64 and wore out many 1541 disk drives. In fact my c64 still works, but unfortunately not the drive. Once you learned all those magic PEEK and POKE numbers you could play God, or so it seemed.

Then it was on to the Amiga 1000 and 2000. I had three floppy drives on the thing (thank goodness for the included schematics) before I could finally afford a newfangled hard drive. Eventually I upgraded it all the way to a Toaster Flyer system before the company folded up and I had to move on. Which was horrible, until Linux came along.

I remember seeing a C64 in the Smithsonian a few years back. That sure made me feel old.

Re:Remember the calculators? (2, Funny)

q-the-impaler (708563) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859776)

Ah, the good old days when a PEEK and a POKE didn't get you slapped.

If it weren't for the chattering 1541, I'd still have my C64. Mine was the "portable" SX-64 [] with the 5" screen. Weighed at least 100 lbs (45 kg).

Re:Remember the calculators? (2, Funny)

iocat (572367) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860070)

A POKE could get you slapped on the PET -- it had "killer pokes" that would totally brick the machine. They're discussed in the book. Which, by the way, is fantastic. I am an Apple fan since the early days, but I though the book was really really fascinating, even if the C64 did totally pale next to the Apple IIe.


Re:The Rise of the Amiga has been postponed.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16858862)

as someone why did have a C64, i can tell you the games where far superior to todays. Altho, i only had a few games, they where all simple little things you could play forever. I had a classic scrolling shooter (space fighter type game), a cowboy shootem-before-they-shoot-you game (very fun), and a WW2 (or was it WW1?) game, it was multiplayer with a map of the world and you moved your forces from country to country, attacking others, and, you could choose from a range of countries.

It was a sucky computer for work, mainly, you would only use it for games. Sadly, my mom decided it was a pile of trash, and trashed it (!!!!!!!), so its no longer with me.

Modern games are getting more and more crappy. The last great game i ever owned was starcraft, and the only reason it is great, is because you can create custom maps that pretend to be other games, like rpg's, or simple games like you might find on the C64 (modern versions tho) that can be played for hours. Also, because its tied into battlenet, you can play multiplayer easly, switching from game to game as you please, no need to get stuck only playing one thing over and over.

Ahh, how i wish i had that C64 with me.... i miss that WW1/2 game. (Attention OSS developers) make good simple games, or games that make it easy to customise to simple games (like starcraft (easy is a bit not there tho), then, Linux/BSD will be gaming machines. I dont think many people care for all the modern "ooo, nice graphics, and KILLING, I LOVE IT!" type games, they get boring after a while. While a simple RPG (with a few players, a lots of bots for enemies) will have them playing for ages, as long as they can load up new rpg scripts after they finish with one game.

Eh, im no doubt just being nastalgic, i mean, the C64 had crappy graphics when compared to today, slow, no harddrive, no mouse (joystick only, well, at least mine only had a joystick), no GUI (CLI only, and a crappy one at that, compared to bash or zsh of today), the CLI was BASIC based (you could type programs into it, im not sure if was a bad thing or not, but it sure made loading programs hard (anyone complaining of using a CLI today would kill themselfs at the sight of having to use a C64, really))... But still, the games... so simple, so easy, so fun...

Re:The Rise of the Amiga has been postponed.. (2, Informative)

funfail (970288) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859904)

no harddrive, no mouse , no GUI
Not quite true. C64 had hard drive, mouse and GUI (Geos). You only had to pay extra to buy them (but again, you had to purchase the floppy drive separately, too).

Re:The Rise of the Amiga has been postponed.. (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859366)

I had a Slackware CD Rom in the days before bootable CD Roms.

I had to copy it on to 22 floppies before I could install it.

Happy times

Amiga (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858488)

Amiga 500.

We will always miss you.

Why not buy from the author? (2, Insightful)

LoadWB (592248) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858498)

I absolutely LOVE this book. Why not buy it from the author?

Re:Why not buy from the author? (3, Interesting)

Jurrasic (940901) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858644)

I intend to. It's always made me bitter how little Commodore's song is sung these days. In an ideal world we'd all be typing these messages on Slashdot on AmigaOS based PCs rather then Windows-based or 'i'd rather die then use Windows so I use Linux'-based PCs. :(

Re:Why not buy from the author? (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858920)

In an ideal world we'd all be typing these messages on Slashdot on AmigaOS based PCs rather then Windows-based or 'i'd rather die then use Windows so I use Linux'-based PCs. :(

I had a Vic20, and later a C-64, and I am personally thrilled to be typing this on a Mac.

Re:Why not buy from the author? (1)

DG (989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859412)

Marc Barrett? Is that you?


(old time comp.sys.amiga guys will get the joke)

Re:Why not buy from the author? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16859928)

Jokes are not funny if you have to explain them. :)
And sometimes people don't get them, even if you do explain it.

I miss Commodore. (1)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858534)

The Vic-20 is where it all started for me. I moved on to a 64 and then a 128 when they became available. Today I have a working example of every machine they publically released stored in a closet along with drives, printers, and monitors.

Re:I miss Commodore. (2, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858572)

How about the PET 2001? The first one, without the on-board tape drive?

I've still got one... sold the other for $15k in 1999.

Wait! Wait! I know this one! (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858558)

Rise: Chuck Peddle
Fall: Jack Tramiel

Re:Wait! Wait! I know this one! (4, Informative)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859856)

Well, Peddle was only there for a short time. Jack Tramiel built Commodore up in the beginning, being Commdore's founder and everything.

He did do something in the early eighties which nearly killed Commodore. Tramiel went to war with TI in the so-called video game wars, furious that TI had undermined its calculator business in the eighties. The Commodore 64, which was selling well at $600 (supposedly close to 10x what it actually cost to build, even then) was repeatedly subjected to price cuts and a massive marketing campaign, which ultimately came close to destroying Commodore's cash flow.

At the end of the period, Irving Gould, Commodore's effective owner, fired Tramiel, who left and then went to Atari, which he basically saved from oblivion.

Commodore went bankrupt for the first time shortly afterwards. It recovered. And then went bust again.

Commodore's main problem at the end were a bunch of technical managers with agendas, and some lousy decisions made as a result of it. A case in point, the AGA chipset.

The AGA chipset was supposed to debut in an enhanced A3000 (the 3000 was a very respected, if expensive, 32-bit Amiga system), called the A3000+. Shortly before the A3000+ was supposed to be finished and shown to Commodore's international affiliates, there was a change of management, and the project cancelled. Instead, AGA was to be put first into a lower cost machine, called (IIRC) the A2200. Low cost consumer machines were suddenly considered Commodore's future direction, and they also designed an "A300", a replacement for the Commodore 64 based on old Amiga (ECS) technology, and an "A600", an AGA and standards compliant replacement to the A500.

All of which made some kind of sense, I suppose, but there was no replacement for the A3000.

After that, Commodore's managers decided to rename and reprice everything before announcing these wonderful machines to the public. The A2200 became the A4000. The replacement to the A3000. (This would be like Ford replacing the Lincoln Town Car with a design based upon the Escort.) It, and the A600, were delayed.

Meanwhile, the A300 was renamed (at the last moment) to the A600, and sold at the same price as the Amiga 500, which was abruptly dropped. The A600, as released, had some of the keyboard missing (so it couldn't play some Amiga games), and was no more powerful anywhere else. The machine did have a PCMCIA slot and a laptop hard drive interface, but these didn't really pacify anyone.

A few months afterwards, the AGA machines were released. Despite AGA, the A4000 was considerably less desirable than its "predecessor", and far more expensive than the A2000 it was supposed to replace. The A1200 was a good replacement for the A500, but was sold at a much higher price.

So in 1993 or so, you have Commodore:

  1. Seriously short of money, partially thanks to "Business is War" champion Tramiel.
  2. Seriously short of money, mainly (at this point) thanks to an ill-fated entry into the PC market (dumb managers)
  3. Releasing two lemons and a bitter orange as replacements for long-in-the-tooth but popular machines, and having no money to back it up (dumb managers)

If they hadn't had cashflow problems, it's tempting to speculate that all four machines would have been launched, and done so as replacements for the machines they were supposed to replace. As it was, they needed the money. That said, the A3000+ appears to have been killed by a manager of the type who wants to make an impression, rather than out of any technical or marketing awareness.

Tramiel can't really be blamed for all of this. He made one error, and he'd probably argue it wasn't an error to begin with, by the end of the "war" Commodore pretty much owned the home computer market, or was one of a top two (depending on country: ie Sinclair and Commodore in the UK owned the home computer market.) Irving Gould, who appointed a series of replacements for Tramiel and kept firing them until Medhi Ali, who was reponsible for the period where most of Commmodore's death was sealed. The PC fiasco. The numerous incompetent PHB-style heads of engineering. The mismanagement of the AGA transition.

Ahhh, those were the days... (1)

j0e_average (611151) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858614)

Commodore 64 + external floppy drive + 300 baud modem = endless fun dialing into local BBSs until all hours of the night.

Re:Ahhh, those were the days... (1)

From A Far Away Land (930780) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858856)

"Commodore 64 + external floppy drive + 300 baud modem = endless fun dialing into local BBSs until all hours of the night."

Modern version not that different:
"AMD 64 + external USB drive + 384 kbps modem = endless fun surfing into until all hours of the night.

This is my retro side talking... (1)

Myself (57572) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859858)

Have you noticed a distinct lack of USB 5.25" drives? I'm fine with a wall wart for power, but nobody even makes a USB floppy controller chip that recognizes 360k as a valid format. (There's one [] that'll do 1.2MB, but not 360k.)

I've been encouraging Jens Schoenfeld [] to make a USB Catweasel controller [] for those of us without PCI slots. I suppose it's probably easier to put PCI slots on a laptop [] , though.

Perhaps I'm just in it for the absurdity factor.

Re:Ahhh, those were the days... (2, Interesting)

DaveM753 (844913) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859024)

At the risk of being modded a Troll, I used to be able to pick up my telephone handset, whistle into the mic and convince my 1660 modem that I was a carrier signal. Never lasted more than about 5 seconds though: frail humans need oxygen.

Yeah, I miss those Commodore 64 days, too. I once sat up until 5am trying to block-send an entire disk to a buddy of mine at 300 baud. The very last block failed. Freakin' DRM was alive back then, too.

Re:Ahhh, those were the days... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16859626)

That reminds me of when my brother would tie up the phone line for house using the C64 300 baud modem. After a while, I'd just pick up another phone line in the house and start a whistling sound and various other modem like noises until he'd end up interrupted. Then I'd get to make whatever phone call I was trying to make and he'd start the process again.

I also reminisce to the various hacking tools on the C64. One of my favorites was a cartridge based tool that would snapshot the system memory and rewrite the software loader, bypassing any copy protection used in the loader. Unfortunately the output wasn't always very fast to load but fortunately the FastLoad cartridge helped overcome that.

Long live sprites, peak/poke, and the cassette storage.


Re:Ahhh, those were the days... (2, Interesting)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859044)

I bought the Commodore 2400 (or was it 1200?) baud modem in 1989 for my Commodore 128. Wow, that was such an improvement over 300 baud! BBS text flowed line at a time on my screen, instead of character at a time.

All that hardware - computers, monitors, lots and lots of probably-broken floppy drives - is in the closet of our computer room.

Hidden ROM message? (4, Interesting)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858628)

I went from the TRS-80 to MSDOS, so I missed the Amiga wave. But this part of the review intrigued me:

You'll learn how millions of dollars worth of Amigas were scrapped because of a cheeky message placed in the ROM by a disgruntled employee.

Some Googling brought me back to Slashdot, and a previous story involving the Amiga [] :

The 500, while still a cool box, wasn't a great technological leap forward. It was merely a mass-marketing-wrapped version of the 1000. (And Commodore poorly mass-marketed it!) As the easter egg [] hidden inside one of the later versions of Workbench said: "We made Amiga, they [Commodore] f*cked it up".

Re:Hidden ROM message? (2)

flnca (1022891) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859350)

Actually, it's "We made Amiga, Commodore f***ed it up!". Also included were the OS credits.

It was in AmigaOS 1.2, if I remember correctly, and was generated by triggering one of every input event there was. Hold down all Ctrl-Alt-Amiga keys, press F10, and eject a disk at the same time! (or something, I remember because it was hard to do and either involved a second person or ejecting the disk with your nose!)

The message was in one line, though! (not two as the guy in the article said)

I've seen it myself back in the days, on my Amiga 1000! :-)
(I had one from 1996! And still have one!)

Back then there was the rumor that the whole development crew had been fired because of the message! Incentive for me to read the book, to get the real story!

R.J. Mical was apparently the only one from the original crew who still worked for Commodore, at least until AmigaOS 1.3 was finished.

I wasn't too pleased with AmigaOS 2.x and 3.x, because they introduced some ghastly design errors, which wouldn't have happened, had the original crew still been around.

For example, the graphics library could've been made retargetable by introducing an underlying device and/or resource system (like there was in AmigaOS for any other hardware component). The Bitmap structure could've been extended in an upward compatible manner, Tripos should've been kept as the dos library, the mutual exclusive gadgets support should've been increased instead of removed (radio buttons!), the same with the library autoload feature in the executable file format, etc. etc.

The Amiga 3000 UX was canned too early IMO, we in Europe learned about that it existed only after it was canned. I would've loved to run UNIX on my A-3000.

Oh, and the graphics system supported only raster graphics, and not vector graphics. It would've made visuals and printing much less memory intensive had they introduced such a feature in time before releasing the A-500 and 2000 computers.

I still think that the underlying OS kernel was ace, tho. We can thank Carl Sassenrath for that, who has invented REBOL years later.

Re:Hidden ROM message? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16859576)

The ROM Message triggered by pressing 4 keys was:

"Amiga - A Great Computer"

When you ejected the disk, the message read:

"Until Commodore Fucked it up."

The A500 thru 3000 had the same message, but the second line, visible after pressing eject, was changed to

"Still A great Computer"

The really cool thing is that this message still works in UAE -- the Universal Amiga Emulator -- Just depends on what ROMs you choose to run.

Re:Hidden ROM message? (1)

flnca (1022891) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859832)

Ah yes, you're right!! Now I remember! :o) Never tried it with UAE!! LOL! I have AmigaForever lying around a Windoze drive somewhere. Currently, I'm using Linux, however. Shame there's no AmigaForever for Linux. As soon as I get UAE set up again on my box, I'll give it a go! :-)

It's a good read (3, Interesting)

opusman (33143) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858670)

I'm ploughing through it in my spare time (up to 75% so far) and am enjoying it. Its style is quite casual - it's a bit of a rambling tale, all over the place. It also could have done with a bit of copy-editing (grammar, spelling, etc) but other than that, a fascinating insight on the birth of the home computer industry.

Re:It's a good read (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859600)

I noticed the grammar and spelling, too. Aside from that, I enjoyed it a lot. I was an Atari 800 guy back in The Day, but most of my friends used Commodores. I distinctly remember seeing one of my C-64-using friends walking along the side of the road as I drove by one day, and rolling down the window and yelling "Commodore sucks!!". Good times... :-) The Apple ][ was my group of friends' comon ground, because we all used them in high school.

This book was really interesting to read, because I knew so little about Commodore. I really feel bad for the engineers who saw so much innovative work wasted or mismanaged by the company. Even though they were the Enemy back then, it was still almost heartbreaking to read about. Sad that everyone was crushed by the crappy IBM PC (except Apple, and I didn't like their machines too much until OS X came out (and now I use them almost exclusively)).

I was highly impressed by the Amiga when it came out, swallowed my pride and bought a 500, which I loved. I didn't know anything at the time about Amiga having been an independent company at first. I did know that Jay Miner was involved with the design of both my Atari and my Amiga, though.

The failure of the Amiga comes down to one thing. (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858686)

If Commodore owned KFC they would have marketed it as "a greasy warm dead bird in a cardboard bucket".

At the time take a look at the Amiga vs the IBM PC AT and the Mac as far a cost vs features.
The Amiga was so far ahead it makes your head hurt.
That is the proof that marketing is the most important thing in computers. If having the best product wins then the PC would have died the death that DOS deserved back then.

Re:The failure of the Amiga comes down to one thin (1)

diersing (679767) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858782)

a greasy warm dead bird in a cardboard bucket

Yeah, I'll also need a side of mashed potatos, slaw and 4 biscuits please.

Re:The failure of the Amiga comes down to one thin (1)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858916)

Foo: a greasy warm dead bird in a cardboard bucket
Bar: Yeah, I'll also need a side of mashed potatos, slaw and 4 biscuits please.

And an oversized wax-lined cardboard conic section of water, carbon dioxide, artificial flavor, and high-fructose corn syrup, please.

To go.

B/W Composite on the 500??!! (1)

Chordonblue (585047) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859082)

But the marketing went beyond stupid tv or press ads. At a time when the Amiga really stood a chance to cash in on the presentations/art biz, C= releases the 500 with a BLACK AND WHITE composite port! Why? They saved about 25 cents on additional components.

Then the color adaptor came out, and it's like 6 friggin inches long (oh, and the monitor pass thru was also on the end of this), making your machine stick out even further from the wall. What in the hell were they thinking?!

I do not blame the engineers - I've met some of them - and I can tell you that they were as pissed off as I was!

Re:B/W Composite on the 500??!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16859352)

Does this explain why the Amiga flopped in america?
In Europe we all used RGB connections...

Re:B/W Composite on the 500??!! (1)

jonabbey (2498) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859676)

I don't know what system the grand parent post was talking about, but it certainly wasn't any Amiga system. Every Amiga from the 1000 onwards had a RCA composite out (which could do color just fine, in the same way that NTSC can be broadcast over the air and be displayed by both color and black and white sets) and an RGB port.

The RGB port did require a special cable (this was pre-VGA, remember), but if you bought a monitor from Commodore the cable always came with.

Re:The failure of the Amiga comes down to one thin (2, Informative)

cmpalmer (234347) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859386)

As you say, when the Amiga came out (I had one of the first Amiga 1000s) it was far and away the most impressive personal computer on the market - processing power, graphics, sound, multi-tasking OS, etc. Five years later (or maybe less) Apple and the PC market had caught up and passed it and the Amigas that were being sold were only marginally better (woo-hoo, now it has a hard drive and more memory). Putting everything into the custom chipsets was a fantastic way of squeezing out that performance when it premiered, but it locked the hardware (and the tightly coupled software) into a time warp outside of Moore's Law.

I do have many fond memories on my C-64 (and my Amiga). I've still got a mostly working SX-64 in my closet, but I'm not sure the disk drive is in good shape - the last time I tried, I couldn't read most of the floppies I have.

I did learn to program in BASIC and 6502 assembly language on my C-64 and we wore out many joysticks playing Summer Games and M.U.L.E. on it.

My personal personal computer experience went like this:

TRS-80 Model 1, 4K RAM, Level 1 Basic (eventually upgraded to 16K RAM, Level 2 Basic, but I never had a disk drive for it)
C-64 (I skipped the Vic-20) with several 1541 disk drives
SX-64 (bought used from a friend who bought a C-128)
Amiga 1000
(started using Macs at my college job and a few PCs in school, but most schoolwork was done on a Vax and an IBM mainframe)
Packard Bell 486 (my first PC)
I've lost track of how many different PCs I've owned since then.

Re:The failure of the Amiga comes down to one thin (1)

jonabbey (2498) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859594)

My list..

  • TRS-80 Model I, 16K RAM, Level 2 Basic
  • IBM PCjr (relatively quickly sold off, for..)
  • Commodore Amiga 1000, bought November 1985, bright and early

8 years pass..

  • Dell Pentium 60mhz box
  • Hand-built white box
  • Hand-built white box the second
  • Hand-built white box the third
  • etc..

Oddly, I still have the TRS-80 Model 1 and its Monitor in custom-built cases in the garage. All the others are long since gone, though.

Re:The failure of the Amiga comes down to one thin (2, Insightful)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859550)

That is the proof that marketing is the most important thing in computers. If having the best product wins then the PC would have died the death that DOS deserved back then.

Where was the marketing for the IBM PC, then?

I hazily remember a TV commercial touting the PCjr, and the "How ya gonna do it? / Gonna PS/2 it!" jingle is still a brainworm fifteen years later -- but both of those models were failures.

IBM PC's didn't sell well because of good marketing; they sold well despite a lack of marketing, because they were IBM's.

Re:The failure of the Amiga comes down to one thin (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860034)

The TV ads are such a small amount of marketing that it really isn't funny.
That only counted for the home user. The Amiga was actually very successful in the home market. I would guess that a lot more people had Amigas at home than Macs or and maybe PCs.
PCs sucked for games.
It was in the bussness/corprate and education world that Commodore got killed.

Re:The failure of the Amiga comes down to one thin (1)

nostriluu (138310) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859830)

I think it was really that Commodore couldn't decide if the Amiga was a home computer for games/education, a business computer, or a professional multimedia computer. Of course, it could be all three, though least of all the business computer since it didn't do text very well.

You really can't market the Amiga 500, with a picture on the box of a kid in open mouth glee playing games, along with the Amiga 2000, with business/multimedia production, at the same time successfully. But it was when Commodore got distracted by PC clones - I remember their very unremarkable offerings - that things really went downhill.

Of the Amiga (3, Interesting)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858694)

Anyone who's interested in Commodore and/or the Amiga should also sheck out this Journal Entry [] by squiggleslash. Its a good read and very informative.

*sniff* I miss Amigas.

Multiple Amiga owner AND Stock Holder (1)

Amigan (25469) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859564)

Being the owner of an original A1000, and then an A3000 (still functioning - dual booting AmigaOS 3.9 and Debian Sarge) - I was impressed with the technology. You can see what I have at: ml []

I thought so much of it, that I bought enough shares to paper a good sized room - and lost it all :-(

I bought the book to understand what kind of cluster f**k management was. I would make the book required reading for any graduate level business management (MBA type) course so that they understand that bad management + good products still equals failure.


Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16858724)

= 1400 NetBSD bad for *BSD. As Ones in software Tangle of fatal we need to address is EFNet, and you hand...don't resulted in the disturbing. If you here, but what is believe their have left in From a te3hnical Trying to dissect I'm sick of it. It there. Bring taken over by BSDI his clash with Has significantly

Re:YOU FAIL IT (2, Funny)

heroofhyr (777687) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858818)

ok...That was either the worst poem or the best rap song I've ever read.


WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859500)

It looks like a Markov chain to me.

Save $10.18 by buying the book at! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16858780)

Barnes and Noble is selling this book for $29.95, but is only selling it for $19.77!
Save yourself $10.18 by buying the book here: The Rise and Fall of Commodore [] . That's a total savings of 33.99%!

Commodore also destroyed the Environment (4, Informative)

Danathar (267989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858792)

And to top it off....

Commodore's former chip fab facility is on the EPA's superfund site for extreme damage to the environment. 74/index.htm []

I hope Medi Ali and Gould burn in hell for what they did. They ruined a perfectly good computer/OS AND dumped toxic waste!

Re:Commodore also destroyed the Environment (1)

taijirad (584518) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860078)

So if they had just done one or the other, that would have been okay? Sorry, sorry. I'll get me coat.

Not many contributions. (-1, Flamebait)

litewoheat (179018) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858808)

IMHO the only thing Commodore gave to the industry was a bunch of kids who's parents could only afford a Commodore Vic or 64 and could progam assembly and squeze perfromance from a wickedly slow disk drive. There's nothing innovative about their hardware or software.

Re:Not many contributions. (2, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858948)

Uhh, the Amiga? Why is that not innovative? It took years for other platforms to be capable of similar things, for anywhere near the low cost.

Re:Not many contributions. (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858976)

Empirically, the C=64 did much better at games than its rivals, the Apple II and the Atari 8bits (Hmm, I think it was a newer if not better designed machine.)

Its SID sound chip was certainly well-regarded, and its Sprite capabilities were nifty.

Unfortunately it had a terribley barebones BASIC.

So it wasn't a revolution for home machines, but an evolution.

Re:Not many contributions. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16859158)

That barebones, pathetic BASIC made every C64 guy an ASM person moving to C later. Look at background of very advanced coders of this time, you will figure it too.

Re:Not many contributions. (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859900)

Anonymous Coward wrote:
That barebones, pathetic BASIC made every C64 guy an ASM person moving to C later. Look at background of very advanced coders of this time, you will figure it too.

I admit an ASM book on the C=64 I tried kicked my ass back then.

I know a lot of the 2600 homebrewers of today cut their teeth on the old Atari 8bit ASM.

And it seems like a lot of people who got really smart about computers at low levels had Apple, which seems to have been very friendly in that direction.

Re:Not many contributions. (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859660)

The Atari 800 and C=64 were so close to each other in capability, it would be hard to call one significantly better than the other. The C=64 was much cheaper, certainly. And both were far better than the Apple ][ for games.

Re:Not many contributions. (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859866)

In number of games available for piracy C=64 certainly took the cake :-)

I started with the 800XL but eventually longed for and got a C=64 for pretty much that reason.

I'm not sure if the C=64 *was* better, BUT...
* you saw it pushed more... I don't think the Ataris could have done "Skate or Die", say...
* on some EA games (back wheen they used that clever ECA logo and even more clever copy protection) ported between the two, IMO the 8bit games feel a little slower and more plodding.

Apple II seems to have been the best for hacking, Atari 8bits for light programming, and C=64 for games....

Re:Not many contributions. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16859006)

The sound chip used in Commodore 64 was spectacular for its time. In fact it is on Byte Magazine's list of most important microchips of all time.

Re:Not many contributions. (1)

why-is-it (318134) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859196)

IMHO the only thing Commodore gave to the industry was a bunch of kids who's parents could only afford a Commodore Vic or 64 and could progam assembly and squeze perfromance from a wickedly slow disk drive. There's nothing innovative about their hardware or software.


Based on that line of reasoning, Henry Ford didn't contribute much to the auto industry either because he just made cars that the average person could afford, even though they were slow and rickety.

I don't know about you, but I grew up in that era, and there wasn't much else to choose from at the time. Making computers affordable and available to a wide variety of people was an amazing accomplishment for Commodore. The personal computer industry owes them a debt of gratitude.

What would you consider innovative anyhow?

Re:Not many contributions. (1)

nogginthenog (582552) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859464)

Don't worry he's probably an Atari fanboy :-)

Re:Not many contributions. (2, Informative)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859272)

Jealous much? The fact that to this day it is still impossible for a PC, Mac or otherwise to display two screens with different resolutions *on the same display* is only the beginning of why your ignorance and snobbishness shows. Pre-emptive mutitasking, the Video Toaster/Flyer, Lightwave, and the genlocking abilities are other prime examples of why most of us are glad your opinion is just that. Heaven forbid we mention how it could boot a full multitasking OS with GUI in under 880k. Nah, not innovative at all...freakin' REVOLUTIONARY is more like it.

Re:Not many contributions. (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859430)

The Commodore 64 had better graphics than the Apple II and it could be argued better than the Atari of that time.
The Commodore 64 had better sound than the any computer of that time.

The Amiga first mass market computer
1. with multi-tasking.
2. with stereo sound.
3. that supported sampled sound.
4. hardware accelerated video you could argue that the Atari 400/800 was first thanks to it's missile player graphics but Jay Miner was involved in the both.
5. The ability to sync the computers video with an external video source

Just about every innovation in personal computers was first seen on the Mac or the Amiga.

The PC didn't catch up the to the 1985 Commodore Amiga until around 1995 with the release of Windows 95.

A good value? (4, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858826)

At a hefty 557 pages, On The Edge is good value.
Hogwash. I get the Gideon's Bible for free every time I travel, and that thing's got like a thousand pages -- now there's a bargain!

Re:A good value? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16858918)

But the bible isn't based on a true story like this book.

Re:A good value? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16860062)

But the bible isn't based on a true story like this book. Have you told your parents that you're gay yet?

Re:A good value? (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859996)

But does the ending ever change?

I find swiping in-room hotel coffee packets to be far more satisfying.

Great story of executive excess (4, Interesting)

bort13 (96346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858860)

I had a family member who worked at Commodore during the twilight years. The story I remember most was CEO Medhi Ali's weekly routine. He'd spend two days a week in Canada, two in the USA and three days in the West Indies to avoid paying taxes on his exorbitant salary in any of the countries. This is in the days before widespread cell phone usage and I remember having to manually route mail (SMTP addresses with a series of %) to my family member.

Great book, free shipping (1)

dr_skipper (581180) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858886)

I've really enjoyed it. It was well written and told a great and entertaining story.

You can download free chapters at []

They offered free shipping when I bought mine from the site.

Can Someone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16858954)

Can someone make this available in a Vorbcast?

Overall good book, but has a few issues (5, Informative)

jesup (8690) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858980)

At a recent get-together of a half-dozen or so ex-Commodore/Amiga engineers, we were discussing this book. The overall opinion, including of the one person who was interviewed for it, was that it was pretty good at covering the early Commodore days, the C64 and Tramiel issues, but the coverage of the post-Tramiel Amiga days (especially the later parts) was a bit spottier and had some factual problems. The author's main contacts are with the C64 and Atari ST/Tramiel crowd, so this isn't surprising.

I personally don't remember any large number of Amigas scrapped for the "they f***ed it up" message; in fact I'd seriously doubt that. And there were easter eggs in every version of the OS, usually far more extensive than that one.

Also, there were no "mainframes" at Commodore; the biggest iron was a Vax 11/780(if I remember right). And none of the software builds were done on that; all the Amiga SW was built on Sun-2's (early on) or on Amigas directly. By 1989ish, only a few libraries were still built on Suns - I think Workbench.lib was the last holdout, or close to. For AmigaOS 2.0, I ported AmigaDOS and all the remaining BCPL filesystems and commands to C and assembler built on Amigas. The "darkest before the dawn" story is likewise close, but not quite correct. (It is legendary, though.) However, while we weren't waiting for compiles, there were interludes in the 2.0-2.04 days when we did sleep in some offices and storage rooms on cots, and had a freezer full of frozen meals, plus lots of delivered pizza, italian, etc.

Admittedly, the employees were upset enough about the (mis)management by Mehdi Ali (much more so than Irving Gould) that at the "Deathbed Vigil" party when bankruptcy was declared, we burnt Mehdi Ali in effigy in my backyard.

The old offices are now QVC Studio Park; you can tour them. A few people at QVC know about this; when selling the C64-in-a-joystik a year or two ago, the host mentioned that the building used to house Commodore. It is truely absolutely huge....

Note: I haven't read the book yet, though others in the group discussing it had, and one was a major interviewee.


DG (989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859520)

Dude, how the hell are you?

Good to see some of the old stalwarts are still kicking around.

Heh, I found my copy of Deathbed Vigil just the other day.

BTW, I tried running BLAZEMONGER! in emulation a couple of weeks back, and it set fire to my computer and knocked up my cat. :D



lbbros (900904) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859984)

BLAZEMONGER! Memories of those threads in those newsgroup resurface...
And about your burnt computer, did you try contacting BLAZE's Customer Support to "discuss" the matter?

Thanks (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859596)

This is off topic but thanks for my house and my job.
I learned how to program on a Commodore 64 I got in November of 1982. I then learned how to do even driven programing on an Amiga 1000 I got in 1985. I love to program the Amiga. It was a good ten years ahead of the PCs of the day.
The Amiga taught me so much that I use everyday on PCs.

Re:Overall good book, but has a few issues (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859734)

I personally don't remember any large number of Amigas scrapped for the "they f***ed it up" message; in fact I'd seriously doubt that. And there were easter eggs in every version of the OS, usually far more extensive than that one.

My copy of the book is on loan to a friend, but I believe it said that it was ROMs which were scrapped, not actual Amiga machines.

Hey There! (1)

ewhac (5844) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860068)

Nice to see you! Hope you've been doing well.

I don't have a copy of the book; thanks for pointing out the rough spots.


I still have mine (2, Interesting)

Steveaux (1027754) | more than 7 years ago | (#16858986)

While I used other pc's the first one I ever personally owned was a C64. Later I sold it and bought an Amiga 500 which I used up until grad school. It sits in my closet and occasionally I will pull it out and play some of the games that were specific to the Amiga. Its still the only pc I own (no macs so I can't speak about them) that can access two seperate floppy drives and not grind every other system process to a halt.

Commmodore's Legacy is LINUX (5, Interesting)

Danathar (267989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859128)

Linus Torvalds first computer was a Vic-20. over/linus-9719.html []

He says the simplicity of the design of the Vic-20 enabled him to learn in a way that today is much more difficult. Read the last paragraph below.


IN 1981, LINUS WAS A toothy, pale-skinned kid with a blond cowlick living in a suburb of Helsinki, where the weather is cold year-round, save for a few 70-degree weeks in the summer. That year, 11-year-old Linus inherited a Commodore Vic-20 from his grandfather, a professor of statistics at the local university.

As the cathode ray tube's blue light cast a glow on his face, he sat in his bedroom, books lining the wall from floor to ceiling. Ivanhoe, Treasure Island, Robin Hood and all the Tarzan books. On a shelf: a plastic model of the Wasa, a Swedish ship that sank on its maiden voyage in 1628. The Wasa, painted in meticulous detail and outfitted with working sails and rigging, took months to finish.

When the first computer arrived, the other projects fell by the wayside. Long past his bedtime, small fingers tapped the dark brown keys of the Vic-20 keyboard. His first achievement on the Vic-20 was the simplest computer program possible: a two-line "GOTO" program in Basic. Once he tried to impress his little sister, Sara, by programming the Commodore to repeat "Sara is the best."

Next he tapped out his first full-fledged video game written in machine code, in which a submarine sails through a moving underwater tunnel, remaining stationary as the operator controls its vertical movement. The craft's captain must stay alive by dodging the "large nasty fish" in the tunnel. As the game progresses, the tunnel constricts. This amused Linus for hours in his bedroom. He stored the program on an audiocassette and took it to school to play with friends.

In hindsight, Linus believes starting on a very simple computer gave him an advantage that today's whiz kids don't have. "Modern PCs are much more complex," he explains. "No kid sitting in front of a Pentium could ever understand all its parts thoroughly."

Re:Commmodore's Legacy is LINUX (1)

flnca (1022891) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859684)

Yup, that's exactly what was in store for our generation of programmers. I also started programming on a VIC-20, when I was 12. I understood the concept immediately (because, before that, I had a small computer that was programmable in machine code to blink lights and make sounds), and began programming in BASIC within a couple of days. At first, I didn't even have a cassette drive, and I had to write my programs on paper and re-type them everytime. About a month later, I had a cassette drive and a memory expansion, and the real adventure began. I was writing mostly games in BASIC and assembly language (actually, machine code, I had to hand-assemble). When I got an Amiga in 1986, I learnt systems programming, hardware programming, C and M68K assembly language, and, most importantly, writing 32-bit, multithreaded GUI applications, because it was a necessity on AmigaOS. I still include AmigaOS in the "easy to program" category (albeit things were much harder than on the VIC-20, for instance). I wish anything like that was available nowadays. Perhaps, the only things remotely going in this direction are Java and perhaps .NET. But computers like the VIC-20 had one major advantage over any more complex system: You simply turned it on and were able to program it, right away. The "READY." prompt was always staring in your face, right after turning the damn thing on! ;-)

I hit L, SHIFT-O to the QUOTE and then DOLLAR (1)

JoshDM (741866) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859138)

If you know the dir of the nerdcore rhyme [] , then holler! (see PA Theme)

TI99/4A (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859150)

My uncle had a TI994A. It was the _only_ computer to have. He talked my dad into buying me one. At age 13 I used it to learn basic (type in them line number!). My uncle made fun of commodores. He called them "commodes." I didn't realize the fan following until years later and /.

I still have my TI99/4A. It doesn't work though. Heavy as heck....

Re:TI99/4A (1)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859408)

Did your uncle buy it before or after the 99/4A's were $50 and had zero support? I loved the TI's sound and some of its graphics capabilities but it was waay too slow and unusable for my tastes.

Re:TI99/4A (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859966)

Yea. We got it after the price fell out. Apparently, according to my uncle at the time, TIs were bombing because they were quality and too expensive. They punted and dumped 'em. We got it cheap. I did BBSes back then -- early 80s. You used a casette tape to write stuff. When we got a 5.25 floppy that was a huge thing. They keyboard actually had brains! I still look at keyboards as though they matter some times. Funny how they don't. You can use the expansion box to chock-up your car. Parsec ruled!

Jack Tramiel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16859274)

One of the most surprising stories is about what Holocaust survivor Jack Tramiel liked about the Germans. No, please don't give the answer in this thread, let all the others read the book too without spoiling it.

6502 also in (0, Troll)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859450)

The BBC Microcomputer

Instead of one of those C-64 children's toys.

Re:6502 also in (1)

flnca (1022891) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860004)

Damn you, Brits! ;-) It was never sold in Germany!! I wanted one so bad! Because it had an interpreter that allowed mixing of BASIC and assembly code! On the VIC-20, I only had a printout of the 6502 instruction set, and manually assembled DATA lines to POKE into memory! ;-)

Fond memories of my VIC-20 / 64 (1)

twofidyKidd (615722) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859462)

LOAD "*" ,8,1

Atari 130XE!!! (3, Funny)

enc0der (907267) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859478)

What makes me smile about todays computers is that the PC versus the MAC was very similar to the Commodore versus the Atari. I was an Atari user, both the 800XL and 130XE. I always felt that these machines were MUCH better than the equivalent Commodore machines of the time. Especially with sound voices and graphics capability. Of course, looking back now, wow...I will NEVER enter another program into my computer from a magazine into a hex editor. Nothing describes disappointment like spending 7 days entering in hex code for a game I will refer to as Tekken 0.000321, only to discover you can't move forward or backward, only kick or punch...kind of like rock, paper, boredom. So, for nostalgic purposes only... Commodore sucks! Atari for life! (And now I want to go find an emulator for either and play Bruce Lee)

Bruce Lee for Windows (1)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859842)

Someone created a Windows executable of Bruce Lee. (Actually, it might be available for multiple OSes.) I've played it and it runs well. You don't need an emulator. I don't remember where I downloaded it otherwise I'd post it. Just do a search. You'll find it.

I'm jealous... (1)

billybob_jcv (967047) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859536)

Wow, I'm jealous of all you guys that had floppy drives on your Commodores. I only had the cassette tape recorder!

I had a VIC-20, then a C-64 (and used various others: Sinclair, TI99/4A, TRS-80 Model III) before moving to the dark side (early PC Clone: EaglePC). I worked with a guy that bought the first version of the Amiga - we ran Fortran-77 on it.

Commodore Alive and Well (0)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859544)

I appreciate the concern, folks, but I'm doing fine. A little shaken, perhaps, but reports of my rise and fall have been greatly exaggerated.

Ah, the glory days ... and the new C64 t-shirt. (2, Informative)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859554)

I'l never forget that little beast. I remember saving up for months on my paper route until I was able to go into Service Merchandise, plunk down some $700 in cash, and walk out with a brand new Commodore 64, 1701 monitor, and 1541 hard drive. Hell, I still remember the days of the ol' VicModem running at a screaming 300 baud. When my friend got 1,200 baud, the speed difference was incredible.

I will definitely be getting this book. What wonderful nostalgia! "poke 53280,0" anyone?

One of the T-Shirts at ThinkGeek is of the exact setup that I mentioned above with the phrase "I Adore My 64". My shirt finally came in on Monday after being back-orderd for about a week.

I Adore My 64 [] (My apologies if someone already posted this, but I didn't see it.)

AMIGA FOREVER (4, Interesting)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859568)

To chime in with everyone else: AMIGA FOREVER.

I can't claim I'm posting this from my 1000 or 2000 since I'm at work, but they both still run. In 1987 I was, to my knowledge, the only person on campus with a full-color, stereo, multithreading PC, at a fraction of the cost of the monochrome Macs and the VAX mainframe. When someone else got one, we cabled them together and played full-color, networked jet fighter games and people's heads exploded watching them.

Wait! (1)

monkeyboythom (796957) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859670)

Did it run Linux! (okay, the voices in my head told me to type that.) True, I had the PET at school, I bought the Vic-20 and 64 with my own money, and finally had the 128 when others were getting the Amiga. I remember sending thermal printed papers to professors and have them bitch when they left them in sunlight. Don't forget...before there was even the idea of /. there was the magazine, Compute!

Re:Wait! --- No, but... (1)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859784)

No, but it did run CP/M, which was a cross-platform OS. Does that count?

6502 was neither the first or the best micro chip. (1)

vinn01 (178295) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859672)

All the pages of gushing over the 6502 is pointless.

The Intel 8080 was first home computer system microprocessor chip. The Motorola 6800 was next. And after that came the MOS Technology 6502, which was a variation of the 6800. Then Zilog introduced the Z80, which was the basis for a whole lotta CP/M systems.

All were very good micro chips and had a lot of systems based on their use. I wouldn't say that the 6502 was the best of the bunch.

VIC-20 and C-64 BBS's (1)

GeorgeS069 (956679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859790)

Ahhhh the good old days.
C64's and those awesome Western Digital modems that ran at 450baud!! when you connected to another WD modem.
and we thought that shit was Super fast!
I think about those days often now...running a BBS in the Philly area was lots of fun.
Anyone out there remember the NightOwl BBS group?
I ran NightOwl 13(I think I was #13
All you old Phreaks still have your copy of PhoneMan 8.0??

Great podcast interview with Bagnell (1)

twocents (310492) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859924)

The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 157 contains an entertaining interview with the author.
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