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Picked up a Commodore 64

Ken Vaughn

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Jan 16, 2010
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Never owned one before -- found this on local Craigslist

Commodore 64 including all required cables, connections to TV, two power supplies
two 1541 disk drives
GeoRam Memory Expansion cartridge (512K)
Commodore mouse
Geos 2.0, DeskPack Plus, GeoCalc, GeoFile, GeoPublish, manual, disks and clipart disk
MPS 1200 Dot Matrix Printer, paper, ribbons
Game controllers (paddles)
Disk storage boxes and several blank disks
Commodore 64 User's Guide, Programmer's Reference Guide
Commodore 64 Games (BASIC language manual)

Game Cartridges & Software disks:
=========================
64 Pak, manual and disk
Alf
B-1 Nuclear Bomber
BattleDroids, original packaging & disk
Blockbuster
Bravo! Magic Music Series level 1
C64 educational program disks, Geography, Science
Castle Hassle, manual & cartridge
Cave of the Word Wizard (Timeworks), original packaging & disk
Choplifter!
Demon Stalkers, original packaging and disk
Easy Lesson/Easy Quiz, manual and disk
Easy Match/Easy Count, manual and disk
The Factory
Gothmog's Lair
Grover's Animal Adventures
Hacker
Hop Along Counting, manual and cartridge
Howard the Duck, manual and disk
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Jumpman Junior, original packaging, cartridge
Koala Painter
Mental Blocks
Missing Links, manual and disk
O'Riley's Mine
Paperboy
Road Runner
Skate Rock
Success With Math (2 disks, addition & subtraction and multiplication & division)
Star Trek The Promethean Prophecy, original packaging and disk
Super Smash, manual and cartridge
Temple of Apshai Trilogy
Top 20 Solid Gold, 5 disks
Turtle Graphics II, manual and disk
The Untouchables
Winter Games

Anything unusual or collectable here?
 

tezza

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Congrats.

These are fun machines Ken with a heap of support. They have their own idiosyncrasies tas far as operating systems are concerned and there is a bit of a learning curve. The disk drives are really SLOW compared to other 8-bit machines so go make a coffee while something is loading. When I first started using a C-64 I thought the drive was broken. Turned out I just hadn't waited long enough (-:

Tez
 

carlsson

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I am not sure about unusual. GEOS users might envy the 512K expansion (which IIRC has no support outside GEOS anyway), and of course a working 1351 mouse is always a sought for item. When it comes to the games, one would have to investigate them one by one. Major cartridge collector Mayhem says on his website (which might be outdated by a year or three) that Castle Hassle is "scarce", while the other carts relatively speaking are "common". I suppose some of the oldest titles like Cave of the Word Wizard, The Factory and Gothmog's Lair might be harder to find than some of the slightly newer titles, but then again too obscure titles usually are shelf warmers.
 

Dave Farquhar

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The GeoRAM isn't terribly common. Berkeley started making them when supplies of Commodore's own memory expansions ran low. But they had very little, if any support by anything but GEOS. Admittedly, the main software support I remember for the Commodore units was for nibblers and other disk copiers for fast single-drive copying.

Memory expansion made GEOS an awful lot nicer. I'd load my apps into my ramdisk for fast access. A Macintosh or (especially) Amiga was nicer, but they cost a whole lot more back then too. I first learned desktop publishing on a C-128 with GeoPublish. Ah, memories.

Commodore 8-bits admittedly have their quirks, but the decisions made sense at the time, especially when one considers nobody had ever sold a 64K computer for $595 or a disk drive for $299 before, and Commodore only expected it to be on the market until 1984 or 1985, not 1992.

At any rate, they were very, very fun machines, especially when tricked out.
 

mark66j

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That's a nice collection of C64 stuff, especially the software. Seems like I have seen the GeoRam go for a fair amount in the past. I've run GEOS without it and it can be pretty painful, since the disks are so slow. The disks can be speeded up with Jiffy Dos chips (in both the C64 and drive) and those are not too hard to find. (It is also possible your machine already has them, of course).

Did it come with a composite video cable? That will give much nicer results than the RF to a TV. Some monitors can also take a split feed of chroma and luminance, which gives a sharper picture. Seems like there's a mod where you use an S-Video connection as well, but I am hazy on the details of it.

It's a bit "dangerous" to have one of these around as there is so much software and accessories out there for them that you can easily blow out your budget!
 

Ken Vaughn

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Did it come with a composite video cable? That will give much nicer results than the RF to a TV.

No, just the RF connection. I don't plan on adding much in the way of software, but I may get hooked. Haven't looked at most of the software yet -- I have only had this system for 24 hours. Haven't even hooked up the printer yet -- but I was told that it works. Spent a few hours today looking at GEOS -- it looks pretty good when compared to early Windows, but I'm not sure when the GEOS software that I have was released.

I have a S100 system (IMSAI) with 64K which cost me around $1600 just to fill out memory in the late 70's -- four 16K boards at approximately $400 each. I am the original owner of this system.
 

Dave Farquhar

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GEOS 2.0 was released for the C-64 in 1988. It compared pretty well to other GUIs of its time. I think I first used GEOS in 1987 or so, and I used a Macintosh for the first time in about 1990. I didn't like the Mac at first, after a few years of using GEOS. But it could be that I liked what I knew and used first.

I'd have to check dates, but GEOS may have beaten Windows to market. I know GEOS 1.0 was released in 1985. And GEOS certainly had a lot more immediate success than Windows did, though in the long term of course, we all know who won.

The C-64's chroma/luma video is compatible with S-Video with the proper cable. It's just a matter of either making or acquiring a cable. Here's a page that has the pinouts: http://radagast.bglug.ca/C64_svideo/C64_Svideo.html
 

mark66j

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I think GEOS was a better designed GUI than Windows 3.1. But it was most popular on hardware which unfortunately was becoming outdated by the time it shipped. A graphical shell really needs a hard disk to work decently and hard drives for the C-64 and 128 were expensive then (actually, they still are when you can find them!)

I know there was a GEOS version for IBM, but not sure how many they sold. In those days Microsoft was far too nasty to let anyone compete with MS DOS/Windows, with their requirement that PC makers buy a license for every machine, regardless of what OS went out on it. That also killed off DR DOS, and hampered OS/2 (which really was also hurt as much by IBM's own lack of marketing and fear of upsetting Microsoft, and so forth).
 

Dave Farquhar

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Indeed. I remember when the CMD HD series came out, and people were shocked to be able to buy a 20 MB hard drive for $600. I think Xetec's 20 MB drives were more like $1,000. I never used GEOS with an HDD, but yes, it would have been a lot nicer. It wasn't too bad on a C-128 with a 1571, 1581, and 512K RAM expansion though. Especially after I copied the GEOS boot disk over to the 1581 (3.5" drive).

But by the time you started thinking about hard drives, CPU accelerators, fastloaders, and expanding beyond 512K to really make GEOS sing, you could just about buy an Amiga. Which was what I ended up doing. I think you were looking at $600 for a CMD hard drive, $300 or so for a 4 MHz accelerator, about $100 for JiffyDOS to make the drives run faster, and another hundred or two plus a lot of time to add memory beyond 512K (it was an unsupported hack job). Around the same time I was looking into that, Commodore was offering an Amiga 2000HD with a 52MB hard drive and some software for $1,300.

GEOS definitely extended the useful lifespan of the Commodore 8-bits, but I suspect once it got Commodore users hooked on GUIs, it made them look long and hard at Amigas and Atari STs.

GEOS for the PC had decent success early on, especially because it ran respectably on XT-class machines and there were still plenty of those out there in the 1990-91 timeframe. And it ran better on 286s than Windows 3.0 or 3.1 did. But it didn't really have a chance once 386s really got affordable, and of course, it wasn't long after that when PCs started getting bundled with Windows 3.1, and Berkeley couldn't compete with "free." (It really wasn't free, but it looked like it.) Plus, if you had Windows, then you could run the Windows versions of MS Word and Excel, and Berkeley's word processor and spreadsheet weren't as nice as those.
 

custm42435

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Hell im impressed of the cartridge stuff with the buy.. most of my games were floppy for my 1541 and i never had many cartridge stuff.. except for the 300 baud modem.. my first modem.. heh.. geos was definately my next recall i loved geos... then there was test drive... with the "ACCOLADE PRESENTS"... the the guy in the porsche with the window going down with the shades... had a tape drive but never got much use out of it... how much did u pay for the lot?
 

Ken Vaughn

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Hell im impressed of the cartridge stuff with the buy.. [snip] ... how much did u pay for the lot?

I gave $85 -- probably not a great bargain but I was impressed with all that came with it and was in the mood to try something new. The lady who sold it to me was asking more and probably felt she should have gotten more, but had not received any other offers.

I just ordered a cable to connect the C64 to a monitor using composite video. This should improve the video a great deal.
 
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custm42435

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definately a reasonable price to pay and looks like you got the good stuff with it.. definately hooking it up to an actual commodore monitor will give you the best video results. i remember keeping my commodore monitor for years after i had sold my 64 just because of how nice it looked as a tv monitor.
 

Raven

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I spent $130 for my setup, and that included the unit, one disk drive, four carts or so (only one of which was a fun game), and 10 disks or so (most of which were really crappy educational software), so I'd say you got a good deal.
 

Maverick1978

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You didn't do bad at all for $85 - the value of C64 stuff has gone up in recent years. I used to get mine at the local flea markets for less than $5 a unit, and I once paid $20 for an entire 6sq-foot box of C= cartridges and hardware (THAT was a steal).

If you decide that you like using the unit, I would definitely suggest that you invest in a Fast-Load cartridge. It will save a LOT of time in loading software. Also, JiffyDOS is still available as well (though I personally don't use it - I'm happy enough with my FastLoad)

As Carlsson said, the C= monitors are nice if you can get one cheaply enough. They have the added advantage of having standard RCA composite and audio inputs as well, so their use can extend well beyond just connecting to your C64, especially if you step up to the Commodore 1084S, which also adds an Amiga video port.
 

Dave Farquhar

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The more I think about it, the more I think $85 was a good deal for both sides. The 1351 mouse is tough to find, and any memory expansion is tough to find. I think $85 would have been fine for the 64, two 1541s, and those two peripherals. Let alone with the software.

That said, if the person Ken bought it from had held out for much more than that, it would have taken a long time. Depending on how she valued her time, she'd have spent more than that in time and effort trying to get more.

The nice thing about JiffyDOS is that it leaves the cartridge port free for memory expansion. Granted, how much you need the memory expansion really depends on how much you use GEOS, but it's something to keep in mind.

As for monitors, my favorite Commodore monitor of all time is the 1702. Those things never seem to break. My 1084 monitor spent a lot of time in the shop--enough that I eventually bought an NEC Multisync monitor just to get away from Commodore monitors. I still have a 1080 monitor. It proved a little more reliable than the 1084, but it doesn't work right now either. I know I wasn't alone, because late in its life, RUN Magazine did an article about the various Commodore monitors, and they warned that if you bought a used monitor, that most of the Commodore RGB monitors (1080, 1902, 1084, etc.) were prone to mysterious old-age diseases.

The 1702 was strictly a composite monitor so it wasn't as versatile, but I've seen a lot of 1702s over the years and I've never seen one that didn't still work.

And of course you can plug a 64 into any modern-ish TV that has composite inputs and it'll work pretty well. Would it be blasphemy to connect one to a 15" LCD HDTV? And would the HDTV distort the picture? A 64 with a flat-panel display would make for an interesting double take. I don't own any LCD TVs (not yet at least) so I can't say I've tried it. But I do have a nice little 13" RCA TV that I bought in 2001 or so that makes a nice display for vintage systems.
 

Ken Vaughn

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And of course you can plug a 64 into any modern-ish TV that has composite inputs and it'll work pretty well. Would it be blasphemy to connect one to a 15" LCD HDTV? And would the HDTV distort the picture? A 64 with a flat-panel display would make for an interesting double take. I don't own any LCD TVs (not yet at least) so I can't say I've tried it. But I do have a nice little 13" RCA TV that I bought in 2001 or so that makes a nice display for vintage systems.

I have a 4 in 1 TV/Monitor which I bought to use with the CGA card on my first IBM. It has a built in tuner, so it can be used as a color TV, or at least it could until the digital switch over. It accepts IBM compatible CGA input. It also accepts composite input, and has a green color only switch -- sort of a poor man's monochrome substitute. I had it connected to rabbit ears in my detached workshop until the digital switch over. I'm sitting at the base of Lookout Mountain (Golden, CO) where all the TV towers are, so the picture was good.

I also have a Sony Triniton 13" color TV with RCA jacks in addition to the 75 ohm input. One of those should work fine.

I have a couple of 19" (diagonal) HDTV's with several types of video input, but those are in use daily. Might be fun to see what the C64 output looks like using a 4x3 aspect ratio display setting.
 
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Captain Midnight

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Mar 3, 2010
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Actually for what you got, $85 is a pretty good deal. You would spend that much or more if you pieced it together from eBay.
 
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