The Commodore 64. It's the computer that got me started programming and was eventually more or less directly responsible for my study and career in information technology. Without it, I probably would have spend much less time staring at glowing screens in a dimly lit chamber and a lot more time outside enjoying the sun. The first computer I ever owned*, boasting a massive 64Kb of memory, 320x200 resolution, 16 colour graphics, Sprites, the Sound Interface Device chip and more load errors from that blastedly slow tape recorder than a young man wanting to play Arkanoid can really take.

In short, this machine is outright legendary. Well, that is until you run out of memory or try to make an 'arcade quality game' on it. In Basic. When you're twelve years old. Without a reference manual. Obviously, that became a roaring success.

Commodore 64 Hard & Software brochure page 10. (Source: Commodore Billboard)
Above: Page 10 from the Commodore 64 Hard & Software brochure (1982).

Ehmm... Not quite. I didn't get much further than a rather odd looking Breakout clone (read the Amiga pages and you'll note a pattern!), a ton of half-finished basic games and a few odds and ends in 6502 assembler.

My proudest achievement back then in 1990 was writing a functional run-length encoder in assembly. Built using the Final Cartridge III monitor, so if something went wrong I had to start all over - unless I remembered to save first. I used it to pack 'hires' 320x200 pictures down from 8Kb to a more manageable 2-4Kb. That and the split-screen routine I wrote to double the number of sprites from an already quite impressive 8 to a downright massive 16!

Sadly, all these wonders of software engineering were stored on... Audio tape. So, it's all gone now.

Still, no sense in sitting down feeling blue. Instead, it's time to start building new stuff in 6502 assembler. This time, powered by the wonders of the internet, cross development and the will to figure out just how all these games worked back then. Beats that 1530 datasette and the Final Cartridge III monitor for sure**.

With a bit of luck, I might even finish something this time round!

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*) I started out on my dad's ZX-81 and dabbled on his Sinclair QL, but the C64 is the first computer that was all mine.
**) This is, of course, more or less cheating. But if it gets me new C64 programs, I'm still in favor!