Happy 35th, Commodore 64!

Um, yes.

That book may be an interesting read when it comes out.

Well, it depends. Commodore REALLY failed not because of the usual “oh, it didn’t keep up with the hardware curve” arguments. It failed after because it was driven by relentless vulture capitalists from start to finish, starting with Tramiel and Gould, and ending up with the execrable Medhi Ali. Basically all heroes and influences for today’s crop of “I need a $100 million dollar salary to drive the company into the ground” CEOs.

Tramiel at least was semi-concerned about the product – hence the almighty C64 – but Gould and Ali, the money guys, were in it to extract cash. What this did to Amiga marketing and service was devastating, which in turn limited the Amiga’s run in the US into a historical blip. (Commodore UK, which was semi-independent from CUS – and hence Gould and Ali – did a man’s job keeping the Amiga alive for as long as it did in EMEA).

Commodore: On the Edge is pretty much required reading on this subject.

Is it fair to call Tramiel a ‘relentless vulture capitalist’ when he was also the founder of the company? Just askin’.

True enough on Tramiel. He’s a complicated guy. He was the engine that drove the “computers for the masses, not the classes,” but I would also argue that he was a relentless bottom-line kind of guy. Commodore computers were truly good, but they could have been remarkable had not that singular penny-pinching paradigm constrained the company (thinking of examples like the crippled serial bus on the 64 with the 1541). Tramiel just didn’t have the chops beyond his narrow focus to take Commodore into Apple (and not even) IBM territory, and, when he left, the vicious money guys took over … and Commodore was doomed at that point.

Even in the 16 bit era, though, they had a hell of a product. The Amiga had superior sound and graphics to the PC until about 1990, I think. Not that those are the only yardsticks, of course, and in citing them I show my own gamer bias.

I heard the problem was more of marketing or other corporate-y stuff rather than the quality of the hardware. But I’m far from knowledgeable about it.

I also wonder if the C64 and Amiga suffered somewhat from being pigeonholed as gaming devices rather than productivity enhancers. Particularly in an era when dedicated game consoles were making their own comeback (at least from 1986 onwards).

US marketing and development for the Amy was nil. Development was strictly “exploit what we have” and that 1984/1985 tech didn’t expand out in meaningful ways, other than the addition of more chip RAM and the semi-buffed ECS. And it stayed that way until the stop-gap AA chipset in the (even LESS marketed in the US, much less sold) A1200. And, sitting behind my Soundblaster/Tseng Labs-powered PC in 1992, the Amy’s capabilities were laughable.

(And, as an aside, I don’t think that Tramiel would have made a difference had he stayed. After leaving Commodore, he promptly went and drove Atari into the ground.)

Model from the 80s of an Evergreen Airlines cargo jet. Note the markings on the cargo!

New photo by Skip Franklin

Not to rehash 25-year-old arguments, but that PC couldn’t multitask worth shit until 1995. :) And your beloved SoundBlaster only had one or two digital audio channels.

I stayed primarily Amiga until Windows 95 hit. My DOS PC was just a game machine for titles not available on Amiga.

LOL you almost lured me into this one, but I’ll just summarize my position: for me, AotP and 3DS4 killed the Amiga for me :)

Got it! Ironically, I can’t play games on the best game machine of 1983 because my kid is playing Fortnite on the best game machine of 2018. (Xbox One X.) But he has promised to join me for some 8-bit fun afterwards.




It’s TINY. I hope they follow through with the full keyboard version, which is what I actually crowdfunded. But you can plug in a USB keyboard and storage on this one and use it as a computer.

Nice, let us know your impressions!

Here’s the games list for anyone interested: https://thec64.com/games/

That looks really cool. I’d be very interested in finding out how it plays.

Do want. There’s nothing stopping me from firing up VICE, but that’s so cute

Still have my C-128. How long can 5 1/4 floppies last?

It has Impossible Mission. This makes me so tempted.

Yeah, but no Blue Max, no Choplifter, no Loderunner. I’m not convinced just yet.

As a former big C64 gamer, I wish that list had way more stuff that I actually played. Epyx games are nice, except for missing the Wolfenstein games. Of course that’s probably a licensing issue with Bethesda/id at this point.

Missing all EA games.

It’s missing most of the games that I played the most. Ultima, Mail Order Monsters, Archon, Karateka, Commando, Maniac Mansion, Defender of the Crown, Infiltrator, Leaderboard Golf, Rush’n’Attack, Racing Construction Set, Raid on Bungling Bay, Phantasy, Bard’s Tale, Loderunner. Also missing are ones I’m less proud of spending a bunch of time with, like Strip Poker or Fast Hack’em.

No sale.