Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 1st Aug 2012 22:45 UTC, submitted by MOS6510
Hardware, Embedded Systems "It is 30 years since the Commodore 64 went on sale to the public. The machine was hugely successful for its time, helping to encourage personal computing, popularise video games and pioneer homemade computer-created music. [...] BBC News invited Commodore enthusiast Mat Allen to show schoolchildren his carefully preserved computer, at a primary school and secondary school in London."
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RE: Comment by MOS6510
by Zbigniew on Mon 6th Aug 2012 10:22 UTC in reply to "Comment by MOS6510"
Zbigniew
Member since:
2008-08-28

* Its chips (video and sound) were great, but they could not be accessed from BASIC without POKEing. Apart from that its BASIC wasn't very good, being almost the same as the VIC-20. Not everybody likes Simon's BASIC, but it would have been an improvement and provide a way to do video and sound stuff from BASIC.
Of course you're right, that it would be better to have it "out of the box" - but, on the other hand, it made a place for variety of extensions: not everyone preferred BASIC (remember Logo, Comal, variety of BASIC extensions, etc.?).

* Fix the bug preventing fast disk access! Disk access was very slow compared to other systems. Fastloaders proved disk access could have been much faster.
It wasn't possible. Commodore engineers too late realized, that VIA6522 (used in 1541 floppy disk station) has "hardware bug". Only the later models (1571) had VIA6522 replaced with CIA6526, having the transfer 5x faster since the very beginning (burst mode).

And once more "of course": as we all saw, it could be "fixed in software" anyway (variety of free "fastloaders") - but most probably they had no time.

* Tape access was slow too.
Indeed it was. But almost every commercial program/game used its own "fast-load" routine.

* There was no reset button.
Yes, actually it was strange, that one had to build it in by himself.

* The C64 would have been much easier to type on (and look at) had they used the C64-C model from the start.
...but maybe more expensive as well. Remember: Tramiel always was going to cut the costs.

* When a C64 was turned on LETTERS WERE CAPS. A bit ugly.
...but also standard behaviour for 8-bitters at these days.

There is another thing, that attracted my attention: fixed colour pallette. It seems to me, that it would be quite easy to make it selectable, e.g. by reserving a few memory cells for intensity of red, green, blue (for every of 16 colours available at the same time), and such solution doesn't seem to raise the costs. Maybe they thought "16 colours will be enough"?

P.S. It could be only 16 cells, each one reserving 2 bits for R,G,B intensity value, respectively. Such way we could have 16 colours at the same time, selectable out of 4*4*4=64 possible colours pallette. And if the remaining 2 bits were used for e.g. "overall intensity", then we could have even more.

Edited 2012-08-06 10:37 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Mon 6th Aug 2012 11:37 in reply to "RE: Comment by MOS6510"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

Of course you're right, that it would be better to have it "out of the box" - but, on the other hand, it made a place for variety of extensions: not everyone preferred BASIC (remember Logo, Comal, variety of BASIC extensions, etc.?).


Anything else but the default made you either load it first or use the cartridge port, which means you couldn't use it for anything else.

Almost every home computer had BASIC standard, even the IBM PC had it. It would have been cool if Commodore had opted for Pascal for example, but commercially BASIC would be the best choice, just a shame they didn't update/extend it compared to the VIC-20.

"* Fix the bug preventing fast disk access! Disk access was very slow compared to other systems. Fastloaders proved disk access could have been much faster.
It wasn't possible. Commodore engineers too late realized, that VIA6522 (used in 1541 floppy disk station) has "hardware bug". Only the later models (1571) had VIA6522 replaced with CIA6526, having the transfer 5x faster since the very beginning (burst mode).

And once more "of course": as we all saw, it could be "fixed in software" anyway (variety of free "fastloaders") - but most probably they had no time.
"

I know, but I was just theorizing how the same computer could have been (much) better without adding to the cost. It was supposed to have much quicker disk access if they hadn't messed it up and only discovered after production had started.

"* Tape access was slow too.
Indeed it was. But almost every commercial program/game used its own "fast-load" routine. "

Indeed, but your own programs didn't. :-p


There is another thing, that attracted my attention: fixed colour pallette. It seems to me, that it would be quite easy to make it selectable, e.g. by reserving a few memory cells for intensity of red, green, blue (for every of 16 colours available at the same time), and such solution doesn't seem to raise the costs. Maybe they thought "16 colours will be enough"?

P.S. It could be only 16 cells, each one reserving 2 bits for R,G,B intensity value, respectively. Such way we could have 16 colours at the same time, selectable out of 4*4*4=64 possible colours pallette. And if the remaining 2 bits were used for e.g. "overall intensity", then we could have even more.


During C64 vs ZX Spectrum wars colors often show up. The C64 had a number of pretty ugly colors, while the Spectrum had very nice ones. The advantage in serious software would be for the Spectrum, but I think the ugly C64 colors worked very well in game graphics. They could very easily be combined to make very nice graphics, while the Spectrum colors were all so bright and distinct that combining them wasn't so easy.

Minds you 16 colors was a very acceptable number those days.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by MOS6510
by Zbigniew on Mon 6th Aug 2012 11:47 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by MOS6510"
Zbigniew Member since:
2008-08-28

Minds you 16 colors was a very acceptable number those days.
I agree - but look: it seems, that it could have been so easily made even better... anyway, VIC has to fetch colour values from somewhere. Just a little modification: instead from some internal register, it could take it from RAM, where the programmer could so easily change it.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by MOS6510
by zima on Wed 8th Aug 2012 23:58 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by MOS6510"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

>> "* Tape access was slow too.
> Indeed it was. But almost every commercial program/game used its own "fast-load" routine. "

Indeed, but your own programs didn't. :-p

But, again, turbo carts worked also for saving stuff...

During C64 vs ZX Spectrum wars colors often show up. The C64 had a number of pretty ugly colors, while the Spectrum had very nice ones. The advantage in serious software would be for the Spectrum, but I think the ugly C64 colors worked very well in game graphics. They could very easily be combined to make very nice graphics, while the Spectrum colors were all so bright and distinct that combining them wasn't so easy.

Minds you 16 colors was a very acceptable number those days.

I'm not sure if "bright and distinct" (as you put it) equals "very nice" ...from the Spectrum stuff I was exposed to, it was more often "garish" (and full of weird & non-beneficiary artefacts, any serious software was mostly monochromatic in those days - curiously, also ~Soviet Spectrum scene demos...)

Still, it is a bit too bad that not much thought went into C64 colour palette, apparently (some trivia and a link about the "choice" of colours: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOS_Technology_VIC-II#Colors ) - it was almost random; they could at least grab some painter or lecturer from the nearest arts academy, for one day...

OTOH, it's not so simple as "16", considering they were displayed on interlaced screens & with quite complex ways of arriving at colours in transmission standards such as PAL ( http://www.studiostyle.sk/dmagic/gallery/gfxmodes.htm )

But TBH, with ~games, I quite quickly came to the conclusion that they look better in 16 shades of grey... (in my room I had my own small B&W TV; during most of the day, I could move the C64 to the living room, where the big colour TV was - but, as I said, I kinda learned to appreciate greyscale, it looked more "refined" IMHO; made you not so sorry you didn't have an Amiga)

Edited 2012-08-09 00:11 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2