Memories of Writing BASIC on the Commodore 64

My family had a Commodore 64 from maybe 1983 – 1992 or so. My friend Nathan and I would type in BASIC code we found in books he’d bring home from the library, just like this guy is doing, because we wanted to see what it would do. It was like having access to magic spells. How does it work? Who knows? It doesn’t matter. It’s magic! Let’s try it!

We’d take turns line by line, typing in one character at a time, reading them to each other.

Half the time, we made a typo somewhere 20 lines up and couldn’t find it, and certainly didn’t have the knowledge necessary to debug it, so we’d just move on. I was surprised when I saw how easy it is to edit code and add new code in this demo. I had no idea that was possible! Whoops. Though I guess I should give myself a break because I was 9 years old at the time, and no one was teaching me how to do any of this.

Brings back fond memories. Technology seems less magical now, and I don’t think that’s only because of my experience. Maybe the ubiquity of it has demystified it somehow.

One thought on “Memories of Writing BASIC on the Commodore 64

  1. Ah, memories! I had the whole Commodore line: The original PET (financed by my newspaper route), then VIC-20 (ugh), then C64, and then a couple Amigas.

    The C64 was such a great little machine for the price. The Commodore engineers were clever at getting the most out of the hardware; for instance, the C64 actually had 64K of RAM, but it only had a 64K address space, so the ROMs were mapped overtop in some places, masking the RAM underneath. But there were toggles to actually turn the ROMs off; you could expose all the RAM, if you were careful to copy what you needed from ROM first — or potentially write your own OS!

    What I loved about the PCs in those days is they were so hobbyist-friendly. The Commodore manuals had a complete schematic of the electronics; I was into hobbyist electronics, too, in those days, and I was able to do things like add sound to the PET, or a dialer for the modem on my C64. That’s a great environment for kids to get interested and be able to learn.

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