Commodore 64 turns 30

Many people our age wouldn’t remember the Commodore 64, but for older people, and for those our age who do remember it, it was the first PC to be popular with the average consumer. Beforehand, computers were only seen as a necessity for business use. Today it turned 30 years old. It was significantly cheaper than similar products from its competitors, such as IBM, Apple and Atari, even though it was US$595 when it came out in 1982, or about US$1,400 today.

Its specs may be seem laughable for our time, but in 1982, 64 KB of RAM, 16 colors and 1 MHz processor were powerful enough to carry the system for twelve years, eventually ceasing production in 1994 after selling between 12.5 and 17 million units. Its popularity peaked in the late 1980s as computers began to penetrate into the home market.

Some people argue that its tape storage and 5.25″ floppy disks were the genesis of software piracy, as the large userbase of the Commodore 64 and the rise of BBSes contributed to people acquiring software from one another and copying it onto blank floppy disks, despite the copy protection in place. Many users were able to easily circumvent the copy protection, forcing software companies to develop more sophisticated ways of protecting their software. However, the Commodore 64 had also been the genesis of several aspects of a computer that we now use today, such as the Multi-User Dungeon (the world’s first MMORPG), word processors, spreadsheets, and even the ability to use third party operating systems such as Wheels and GEOS (Commodore 64 came with BASIC 2.0).

It was also a gadget that had incredible connectivity for its time. It had expansion slots for joysticks, mice, cartridges, printers, cassettes, other floppy drives, Atari 2600 game controllers, modems, and even TVs via its RF modulator.