Sunday Nerding: Commodore 64

Back to my computing roots this week, with the Commodore 64.

This computer came into my family in September of 1984, and I was hooked from day one – and ultimately, it became the foundation of my career in computing.

Some of my first breakout computing moments happened on this machine.

Like being told off in Year 11 for writing chemistry practical reports on it, but not being able to print subscript characters in chemical equations. I was told to “fix it”, or hand in hand-written reports only.

I saw this as a backward step – the solution?

I wrote my own print driver that could do the subscript and superscript characters that the standard print drivers that came with my word processing package couldn’t do.

I also had a flashback watching this program – I was a user of the GEOS operating system mentioned near the start. Using the desktop publishing features it describes – (and some of my own programming) – almost everything I did in my Year 11 and Year 12 studies was done on computer, and presented quite uniquely.

I just went through a lot of ribbon cartridges on my Okimate MCS-810 printer in the process!

Perhaps the crowning glory for my Commodore 64 was a Year 11 maths assignment, where we were given a task to use one of the several ancient methods for calculating the value of Pi.

Everyone else used paper pads, pens, and hand calculators to roll through the various methods and come up with theories on what the value would be if they went through right to the end.

I wrote 10 lines of BASIC code on a Friday night and went to bed.

By Sunday afternoon, the computer had processed 167,949 iterations through the formula, and delivered me a value for Pi that matched my theory for what it would be.

I got the best mark of the whole year level for that assignment.

I still have my Commodore 64 in a box in a cupboard – the last time I tried it, it still worked, though the sound chip seemed to have died.

Ahh, memories.