Commodore Computers arrived in the world during the early days of what would be known to many as the “Computer Wars”. Everyone had a computer out. There was Dos versions, Apple versions, Atari versions, etc. It was a period of fierce growth and war to remain at the top of the game.
Today, just about everyone knows who won the war. Well, almost everyone…opinions still vary. Many people claim that Apple, with it’s Macintosh computers, Ipods, and cell phones won. Others claim that Microsoft is the winner. Ask some and they will tell you there is nothing except Linux computers. Ironically, they are all based on Unix now, the language of the Internet. But back in the 1980s, the Internet was still far away, and as the battle raged, one computer rose above them all in sales.
The Commodore 64 would become the world’s best selling computer…ever. Even to this day, the record is still held by the little tan computer with the dial up modems, 5 1/4 floppy disk, and television hook ups. It may be because new versions today often come out before the old version has even left the shelf, but whatever the reason is, the Commodore 64 still reigns as the best selling. It brought along with it the Vic-20, the 16, the 64C, and the 128. Eventually, Amiga would be born and fly through versions 500, 1000, 2000 etc. The Amiga would be so powerful that it would end up rendering some of the first CGI for television (Babylon 5).
Despite being years ahead of the competition, mismanagement and perhaps reliance on the 64 to carry on forever, would eventually doom Commodore to bankruptcy in 1994. There has since been attempts to relight the Commodore flame, but they have all fell short.
As in all things, time marched on. Many Commodore users put away their old systems in favor of newer, faster, and up-to-date systems. Closets, storage buildings, and basements became the home for Commodores and Amigas alike. Then, as is often the case, when it came time to clean out those closets, storage buildings and basements, the Commodores found themselves in second hand stores, garage sales, and…as much as it pains me to think about it, even in the trash.
It seemed Commodore would fade forever…but then something magical happened. Despite the failures of the management of Commodore, despite the age of the systems, despite the poor graphics when compared to today’s systems, there was a resurgences. In an age that the Commodore never predicted, the Internet, the Commodore came alive again. E-bay started seeing good sale prices on 64s, 20s, and other systems with price ranges from $50 and even up to $200 for systems. Websites (some linked here) began to spring up, and Facebook even has three major groups dedicated to the systems. That magical event that happened was….Retro.
Retro means it is cool to have your fancy new Mac or your Windows Surface, but it also means you can 64, 20, 120, 500 etc. still running on the desk right beside your new system. Retro means it is cool to buy the old games, play them again, watch the screen appear with the blue background and the awkward type (yep, like this site) and sit and wait for a two dimensional game to load up where you destined to do battle with other two dimensional characters. It meant you could play the Olympics and ski downhill again, or play some of the first Batman games, and it meant you could walk “into a room and face a door, what do you want to do?” in text based games. But Retro also means you can share ideas with others, push systems to the limit and in some cases, fire up the BBS boards again and even have people actually visit them!
Retro also means, memories. That’s why this page was born. As I sat looking at the Commodore Vic 20 that arrived in the mail the other day, I had the same feelings that I had way back when the first one arrived in my home. I was in awe. Sure, my Macbook pro can blow the doors off the 20, but that pro can never replace my memories. It can never take back those first years of the computer wars when things were new, nobody had a computer, and those who did…well those who did have the memories.
So, sit down and break out the new computer, look at your 20, 64, 128, etc. and start writing some of those memories. Once you have them, develop a little bio about yourself (don’t be shy) and give us your story. Do you have your own page, business site, etc.? Then give us the link in your story or in your bio. You can never tell what will happen and result when those in the Retro Universe read your story…they may just decide to do business with another Commodore user…after all, it is the friendly computer.