Discovering Computers and Commodore


I started computing in 1978 when I was 11 years old by programming my father’s HP calculator.  After this the local Radio Shack in Needham, Massachusetts started selling computers and I would hang out there.  I remember programming their TRS-80 Model 1 with Level 1 BASIC, a version of Tiny BASIC.

Eventually, there was NEECO, a computer store I could easily walk to from my home.  They sold Commodore, Atari, Superbrain, HP, and Apple amongst others.  It as at this time that I gravitated to the VIC-20 because it was so affordable.  I would write demos for the VIC-20 in the store and they seemed to like having me around.  I ended up buying a lot of issues of Compute! Magazine and learned how to program graphics and sound for the VIC.  At one point, I even managed to write a game that they briefly sold in their store.

One day an older man walked in and bought a complete Apple II+ system because he wanted to write business software.  So, he asked the people at NEECO if they knew where he could find a programmer.  They pointed across the store at me.  He said, “Him?  He’s just a kid.”  They brought him over and he introduced himself as Patrick Alessi.  As it would turn out he lived around the corner from me.   Shortly I would end up spending evenings after school hanging out at Patrick’s house and working on inventory and human resources software for the Apple II+ and IBM PC.  I also ended up eating a lot of cookies, drinking coffee and talking politics.

Patrick later bought me my own VIC-20.  I played games and learned some 6502 machine code.   I also picked up a HES Forth cartridge and learned some of that.  During this time, I even made an attempt at crafting my own programming language, but that would have to wait.  A friend bought a Commodore 64 which he eventually sold to me.

Today the skills that I learned in my youth have served me well, and I’m still writing software today.

I have written a couple of versions of BASIC, inspired by the fun 8-bit computers of his youth.  Liberty BASIC is an easy Windows programming language, and Run BASIC is an easy web programming tool. and
Recently I have rediscovered and invested myself in the computers of my youth.  My concentration has been spent for the most part on the Commodore variety but I do have some other 8-bit machines.    I find those 8-bit machines are just so much fun, and they are simple enough to understand everything about them and powerful enough to do so many things.  I plan to blog about my experiments.  I hope to see others there.

Carl Gundel started his lifelong love of computers and programming in 1978, during the early years of the home computer drive.  During a time when the idea of a “home computer” was new, Carl was learning to program, hanging out at stores, and even writing his own code.   Those early skills and lessons have stuck with him through the years and he has continued to program computers and enjoy the computer world.  He has recently returned to the computers of his youth, including our favorite Commodore.  His programs are online and he is currently working on a blog: and
As for this Commodore Computers page, we’re excited that Carl shared his experiences and the article above with us!