Commodore 256 under construction


Eh? One of the first Power Macs came with a DOS Compatibility card, complete with a 66 MHz 486DX2.


But anything based around the 68K or 6809 wouldn’t have been backwards compatible with existing software.

A huge base of existing software is pretty much the only advantage that Tandy/Apple/Commodore had over the IBM PC in the beginning and all 3 threw that advantage away. Tandy & Apple couldn’t really do anything about it due to the lack of 16 bit CPUs backwards compatible with their 8 bitters, but Commodore owned MOS technology at the time, so they definitely could have…


Correct! the Amy (as it’s known to the die-hard fans) used the (venerable) motorola 68K CPU and a handful of very custom chips to work it’s magic.

the Commodore 128 was a dual-CPU system; it had a CMOS 6510 for full 99.999%* compatibility with the 64, including almost all of the peripherals, and a Z80 CPU which required it’s own OS for bootstrapping; it was absolutely not PC compatible, but could read/write FAT formatted discs for file transfer (and I want to say that it needed a specific executable to manage that). The CPU selection was done, IIRC, at POST either by booting from an OS disc, or by holding a certain key combination down.

  • the 0.0001% were programs that did exceedingly clever tricks with the C64 hardware if I remember right; I think one of them was a demo from one of the demo group or C64 hacking groups back in the day.


(I might have rose tinted glasses on; my very first system was a VIC-20, then a C128, then PC, although I did find the tote with the two A500s I have in my personal collection; one’s got a bad UART chip that I really should track down and replace if possible…)


I don’t think that lost world had much to do with the hardware. I think a lot of 1980s programmers started by typing in “complete” programs from magazines. That always goes wrong. Then you had to fix it. You also saw things that were obvious to change (all the strings!). That could lead you to changin non-obvious things…

Some people also think booting into a programming language (BASIC) was an important inroads. I’m unconvinced, but could be.

Some people think it is more about who “owns” the computer as you need hours of time in a row to really get places in programming & being interrupted by everyone wanting to check in to Facebook is detrimental to that. I’m less convinced because I did much of my learning on dial up mainframe access, which got interrupted by Call waiting.

Some of my thinking on this has been shap d by watching the raspberry pi folks. Who seem to be having significant success in getting kids into programming again, although they have only been running a few years. Hopefully they have continued success.


But you can say that the demo scene rocked hard.


We had to bang rocks together to get our ones and zeros back in my day!


Isn’t the “and clones” the crux? Commodore 64 rocked it for a single brand single model machine. Your graph is more about OS, than single brand/model hardware.


it’s a real shame that the few Commodore 65 youtube videos are unwatchable because of monitor flicker

1991 does seem rather late for such a device.


Quadra 610 DOS Compatible had a 486SX 25 MHz.


Well, you can keep going and make a “No True Scotsman” argument to the point where it becomes tautological… the Commodore 64 was the most successful Commodore 64 in history, that’s absolutely true. :slight_smile:

But computers using Intel chips based on the 386 memory architecture outsold Commodore, and by any objective measure that makes the Microsoft/Intel computer (regardless of whether the chassis says IBM on it or not) the best selling and most successful computer in history.

And if you want to just insist on a single vendor, OS and architecture, I don’t know who would win, but it sure wouldn’t be Commodore! Lenovo sold more Windows PCs last year alone than the most grandiose claims of the Commodore fans.


yea. that was basically as expensive as buying two PCs. and there were lots of performance issues with that card.

I think ultimately we needed some backward compatibility that was built-in and cheap. Amiga’s PC-Bridgecards support was better than what Apple slapped together 4-5 years later.

And I really don’t consider Apple to have been a contender for upsetting the PC dominance of that era. (hindsight being 20/20) PC industry really took off because of clones, and clones were not something that Apple was not really comfortable in allowing except in the most rigidly controlled fashion that in the end was not effective.

Apple’s lack of transparency, openness, and the level of custom chips in even their early machines put them squarely in the same camp as Commodore, Amiga, Tandy, ZX Spectrum, and other home computers. Too many ASICs and even the companies making these home computers were not interested in maintaining compatibility with their own product lines. Early PCs and the later MSX could at least be built by any small time with a little know how and an electronics catalog.

Of course the whole open architecture thing was a disaster for IBM. I wonder if they could have charged $5/unit license for ROM-BIOS if they could have avoided the reverse engineering effort that ripped the PC from IBM’s control.


You had ones? Lucky! We had to make do with just the zeros.

But we were happy.


I always feel like in a way the computer industries have taken the wrong turn somewhere between the mid 1980s to early 2000s where instead of further diversification of hardware and software we’ve seen an arbitrary centralization of all aspects of computing. Seeing people go back to build hypothetical computers seem like a decent exploration of what might’ve been our present or possibly what could be our future under the right circumstances.


68K was backwardly and forwardly compatible with a whole family of 68K cpus. CP/M-68K could run on a variety of boards as well, so there was at least one OS API/ABI that could run applications in multiple platforms.

If the first PC were 68K, we wouldn’t have a bunch of legacy 8088 software, we’d have a bunch of legacy 68K software. Which would have avoided a lot of the 640k/1M limits we suffered in the DOS days. the whole real-mode vs protected-mode switch. And the weirdness of 286 extended memory. An 80286 was about $360 in 1982, 68000 was $487 in 1984, 386DX was $299 in 1985. While the 80C88 was a much smaller chip than a 68K, despite being only a year older, the 386DX was about 3x the size of a 68K and only marginally more powerful. But Intel was making them way cheaper.

Apple IIgs was probably the best in that it was very compatible with Apple II, but also 65C816 was also quite a bit more capable than the 6502. But IIgs didn’t come out until about 5 years after the PC. no hope by then. On top of that it competed with the Macintosh so Apple really had no choice but to kill it.


That’s the story of everybody in the late 80s-early 90s. 68k is the best, but it’s too expensive so we’re using this horribly braindamaged chip instead. Apple went 68k, but also charged $2,500 and it had an absolutely inadequate 128k of RAM.


the most important being that it was a DOS compatible card. No linux for you. Possiby not even NT.


macintosh: 1984
amiga: 1985
iigs: 1986
mac ii: (with COLOR) 1987

of course, the mac ii was fantastically expensive,


Let us never speak of this again.



Standard expansion slots that would have allowed them to upgrade connectivity, sound and graphics.

And for the 1980s - a really good BASIC supplied as standard on every machine.