Commodorians Part 4
This was one of the three mega exhibits for the 40th anniversary of the big three appliance computers launched in 1977. Anthony Becker, Jeffrey Brace, Chris Fala, Todd George (captain), & Bill Winters combined their skills, collection, and love for Commodore equipment to showcase the PET-2001′s family tree.
Commodore launched the Amiga line in 1985, and with it a whole new breed of computer geek was born. A powerhouse multimedia computer that was outclassing the graphics and sound capabilities of any competing home computers, the Amiga series was sold until the company’s demise in 1994.
Anthony Becker & Bill Winters brought their sizable Amiga collection, spanning the full series starting with the Amiga 1000. The real sales powerhouses were the Amiga 2000 and its less expensive, less expandable counterpart, the Amiga 500. The 1200, 3000, 4000, and CD32 rounded out the bunch, showing what was happening in the final days at Commodore. The CD32 in particular has some amazing games and demos to show the kind of graphics it could produce.
If I asked what machine was considered the heir to the Commodore 64′s throne, what would your answer be? The C128, with full backwards compatibility and features bursting out of the seams? The Amiga 500, filling a similar niche as an inexpensive, graphically capable gaming machine? There was a different heir apparent in the works that never saw full production…
The real gem of this display was the prototype machine from 1990/91: the Commodore 65. 8-bit development was passe, everyone else was focusing on new Amiga machines to fill out the various market niches. Then some guy in who didn’t really work well with anyone else was working on the Commodore 65.
It included an internal 1581 3½ floppy drive, a keyboard not all that dissimilar from the C128′s, 128K of RAM stock, expandable to 8MB, 4096 possible colors, a 320x200 256 color mode, and a 1280x400 16 color mode. It used the CSG 4510 processor, running at 3.54MHz. This machine never left the prototype stage, but a handful of Commodore 65′s have made their way to collectors over the years. No software exists for the machine, so it doesn’t have anything to show off besides some disks of unfinished demos, and a rainbow boot screen.
Speaking of the 1581, the exhibit had an impressive drive tower. Stacked drives included the 1571, 1541-II, 1581, aftermarket Blue Chip drive, and CMD FD-4000. Commodore fans seem to like making drive towers, and I completely understand this fascination.
While it doesn’t get talked about much, Commodore did make IBM PC compatibles for a few years. The PC 10-III and the PC 40-III were on display, in full Commodore livery but with x86 compatibility under the hood. Sadly, neither of these oddities were demonstrated.