jeffrey todd

8

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.

Saddest prison fight ever 🙄. The guy who is crouching down and covering his face is Jeffrey Todd Newsome. I’ve posted his bio on here. I guess he’s used to fighting/killing women so he doesn’t know how to act when a man is roughing him up. 😌

10

Commodorians Part 1

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.

Before Commodore Business Machines was making computers, they were making office equipment, namely typewriters.  They got into the game of manufacturing adding machines, followed by calculators which were constantly decreasing in size while improving their capabilities.  During the calculator wars, Texas Instruments had an upper hand in the market by being a main source of calculator integrated circuits.  In an attempt to subvert TI’s control, Commodore purchased MOS Technology so they could produce their own semiconductors in house. 

It just so happened that MOS had a microprocessor, the now famous 6502, which they were using in the KIM-1 trainer./demonstrator. Commodore continued selling the KIM-1 with their own branding, and one was on display acting as a clock.

However, the 6502 really shined in their first home computer, the PET-2001, available initially in an 8K version and a short lived 4K version.  The PET was unique compared to its contemporary appliance home computers (the Apple II and TRS-80 Model I) in that it included a monitor and tape drive all in the same chassis.  You’ll also note that the case of the 2001 is made from metal, not plastic like the competition.  In true Commodore fashion, this was a money saving move – they re-purposed their file cabinet manufacturing arm to make cases for the PET line resulting in very sturdy cases.  The keyboards were re-purposed from cash registers, resulting in an incredibly clunky and uncomfortable design that didn’t last long. 

I made it a personal mission to sit down at the PET-2001-8, just as I had at my first VCF East a decade ago, and program something.  I tweaked the existing random character generator program on screen to use different PETSCII graphics than the demonstrator they had set up.  This is an early blue bezel model, which makes up for the terrible chiclet keyboard.

The PET-2001 was succeeded by the 4000 and 8000 series machines, boasting larger screen options, a proper full travel QWERTY keyboard, more memory, better external interfaces, and more advanced versions of Microsoft BASIC.  The IEEE-488 interface was fully implemented by this point, and was used with larger storage mediums like the 4040 and 8050 dual floppy drives, and rare CBM D9090 hard disk drive.  The real oddity here is the very late SFD1001 drive, which uses the IEEE-488 parallel interface, but crams it into the case of a later 1541 drive more synonymous with the C64.