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Wednesday, February 25: The Commodore 64 Is Alive

Joshua Brentano

Network your Commodore 64 to your PC and run your favorite old games right off your hard drive.

In 1982, Commodore Business Machines introduced the Commodore 64 home computer. It came with a whopping 64KB of RAM and 20KB of ROM, with built-in Microsoft BASIC, custom sound, and color graphics, all for a mere $600! During 1983, the price of a C64 dropped to $200, and it quickly became one of the best-selling computers of all time, reaching more than 20 million units sold.

And that's when my dad bought us a Commodore 64.

It used a dazzling, beautiful array of 16 colors. We'd never seen anything like it. (It certainly kicked Atari's butt!) Those colors created some of my all-time favorite games, and we quickly amassed a collection of hundreds of games.

Just the other day I stumbled across our C64 carcass, and it prompted me to revisit my favorite games.

We all know that you can download the Mame emulator, load up any C64 ROM you want, and play all those old games in Windows. But I want to run them from my Commodore computer, authentic-like.

Step 1: Hardware

  1. Find your Commodore 1541 floppy drive (http://www.64hdd.com/c64-proj.html).

  2. You'll need an XE1541 cable. You can buy one or build one (http://sta.c64.org/xe1541c.html).

  3. Sacrifice an older PC to the cause. Because of the internal timings of your C64 and PC, they have difficulty talking to each other. And unfortunately, the newer and faster the PC, the more difficult this becomes. I recommend an old Pentium/486 class PC for this project.

Step 2: Setup

  1. Download and unzip 64HDD (http://www.64hdd.com/c64-proj.html). The trick is getting 64HDD and the ROMs you want copied to the older machine. Many users have successfully set up 64HDD on machines running Windows (details can be found at the 64HDD website). However, I recommend formatting the HD and installing any pre-Windows version of DOS.

  2. Download ROMs that you want to play. My favorite site is c64.com. (Note that you need to own the original game to legally use a ROM.) If you download many of them, like I did, break them into smaller subdirectories—say, alphabetically.

  3. Burn the 64HDD directory and the ROMs to CD.

  4. Copy the 64HDD directory to C:\ (C:\64hdd).

  5. Copy the ROMs to C:\ROMS.

  6. Connect the C64 to your PC's parallel port using the XE1541 cable.

  7. Connect your C64 to a TV and turn it on.

Site of the Night: How to Make Lembas

Megan enters the freaky stage of her Lord of the Rings fandom by following this recipe for fictional hotcakes: http://greenbooks.theonering.net/moonletters/recipes/files/r060102_01.html.

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