Nostalgia - C64 Manuals

Sat, Jul 13, 2013

I was cleaning out some old boxes this morning and was delighted to find a few of my old Commodore 64 books and manuals.

Looking through them unleashed a whole range of nostalgia, emotions, and memories of that first computer, that first working program, and yes, that first unfinished game :-)

It was christmas ‘84 when my dad bought a c64 for my sister and I, and while I think it was secretly for himself, that certainly didn’t last once I got my hands on it!

He forgot to buy a tape deck (yup, tape, I don’t think the 5.25” floppy drive was available in England for a few more years) - so we couldn’t load the 2 games we had (Ghostbusters and Manic Miner) and would have to wait for the shops to open after christmas to solve that problem.

What else could I do but read the manual! and that pretty much determined the rest of my life.

Back then the manual was much more than just how to turn on the machine. It actually taught you how to program your computer!

It introduced the BASIC programming language and showed you how to make the machine do your bidding, including music and graphics. It introduced sprites, and if you learnt on a c64, you almost certainly had this little hot air balloon wandering around your screen!

I remember trying to make a defender-style game with this sprite, but it didn’t really work out well since hot air balloons are not exactly known for their speedy sideways motion!

It didn’t take long before I was looking beyond the manual, trying to figure out how some of the games were doing their tricks, like smooth scrolling, and bitmapped graphics, and getting more than 8 sprites on screen at once. That lead to magazines and more books…

… and eventually 6510 assembler language.

Switching from BASIC to assembler opened up a whole new world of speed and control over the machine. I’m pretty sure that at some earlier point in my life I could have told you what this was doing in an instant…

Once I’d switched to assembler that was it, I was hooked, and programming computers, in one form or another, is what I’ve been doing for the last 30 years, and more than likely what I’ll be doing for the next 30 as well!



… and here are a couple more random pictures: