Gray Matter


Real Time Reminiscing About Commodore Computers

RT Cunningham | September 19, 2020 (UTC) | Computers

CommodoreI had a Commodore 64C System exactly like the picture in 1988. The system included a Commodore 64C computer, a Commodore 1084S monitor and a Commodore 1541C disk drive. If I remember correctly, I spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 for everything.

Around a year later, I replaced the computer and disk drive with a Commodore 128D. After all, it could boot into 64 mode and play most games designed for the 64. That was more than 30 years ago, which might as well be several lifetimes when it comes to computer advancements.

My Commodore History

I played around with a Commodore 64 (the pre-64C version) when I was stationed on Okinawa in Japan in 1987 and 1988. It belonged to someone else. Shortly after I was transferred to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in 1988, I bought a complete system.

commodoreI played a few games on it, but what I really enjoyed was learning how to program with it. I learned BASIC 2.0 and Assembly Language before selling the computer and disk drive, so I could buy a Commodore 128D. It had a “64 mode” that could run almost everything designed for the C64. The C128D had a C1571 disk drive built into it.

In 1992, I started a bulletin board service with software designed for the C128. I bought some after-market upgrades, which included a battery-backed RAM drive and separate hard drive. If I compared running the BBS without the upgrades to running it with the upgrades, it was like trading in a horse and buggy for a sports car. The speed difference was incredible.

I discontinued the BBS in 1998, shortly after I retired from the military. Sometime between then and when I moved to the Philippines in 2006, a friend of mine put all the equipment into a storage unit along with some of his. I have no idea if that equipment still exists.

The Nostalgia Bug

In October 2016 (when I originally wrote this piece), the nostalgia bug bit me big time and I spent several hours doing some real-time reminiscing. What do I mean by “real-time”, you might ask? I installed VICE (Versatile Commodore Emulator) on the laptop I used every day, which was running Linux Mint. It took a bit of work and some web searching to get the C64 emulator working. I never got the C128 emulator to work.

The Windows version worked almost flawlessly on Windows 10, certainly better than it did on Linux. I installed it in far less time on my other laptop running Windows. The whole purpose behind this exercise was to load and run certain disk images I acquired after doing a lot of reading. Flash forward almost four years.

I was examining snap packages at the Snap Store and discovered vice-jz, a snap version of the same emulator. The store page told me how to install it on Linux Mint, and I had it up and running within five minutes.

Magazines and Floppy Disks

After clearing the cobwebs from my memories (in 2016), I did a few searches for the Commodore computer magazines I used to read way back when. I also searched for disk magazines. I found the Wikipedia page for “Compute!’s Gazette”, as well as the archive for the magazine at

I also found the Wikipedia page for Loadstar, one of the disk magazines I was searching for. By accident, I found some disk images (for the emulator) at I downloaded some of them and viewed them with the emulator. By the way, some Loadstar disks can also be found at The LOADSTAR Library.

If you want to play some retro 64 games, a lot of disk images are available at the game section of Arnold (the FTP server is at I don’t know if the DMCA provision to exclude them from copyright protection still exists (because computers to play the games are no longer sold), so download them at your own risk.

If you get bit by the nostalgia bug and would like more than what an emulator offers, check out THEC64 MINI and THEC64 at Retro Games. From what I can tell, the full-sized version still isn’t available in North America.

Photo Attributions, C64C: Bill Bertram / CC BY-SA, C128D: Rama / CC BY-SA 2.0 FR
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in October 2016.

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