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Commodore Business Machines


The now-defunct Commodore Business Machines is one of my favorite computer companies. Founded in 1958, they made all sorts of business equipment like typewriters and mechanical adding machines, before getting involved in the calculator wars in the early/mid 1970s before moving on to computers in '77. In 1982 they began selling their most famous machine, the Commodore 64, selling millions of units. Following the departure of the company's founder, Jack Tramiel, in 1984, the company lost its way, eventually going bankrupt in 1994. Certain aspects of CBM held on in weird ways, as the Commodore brand was batted around between various other entities in hopes of cashing in on the namesake.

Today, all that remains are memories, some former employees, and an absolute mountain of computers. My formal entry into the vintage computing hobby came with the purchase of a C64 in fall of 2004. I latched onto the 8-bit machine, initially hoping to play video games on it. However, I've trended away from using it soley as a games machine since then. Over time, the bulk of my interest has shifted towards repair work, messing around in BASIC, and finding or modifying my own peripherals for my Commodore machines.

I mentioned I had met a few Commodore employees: Bil Herd, Dave Haynie, Robert Russell, Greg Berlin, Leonard Tramiel... I think there's one more, but it was a brief "hello" at DEFCON, and I can't remember the guy's name.

The bulk of my interest (and collection) is now devoted to the C64's predicessor, the VIC-20 from 1981. Something about the simplistic and barebones nature of the design gives it a charm that I can't ignore. The VIC is easily my favorite vintage computer ever.

While most of my Commodore machines are unmodified, I do have a few that have undergone extensive repairs and modifications. I avoid modifying a machine irriversibly when possible, but if a machine is cosmetically or electrically damaged, I sometimes take the liberty of adding some visual flare and functional upgrades for fun and improved longevity. For example, my PC40-III came to me with a failed hard drive, so it now sports a Glitchworks manufactured XT-IDE Rev 3 and a disk on module. My VIC-20's have seen more repair work than anything else, and more than half of them have atleast a few swapped chips. I've got a pair of basket-case machines (a C64 and a VIC) which have been rebuilt from the discarded husks of multiple computers, and have been customized more heavily than others.








VIC-20's



This page was last updated on 9-21-2021
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