No, seriously... Collecting the Commodore 64 in the U.S.

Chris Kennedy's picture

I missed the boat on the Commodore 64. I never really played any games on it. Sure, I used it in school. But hey - that's different.

Sometimes you are limited to what the family has. I grew up with an IBM PC when it was made by IBM. School typically had a segregated lab. No. No. Not like *that*. What I mean is that Apple IIs were on one side and C64s were on the other. I recall messing around with a "game" on the C64 where you rotate an icon/cursor that was called a "turtle" and could give it instructions to draw some pictures. That was about all we had as far as games were concerned.

So flash forward to present day. I started collecting video games around 2000. I mostly started buying games that I never owned on the systems I still did. Perhaps I missed out on this NES game or that SNES game. I even rounded out the Atari 2600 collection a bit. It quickly grew to other popular systems, and the library of games was growing.

I took a break from the collecting for a little while and came back in the last couple of years. Now I've been acquiring some of the "odd systems." Some of them are niche systems. Others are older computers. These are some of the systems for which you don't see thousands upon thousands of ebay auctions. I now own 2 MSX machines, a CDI, a 3DO, and a Commodore 64.

So let's talk C64. It is a little harder to jump in on this than I thought. Compared to the NES or SNES, you can't just jump on ebay and have multiple sellers, starting prices, etc for the C64 games you want. You have to get lucky and hope someone lists it...with a buy it now for less than $100. My first real score for the system was a boxed lot of several games - Zork I, Zork II, Zork III, Pool of Radiance, Heroes of the Lance, Hillsfar, Curse of the Azure Bonds, and Secret of the Silver Blades. I have yet to almost play any of these as it took several months of me waiting for the right time to take apart and work on the 1541. Soon after I got the games, none of them worked. I was happy that it sounded like a typical problem with a 1541 floppy drive that could be repaired. I have decent abilities when it comes to game electronics, but finding time to tackle something is tough. This is sometimes an even greater problem when it involves hardware you haven't messed with before.

By the time I repaired the 1541, my C64 kick had died off. Now it is on the rise again. I picked up a complete Archon off ebay....except...it was the PC version (seller gave me a refund). So once again, my C64 kick gets shot down.

What's on the list? Well, I suppose I am looking for a few odds and ends. Some are to play and some are to simply own. Others are out of pure curiosity. Archon, Legacy of the Ancients, Arkanoid, G.I. Joe, The Great Gianna Sisters, Impossible Mission, Wasteland, heck...Transformers (two of them, right?). I suppose I wouldn't mind checking out M.U.L.E. and Elite as well thanks to Matt Chat and a few times where I think "I need to seriously play that some day" as the years roll by.

So is there a good "go to" place for C64 collecting? Is there just a drought on ebay? Should I be patient? Looking for suggestions of markets from you guys as well as games to add to the list. I asked for games a little while back on monroeworld, but I really need to just find out if I should be looking on ebay or elsewhere.

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Bill Loguidice
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Well, I tend to stick with

Well, I tend to stick with eBay and lots of patience, though I do love Chase the Chuckwagon for auctions as well (in fact, I just signed us up for an affiliate program with them):

I would also check on: http://marketplace.vintage-computer.com/

Here are some stores: http://64andmore.com/
http://www.collectorscardsandgames.com/
http://www.digitaldinos.com/DigitalDinos/Pages/Main/docWelcomeToDigitalD...
http://www.retrogames.co.uk/
http://www.tradengames.com/

Also, you can shoot me an e-mail and I can send you a list of my C-64 stuff. I'd be willing to sell any duplicates for a fair price.

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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yakumo9275
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The c64 has some really cool

The c64 has some really cool stuff to collect.

Ever see the cmd super cpu box + ram attachment? thats neat.

I do my hunting on ebay. OK, I look a lot and convince myself out of buying. Mostly because the state of vice emulator is so good and old hardware, we are getting to a point where you need to watch out for leaking capacitors and such.

the other problem as you noted is diskdrives, these old drives die at an amazing rate (heck I remember going through at least 7 or 8 drives back when c64 was the 'in thing').

Collecting old hardware and such kind of turns me off now (I was about to buy a nice laser 128ex....) also would love to score a nice c= 128dcr

but then I argue with myself I'd never use them.

What kind of c64 stuff are you looking to collect? just software?

I dont know how many mint copies of giana sisters will ever show up and then be affordable since its super collectable :)

-- Stu --

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Matt Barton
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I'm with Stu on this one,

I'm with Stu on this one, though I can definitely understand the appeal of something like Bill's massive collection. Emulation is strictly about convenience, and you inevitably lose a great deal of authenticity, arguably even with old DOS games. On the flip side, though, you get more functionality, such as the ability to "warp," save states, stream video/screenshots, the list goes on. You also don't have to deal with the constant tape or disk loading errors. :)

I don't think I ever had a 1541 that lasted more than 2-3 years of regular use.

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Bill Loguidice
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Personal perspectives that may or may not apply to all
Matt Barton wrote:

I don't think I ever had a 1541 that lasted more than 2-3 years of regular use.

It's funny how that varies. I *still* have my original 1541 and it works perfectly after thousands of hours of use, including using it for some questionable things like "drive music".

These days of course, there are many solid state solutions for a variety of platforms that pretty much give you the best of both worlds in regards to the old emulation versus authentic debate. You still get to use the original console or computer, but you can copy ROMs and images to flash cards or other things and use that like a disk/tape drive/cartridge port. I know I always make a point of getting those for a particular platform when I can.

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Mark Vergeer
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Two 1541's without faults

Yeah 'drive music' was a definite drive killer. My two 1541's both white models work beautifully. I was always very careful with them though as I tend to be with all my hardware so my stuff ends up looking great with old-age.

I do have a true-1541 emulating flash card now and it loads quite a bit of drive fastloading software but those carts are not a replacement for a true drive as the 1541 emulation in the most advanced flashcards is still far from perfect. The best way to get all the old software running is with Vice, true 1541 emulation and a suzo arcade stick connected over USB as HID. But it is NOT the same as running the real thing on a CRT TV.

The European C64 scene was very different form the US C64. But there was swapping with US users and world wide BBS usage. In Europe the best way to get your hands on C64 stuff is to actually buy someone's collection. Ebay or more European centred or national variants of these trading websites are good ways to get a collection going. Websites like Backgames specializing in retro software and old computers are the way to go. Backgames is actually located in my home-town. The website is in Dutch if you need some translating I'd be happy to do so.

Here some other European sites that often do offer world-wide shipping, but sadly are more console-centred:
www.genkivideogames.com - Specializes in Japanese videogames where the staff is actually acquiring the good locally
www.videogameimports.com - more of a console based trader
www.retrogamingworld.co.uk - has quite a bit of old computer software !!!!
www.consolepassion.co.uk - online ordering and worldwide shipping of games, consoles and handhelds

There are quite a few PAL c64 releases that will work perfectly fine on NTSC devices and vice-versa but it is always good to check whether or not your NTSC C64 will run the UK games properly.

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Hammer
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Back in the day I had a C128

Back in the day I had a C128 with a 1571 disk drive. The 1541s were notorious for being unreliable, while the 1571s were much better. I would try to get one of those.

My other not so fond memory of the Commodore era was that the machine had 2 joystick ports. Some games used port #1, but for some reason most of the games I liked to play ("Bruce Lee" was an exception) required port #2. Almost everyone I knew who had a C64 or a C128 also had a broken port #2 for some reason. Wear and tear maybe? Who knows.

Mark Vergeer
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that made me get 2 sticks

I actually forked out money for two suzo arcade sticks to avoid breaking the ports.
Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Bill Loguidice
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I used to hate the joystick

I used to hate the joystick port switcheroo as well. I used to also do the faux pas of plugging and unplugging joysticks with the power on. Luckily I never had issues. In fact I never had issues with any of my C64 stuff save for when my original model - which I still have - got hit by lightning and the graphics got a bit scrambled. It's why I ended up with a C64c and GEOS.
Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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You weren't supposed to plug

You weren't supposed to plug and unplug joysticks with the power on? Geez, I did that all the time and never had any issues at all, with either the C-64 or the Amiga.

I did get sick of having to unplug the mouse from the Amiga to plug in a joystick. Eventually, port #1 developed a loose pin, so I had to have a pair of tweezers on standby whenever I had to switch out. Sigh.

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Calibrator
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Joystick ports
Matt Barton wrote:

You weren't supposed to plug and unplug joysticks with the power on? Geez, I did that all the time and never had any issues at all, with either the C-64 or the Amiga.

The joystick ports of the C64/Amiga are similar to the ones Atari used - in fact so similar that you can use the same joysticks and paddles. The interface chip (and support circuitry) only expects simple switches or variable resistors for paddles - both of which can be hot plugged.

So no harm in plugging them in while the system is powered - even static discharges shouldn't be a problem. The manual may say otherwise because of liability reasons, though.

take care,
Calibrator

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