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Chip Hageman's picture

Book release: "Commodore: a Company on the Edge"

I just received an email from Variant Press that Brian Bagnall's excellent book on the history of Commodore is being updated and re-released... Now entitled Commodore: A Company on the Edge, the book features fifteen additional interviews, dozens of period photographs, and is presented in a chronological format with even more first-hand stories.

If you didn't get this book the first time 'round you should definitely consider picking it up now. This book beautifully captures the amazing history of a company that, I'm sure, touched the lives of most readers here.. and it's all told by the people who made it happen. I've read the original multiple times and I personally can't wait to get my mitts on this update.

They are offering signed author copies of the book a month before it hit's Amazon and Barnes & Noble at the publishers website at a cost of $29.95 (USD).


Bill Loguidice's picture

Our Classic CRPG Dreams are Answered with an All New Epic Game for the Commodore 64!

Newcomer (C-64) collageNewcomer (C-64) collageThanks to our friends at GameSetWatch for the excellent blog post informing us of the pending release of a computer role playing game (CRPG) for the legendary Commodore 64 (C-64), entitled, Newcomer. Apparently 20 years in the making, this appears to be the epitome of "epic", with top notch visuals, enhanced interactions, and everything else you'd expect from a modern day C-64 game. According to GameSetWatch, "The game has elements from both classic adventure titles and tabletop roleplaying games, placing an emphasis on interacting with characters, exploring the world, developing in/game and real life skills, and solving puzzles.

It's a massive title (for the C64), as one would expect after 20 years of development. Newcomer features 180+ characters to interact with (each with their own portraits), 10+ people who can join your party of six, 50+ areas created with 30+ graphic sets, 100+ cutscenes, 180,000+ words of in-game text, thousands of puzzles, and more all packed into 2 MB."

I for one can't wait, and I know one or two our readers surely feel the same...

Full Feature Set from the Protovision Website, where they seem to indicate that this had a prior life, including as "Enhanced Newcomer", with this version being "Ultimate Newcomer" (fingers crossed this gets a fully packaged release!):

Bill Loguidice's picture

Issue 45 of the Commodore Free magazine - October 2010, Now Available!

The latest issue of the excellent Commodore Free magazine is now available in the usual .PDF, .txt, .seq, .d64, and .html formats. Get your copy in the format of your choice here! (contents listed below)

Matt Barton's picture

Episode 4: Duke Nukem Forever, Active Gaming, Violence, special guest Shane R. Monroe, and more!

Shane R. MonroeShane R. MonroeThere's too much content in this episode to cram into a subject line! Clocking in at three hours, episode 4 features an exclusive interview with retrogaming radical Shane R. Monroe and the talents of Mark Vasier (back with a vengeance!), Christina Loguidice, Chris Kennedy, Rob Daviau, Matt Barton, and Bill Loguidice. We also announce and read the winner of our one paragraph videogame back story contest.

Download the episode here (128K format).

Segments and approximate times below:

  • Matt reads "Donkey Kong," the prize-winning short story by Craig A. Meyer (4:00)
  • Mark talks about his first look at Duke Nukem Forever (6:58)
  • Christina on active gaming (18:43)
  • Rob reminisces about the ups and downs of being an Amiga fanboy in Canada (28:17)
  • Chris reviews the recent Supreme Court case on videogame violence (52:40)
  • Matt interviews Shane R. Monroe (1:12:28)
  • Bill talks about a literally killer game, Sub Mission, complete with original cassette audio (2:18:52)
Bill Loguidice's picture

Issue 44 of the Commodore Free magazine - September 2010, Now Available!

The latest issue of the excellent Commodore Free magazine is now available in the usual .PDF, .txt, .seq, .d64, and .html formats. Get your copy in the format of your choice here! (contents listed below)

Bill Loguidice's picture

Issue 43 of the Commodore Free magazine - June 2010, Now Available!

The latest issue of the excellent Commodore Free magazine is now available in the usual .PDF, .txt, .seq, .d64, and .html formats. Get your copy in the format of your choice here! (contents listed below)

Bill Loguidice's picture

Multiple Classic Computer (MCC) Plays Commodore 64 and More

Multiple Classic Computer (MCC)Multiple Classic Computer (MCC) CloseupI received an interesting e-mail yesterday from the folks at Arcade Retro Gaming regarding their Multiple Classic Computer (MCC), which is an Altera Cyclone 3 FPGA in a tiny box, which essentially goes one step beyond traditional emulation with a full simulation of the Commodore 64 (C-64) hardware. Commodore Amiga support will be added soon. The device has full Micro SD support and has a plethora of connection options, including joystick, mouse, and keyboard. It also connects directly to your TV via a high quality s-video connection, which is perfect for classic platforms such as the C-64 and Amiga. Of course, being a programmable FPGA design, future support for additional systems should be trivial.

There are many more details, so I suggest you check out their Website. It sounds like our own Mark Vasier may be the first out of the gate to procure one, so we look forward to his impressions!

Bill Loguidice's picture

"Commodore USA" Accounces a PC in a Commodore 64-style Case

It looks like "Commodore USA" finally got a proper Commodore branding license, and this time it looks like they don't have to lie about it. In the Press Release quoted at the bottom of this blog post, the company talks about their bright idea of replicating the original Commodore 64 breadbox design and cramming PC components inside as one of their new offerings. Besides the fact that something like this would have serious usability and cosmetic issues, and considering the scam they tried to pull when they first formed, I wouldn't trust this company with a penny. With that said, if they were even half-way smart, they would forgoe this silly business with the case and strike another actual licensing deal and pre-load and pre-configure the deluxe versions of both C64 Forever and Amiga Forever, and throw in a good game controller, actually allowing all their systems to masquerade as proper "next gen" Commodores, rather than generic PCs with a Commodore sticker on it. Of course, that would be giving those guys a bit too much credit.

Press Release

Bill Loguidice's picture

The 2010.1 versions of Cloanto's Amiga Forever and C64 Forever available now!

Amiga Forever DesktopAmiga Forever DesktopCloanto has released the latest versions of their popular and easy-to-use Amiga Forever and C64 Forever emulators. This is great news for old and new fans of the greatest Commodore platforms, including all versions of the Amiga series (inclusive of the CDTV and CD32), and most of the 8-bit line, including PET, VIC 20, C-64/128, and C-16/Plus4. I hope to post full reviews of both of Cloanto's new releases soon.

The full press release details are below, along with all the links to the various packages available:
Amiga Forever and C64 Forever 2010.1 Released

Amiga Forever ( and C64 Forever ( are the easy to use emulation, preservation and support packages published by Cloanto, Commodore/Amiga developers since the 1980s. Beyond nostalgia, the packages make accessible to a wide audience a wealth of content and history that is engaging yet casual, and which can still teach a few lessons in gameplay.C64 Forever ScreenshotC64 Forever Screenshot

Features of the new 2010 versions include:

- Support for new emulated systems (CDTV, CD32, Amiga 600)
- Extended RetroPlatform Library (more than 20,000 titles) and content recognition code
- Support for Open RP9 format (packs multiple disk images and configuration in one file)
- CDTV/CD32 games run directly from original CD media, or from RP9 or ISO images
- Integrated printing via original Amiga EpsonQ drivers (via emulated printer)
- Optimizations for "power users" (content cache, performance, etc.)
- Hundreds of improvements to make the software more powerful and easier to use

Bill Loguidice's picture

Do you know what and when the first recognizable modern day personal computer with BASIC was?

Commodore PET 2001-8Based on a lively discussion over at AtariAge, I finally have what appears to be independent confirmation of what and when the first recognizable modern day personal computer with the BASIC programming language was. For purposes of definition, "first recognizable modern day personal computer" means a pre-assembled (non-kit) computer with a built-in display output (typically to a monitor early on and later to a TV) and full keyboard. The BASIC part means having some type of operating system with BASIC commands, preferably (though not required to be) in ROM. Now, we all know the holy trinity of 1977, the Apple II, Commodore PET and TRS-80, which were released (meaning not just announced, but actually available to buy and, more importantly, use) in that magical year, in that order, and each of which set the standard for all others to follow. Logic would dictate then that the first computer to fit our definition would be the Apple II. However, as the French would say au contraire mon frere. After some total misses were brought up, one computer in particular began to generate some legitimate consideration, the Processor Technology SOL-20 (SOL 20; NOTE: Though apparently far less popular, the reduced feature-set SOL 10 was also available). Unfortunately, there is a criminal lack of historical information related to both the company and the computer, so pinning down a release date for the pre-assembled version was difficult (as was customary for the time, kit versions were available--even the Apple II could be bought as a kit, though the Commodore PET and TRS-80 could not). While I've been able to briefly handle a fully operational SOL-20 in the past, due to its high cost on today's open market (easily north of $400 with often questionable functionality), I've been unable to acquire one, so my first-hand knowledge of the system is decidedly limited.

AtariAge user "desiv", was the first to find this article, which is a report from a gentleman who had a computer store at the time and pretty much pegged a general availability of 1976 for the SOL-20. Not satisfied with this single account (for one thing, there were a few mis-remembrances in there, like saying the SOL-20 was never sold as a kit), I decided to end the debate (if only primarily with myself) once and for all by checking my personal library's materials for another contemporary perspective. Luckily, I found one.

According to my copy of Owning Your Home Computer (The Complete Illustrated Guide) (1980) by Robert L. Perry, on page 49, "About the same time [mid-1975], Robert Marsh, a computer engineer, founded Processor Technology, which marketed the first computer complete with keyboard and video screen--SOL, the first personal computer deserving the name." and "Except for the first version of the Processor Technology personal computer, called SOL, there was no complete home computer at the beginning of 1977." Then he goes on to talk about the usual suspects, Commodore PET, Apple II, TRS-80, Exidy Sorcerer and Ohio Scientific Challenger, as being introduced that year (of course actual availability is a different issue).

He mentions another challenger a bit later, the Polymorphic 8800, which was introduced in 1976, which contained connections for a video monitor and a cassette recorder (as well as BASIC in ROM). Unfortunately, you had to add your own keyboard, which disqualifies it. He then talks a bit more about the SOL 20, "The first computer a hobbyist could simply turn on and use was the Processor Technology SOL 20. It had its own keyboard, an audio cassette interface, a complete video processor that used numbers and letters (in upper and lower case...), both kinds of input/output ports (serial and parallel), and an internal power supply. It had neither switches nor blinking lights on a complicated-looking front panel. It did have an internal operating system fixed in its memory, which allowed a user to simply plug it to a video monitor and use it. [description of an operating system] Yet the SOL, too, was too complicated for the average user. A buyer still had to know computer programming to use it." So, while BASIC was not in ROM (just a "simple" operating system was), it was apparently readily available on paper tape and cassette (see more info, here, here, and here (the latter of which points to BASIC availability no later than circa January 1977, still well before the Apple II's actual release)).

Perry then devotes some time to the second generation of kit computers, like the RCA Cosmac Elf II, and Heathkit H-8. Then, towards the end of page 54, he starts in with the TRS-80, leads into the PET, talks about the Apple I and II, the Ohio Scientific Challenger, the Compucolor 8001, and the Exidy Sorcerer (which he says, correctly, was introduced in the Spring of 1978).

On another note, he devotes Chapter 5 to "The Newest Home Computers", which, given sufficient publishing lead time for this 1980 book, would have placed most of these releases between 1978 - 1979, which falls in line with what we already know well (of course, some, like the Mattel Keyboard Component, were only ANNOUNCED at this time and would still be some time away). These systems include: Sinclair ZX80, APF Imagination Machine, Interact Model One, Mattel Intellivision (with Keyboard Component), TI-99/4 (not the 4A), Bally Professional Arcade, and HP-85.

On a final note, in Chapter 6, "The Handiest Home Computers", he discusses the TRS-80, Commodore PET, Apple II/III, Ohio Scientific Challenger series, Compucolor II, Exidy Sorcerer, and the Atari 400/800. Definitely a good book, and definitely an end to the "mystery". Nevertheless, if you want all of the usual qualifiers above and BASIC to reside in ROM, you're still looking at the Apple II, which was released in June 1977.

Any thoughts out there to the contrary?

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