C64 Nostalgia

July 3rd, 2007

The first real computer1 I ever used was a Commodore 64. I think it was 1984, so we were pretty much on the cutting edge. Things have moved on a lot now: my current computer has 32,000 times more RAM, and the processor is about 2000 times faster. But in a lot of ways it was the best computer I ever used.

The two main things I remember are games and “programming”. I say “programming” because all it really was is typing in listings from computer magazines. Most of them consisted of about 20 lines of human readable stuff, and then hundreds and hundreds of lines of numbers. But at the end of that you had some neat program to play with.

But the real thing about the C64 was the games. I’ve been playing with a few of them recently (thanks to a helpful emulator), and it’s really bought back to me how strong they were. These days games cost millions of dollars to develop, often involve Hollywood stars, and absolutely positively have to make money. Back in the 1980s you could just make something nice and weird. (See Jeff Minter‘s strange fascination with Llamas) and not have to worry too much about selling a lot of copies.

But it’s not just the budgets that have changed. I realised that I play games quite differently now. Back then I’d be playing 10 games at once, jumping between them in the flash of an attention span. These days I tend to play just one game for weeks, even months on end. I think that’s mainly because the games have gotten bigger, and the spare time a little rarer, but the result is that I feel quite differently about picking up a game now. I don’t want to spend too much time on some little quirky game, because I’d rather add some huge behemoth (Civilization IV, I’m looking at you) to my play list and enjoy it.

But it’s still nice to fire up the emulator and while away an afternoon jumping from game to game from time to time.


  1. The first computer at all was the Sinclair ZX81, a powerhouse with not enough memory storage to include all of this post…