Sleep 13: Commodores Port

14 June, 2021


Riddle me this, what’s the latest in Commodore PC news? Look no further than the Commodores Port column. A regular column article from the April 1983 edition of the Creative Computing Magazine.

Transcript available
[Music] Helping you fall asleep. I'm John Chidjie. You can follow me on the Fediverse at, on Twitter @johnchidjie, or the network at engineered_net. Sleep is supported by you, our listeners. If you'd like to support the show, you can do so via Patreon, with a thank you to all of our patrons, and a special thank you to our Patreon silver producers, Mitch Bilger, John Whitlow, Kevin Koch, Oliver Steele, Lesley, Law Chan, Hafthor, and Shane O'Neill. And an extra special thank you to both of our gold producers, Chip Sulzenberg, and our producer, known as R. Visit to learn how you can help. Thank you. So now that that's out of the way, let me talk to you. Just for a few minutes. Creative Computing, 1983, Volume 4. Commodore's Port. You may have noticed the new look of our Commodore column this month. Well, Commodore itself has a new look, so its column should also have a new look. And a new thrust as well. Don't despair, pet owners. Much of the material that will appear in Commodore's port will pertain to all Commodore systems, so don't feel left out. If you are a VIC-20 or Commodore 64 owner, rejoice, and look forward to increased support for your machines in the pages of Creative Computing. Riddle me this. I have a riddle for you. Here's a hint. George Washington never slept in Sunnyvale. Question. What do Silicon Valley California and Valley Forge have in common? Right, both are hubs of microcomputer manufacturing in this country. I recently visited Commodore in Wayne to take a look around and talk about that company's plans for the future. According to Neil Harris in 1980, 10,000 VIC-20 units were sold nationwide. Towards the end of 1982, Commodore was manufacturing 10,000 VIC-20 units per day. And the new machine, the 64, is backordered. In the tens of thousands of units. Commodore is taking some aggressive steps to meet this demand. I toured their new plant in Westchester, which has over 13 acres of space. Commodore is planning extensive product line expansion in the near future, with more than 600,000 square feet, the Westchester plant will not be outgrown for at least a little while. This year will mark a significant milestone for Commodore, and they are quite proud of it. The capabilities of their latest machine, the Commodore 64, seem to bear out the company's most ambitious hopes for the future. The 64 is truly an impressive machine. I have seen demo programs that come very close to cartoon-quality animation, straightforwardly written in BASIC without any resort to esoteric machine code. That kind of potential warms my heart. If someone like me can get his hands on the animation and sound abilities of the 64 from BASIC and obtain dramatic results than anybody can. One exciting promise from Commodore for 1983 is a piano keyboard peripheral for the 64. This will allow for real-time programming of the sophisticated SID sound chip using a very friendly input device. You must hear this chip to believe it. It sounds as good as many a dedicated music synthesizer. Together with the graphics magic of the machine, the SID chip shows a great deal of promise. I have not been as excited about a microcomputer since the Atari machine was introduced. The disk drive rediscovered. Rarely, but much more often than I'd like, I hear criticisms along the following lines. news we read in the pages of creative computing is all too rosy. How could it be that nearly every product we evaluate is so remarkable, useful, and/or enjoyable? People who voice this accusation have formed the opinion that we must be in cahoots with manufacturers printing only good things about their products in return for their advertising. I laugh when I hear this kind of stuff. Only because it is so far from the truth. Okay, most of the evaluations you see in the magazine are favourable. This is because we opt to give first coverage to products that truly deserve coverage. Not to say that the products we have not reviewed are uniformly disappointing, nor that all products we do cover are terrific. As a good example, in the latter category, pick up a copy of the "Creative Computing 1983 Buyer's Guide", and evaluate the objectivity of the utter lambasting I dealt to the Commodore VIC-1540 disk drive. This was a product I felt was of great importance, and to my horror, I discovered, was quite a disappointment. Anybody who says we pull punches ought to take a close look at that piece, and then reappraise his outlook. Now, while we are here on the topic of reappraising outlooks, I have some very good news to relate concerning the new VIC 1541 drive. Its makers have made a very successful attempt to redress the grievances I levelled at the 1540, and this pleases me to no end. One of my strong objections concerned the manual which easily qualified for "the worst documentation of the year" award. Well, I am sincerely happy to report that the documentation has been entirely rewritten and is now suitable for reading by human beings. In fact, it has gone from one extreme to the other. It now stands as an example of how a manual can impart all needed information in a friendly, organized, and easily understood manner. Transposition of Is with Ones and Os with Zeros is now a thing of the past, while integral commas, missing in the earlier incarnation of the manual, have made a belated appearance. Even more important, dos wedges for the Vic and 64 are now included with every Vic 1541, providing a gamut of commands at your fingertips. Thus, tedious and cryptic coding of commands through BASIC is eliminated. This was the central criticism I made of the 1540 unit. As a peripheral designed to service the VIC-20 with its excellent reputation as a learning machine, the new drive now lives up to the aspirations of the computer for which it was designed, as well as the dramatic promise of the Model 64. The 1541 is the replacement drive for both machines and the 1540 has already been phased out. Owners of 1540 units can purchase easy to install upgrade ROMs to transform their machines into mechanical equivalents of the 1541. I had very little trouble transferring VIC files to the 64 and vice versa, Though there are some differences in the way each machine handles the drive, these are easily surmounted. Baby driver reborn. For owners of the 1540 who have not yet acquired the ROM upgrade or DOS wedge programs, we have reproduced here an improved menu program, similar to the one we printed in the original 1540 piece. The idea of the program is to dispose of cryptic command codes wherever possible in favour of a menu based mini DOS. It is much less powerful than the Commodore DOS Wedge and is written in basic as opposed to machine language. But its utility cannot be discounted. It will certainly help you until you obtain the hardware and software upgrade. I said in the Buyer's Guide that a few ROMs from now working with a 1540 disk drive will probably be Child's Play, I was wrong on this score. True user-friendliness was only a single ROM away. [BLANK_AUDIO]
Duration 9 minutes and 10 seconds Direct Download

Show Notes

Reading Material:

Other shows on the network:

Episode Gold Producers: 'r' and Chip Salzenberg.
Episode Silver Producers: Mitch Biegler, John Whitlow, Kevin Koch, Oliver Steele, Lesley Law Chan, Hafthor and Shane O'Neill.
Premium supporters have access to ad-free, early released episodes with a full back-catalogues of previous episodes


John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.