Little Emulators Do 8 Bits At A Time

Have you ever wondered how many, for example, Commodore 64s it would take to equal the processing power in your current PC? This site might not really answer that, but it does show that your machine can easily duplicate all the old 8-bit computers from Commodore, Sinclair, Acorn, and others. By our count, there are 86 emulators on the page, although many of those are a host machine running a particular application such as Forth or Digger.

If you are in the US, you might not recognize all the references to the KC85, this was an East German computer based on a Z80 clone. Very few of these were apparently available for personal purchase, but they were very popular in schools and industry. These were made by Robotron, and there are some other Robotron models on the page, too.

If you aren’t interested in period games, there is still Forth, Basic, and even assembler for several of the machines. The emulation isn’t very snappy but probably is still faster than the real things. If you get stuck, it might pay to know that the Esc key is mapped to the break key.

Speaking of keyboards, the KC85 was notorious for having a very cheaply made “chiclet” keyboard. So using one with your full PC mechanical gaming keyboard feels like cheating. Of course, you don’t need a full PC to emulate an old computer. We’ve even seen the Commodore and the PC XT emulated on the ubiquitous ESP8266.

9 thoughts on “Little Emulators Do 8 Bits At A Time

    1. I dunno about that particular page, but there’s been CPC emulators for the PC since the 1990s, that definitely run at full speed with very detailed emulation of all the little quirks. Just give it a search for “Amstrad CPC emulator” or the like and you’ll find sites with emulators and almost every bit of software ever released.

      I don’t really understand this article, is it “emulators for old computers exist” ? Cos that’s not really news this century.

      If you’re curious about emulating your old computers, don’t let this somewhat odd web page put you off, emulation is huge! The home computer geeks are great people, and very dedicated. There’s even devices been developed in the present day, to plug into your old computer if you still have it. Stuff like an SD card adaptor for your Spectrum / Commodore / etc, where it appears to the machine like a disk drive or tape. And all sorts of other bonkersness. Ethernet adaptors, broadband!

    1. Turing’s Law, mate. An FPGA can be equally good. But first that requires someone to actually write the code. And FPGAs aren’t cheap, presumably you’re already sat in front of a computer. There’s emulators for almost any computer you could imagine.

  1. Regarding “chiclet” keyboards, did anybody notice how laptops and keyboards become less and less ergonimic. And with “keys” that look less and less like the traditional keyboard “keys”. Just some rectangular blocks with a letter. No curves, nothing to make a key look like a key… in other words… modern electronics (especially the expensive brands) tend to go to towards the “chiclet” style. Within a few years the “keys” of these keyboards will have evolved to a size so small that they will actually resemble the cheap 80’s chiclet keyboards…


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