Of the computers produced and prototyped by Commodore, most people are likely well-acquainted with the PET, VIC-20, C64 and C128, as well as the never released Commodore 65. Of these systems many examples and plentiful of documentation exist, but probably among the most rare is the Commodore 900, as recently covered by [Neil] over at RMC – The Cave on YouTube. The Commodore 900, conceived in 1983, was intended to become a microcomputer based on the 16-bit Zilog Z8001 CPU that targeted businesses as a UNIX workstation.
Only fifty prototypes were ever built of the C900 and no hardware was ever sold, even though the intended UNIX-based OS (MWC’s Coherent) had already been ported to the Z8000 and the rumor mill suggested a release in 1984. Although UNIX workstations were rather popular during the 1980s — with HP and Sun featuring prominently in this market segment — Commodore was more known for its home computers, which probably played a major role in C900 development being cancelled. At the time Commodore was also in the process of acquiring Amiga, with the C900 perhaps unsurprisingly featuring similar design language as the Amiga 2000.
Perhaps ironically, the Z8000 CPU that features in the C900 had a bit of a tragic history as well. Although featuring a range of interesting features, such as the ability to use its registers as 8-, 16-, 32- or even 64-bit registers by combining them as needed. Although this and the general performance of the Z8000 made it a solid CPU, it could not compete against the Motorola 68000 and Intel 8086/8088 CPUs when those appeared on the market.
In the video, [Neil] takes us through a detailed history of the C900, its feature list and the hardware inside the C900 prototype he got his hands on. It’s a fascinating glimpse at a part of Commodore history where this company almost went toe to toe with Sun, HP and other workstation giants.
Continue reading “The Forgotten Commodore 900: A Look At A Rare Prototype”
Despite the huge strides in computing power and functionality that have been achieved in the past few decades, there are still some things that older computers can do which are basically impossible on modern machines. This doesn’t just include the ability to use older hardware that’s now obsolete, either, although that is certainly a perk. In this two-part restoration of an Amiga 500, [Jeremy] shows us some of these features like the ability to directly modify the audio capabilities of this retro machine.
The restoration starts by fixing some damage and cleaning up the rest of the machine so it could be powered up for the first time in 30 years. Since it was in fairly good shape he then started on the fun part, which was working with this computer’s audio capabilities. It includes a number of amplifiers and filters in hardware that can be switched on or off, so he rebuilt these with new op-amps and added some new controls so that while he is using his MIDI software he can easily change how it sounds. He also restored the floppy disk drives and cleaned up the yellowing on the plastic parts to improve the overall appearance, as well as some other general improvements.
These old Amigas have a lot going for them, but since [Jeremy] is a musician he mostly focused on bringing back some of the musical functionality of his childhood computer, although he did build up a lot of extra features in this machine as well. These types of audio circuits are not something found in modern computers, though, so to get a similar sound without using original hardware you’ll need to build something like this NES audio processing unit programmed in Verilog.
Continue reading “How To Restore A Musical Amiga”
My first love was a black wedge. It was 1982, and I had saved up to buy a Sinclair ZX81. That little computer remains the only one of the huge number that I have owned over the years about which I can truly say that I understood its workings completely; while I know how the i7 laptop on which this is being written works I can only say so in a loose way as it is an immensely complex device.
Computing allegiance is fickle, and while I never lost an affection for the little Sinclair I would meet my true electronic soulmate around eight years later as an electronic engineering student. It no longer graces my bench, but this was the computer against which all subsequent machines I have owned would be measured, the one which I wish had not been taken from me before its time, and with which I wish I could have grown old together. That machine was a Commodore Amiga, and this is part love letter, part wistful musing about what could have been, and part rant about what went wrong for the best desktop computer platform ever made. Continue reading “A Love Letter To My Lost Amiga”
When you think of a luggable computer, you might think of the old Compaq or — if you are old enough — a Kaypro. But you don’t see as many Commodore SX-64 computers. [The 8-Bit Guy] has wanted one for a while and finally got one, but it wasn’t working. No problem! Just fix it!
The device actually looks sleek compared to some other portables of the era and had a color screen, but — probably due to the price — they didn’t sell very well. The outside of the device looked pretty clean other than some loose screws and clips. The space key was quite yellow but at least there was a keyboard cable which is nearly impossible to find anymore.
Continue reading “Portable Commodore 64 Lives!”
The Commodore 64 was a revolutionary computer for its day and age. After four decades, though, it gets harder and harder to use these computers for anything more than educational or hobby electronics projects. [Gregory Nacu] is fiercly determined to challenge this idea, though, and has gone to great extremes to make this hardware still relevant in the modern age by writing a completely new operating system for the Commodore machines.
Known as C64OS, it squeezes everything it can out of the 8 bit processor and 64 kB of memory. The new OS includes switchable desktop workspaces, a windowing system, draggable icons, a Mac-style menu bar at the top, and drop-down menus for the icons (known as aliases in the demonstrations). The filesystem is largely revamped as well and enables a more modern directory system to be used. There are still some limitations like a screen resolution of 320×200 pixels and a fixed color palette which only allows for a handful of colors, but this OS might give Windows 3.1 a run for its money.
The project is still being actively developed but it has come a long way into a fairly usable state. It can be run on original hardware as well as long as you have a method of getting the image to the antique machine somehow. If not, the OS can likely run on any number of C64 emulators we’ve featured in the past.
Thanks to [Stephen] for the tip!
Continue reading “New OS For Commodore 64 Adds Modern Features”
The C64 may be the best-selling computer of all time, but Commodore made several machines before that, too. [Mjnurney] always loved the Commodore PET, and set about building some new machines in the PET’s unique all-in-one form factor.
The case design started with measurements taken from an original Commodore PET, of which [Mjnurney] has three. Then, it was modified and extended to make room for a proper keyboard. The case also mounts a 14″ IPS display, two 15W speakers, and a gas strut enabling the case to be propped open for easy maintenance. It’s actually made out of real sheet metal, too!
The primary version mounts an Amiga 500 inside, including its classic keyboard. However, [Mjnurney] has developed a PC version, too. Both look great, and it’s wild to see Netflix displayed on a machine that looks more at home in 1977. Perhaps most of all, though, we love the dual floppy drives just below the screen.
Throwback cases pay tribute to some of our favorite machines. The tiny ones are perhaps the cutest of all.
Continue reading “Hackaday Prize 2022: A Functional Commodore PET Tribute”
The Commodore 64 is a much-loved 8-bit retro computer that first appeared in 1982 and finally faded away around a decade later. The Commodore company started by [Jack Tramiel] went on to make the Amiga, and eventually ceased trading some time in the late 1990s. All history, now kept alive only by enthusiasts, right? Well, not quite, as the C64 has been the subject of a number of revivals both miniature and full-sized over the years. The latest came in the form of a Kickstarter for the C64x, a seemingly legitimately-branded Commodore 64-shaped PC, but it seems that has now been paused due to a complaint from an Italian company claiming to be the real heirs of Commodore. So will the real Commodore please stand up?
The origin of the Kickstarter C64x breadbin C64 PC is well enough documented, having its roots in a legitimate 2010 offering for which the person behind the C64x appears to have gained the rights. The Italian company is also called Commodore and uses the familiar branding from the glory days to sell some Commodore-themed games, novelties, and a tablet computer, but its website is a little tight-lipped about how it came by the use of that IP. Could it have come upon those rights through the 1990s German owner of the brand, Escom? We’d be fascinated to know.
Continue reading “Will The Real Commodore Please Stand Up?”