In the days before videogame consoles, home computers ruled the roost, and probably the most popular was the Commodore 64. Released in 1982, and somehow managing to stay on sale until 1994, it sold a massive 17 million units across the world! In the UK there were several home computers to choose from, but most kids allegiances would be to either the Commodore 64 or the ZX Spectrum, and whilst the Spectrum was more affordable, the Commodore 64 was technically more advanced.
The Commodore 64 could display 16 colours on screen and had a three channel sound synthesiser chip (named SID) which gave it some of the best audio capabilities of the time. It also had a proper sprung keyboard (unlike the Spectrum’s rubber keyed variety) and had two built in joystick ports.
Programs were stored on audio cassette tapes, and loaded using a dedicated tape player. The average game could take 10 minutes or more to load. You could also get a floppy disk drive, but to be honest it wasn’t an awful lot faster than cassette. It also cost the same price as the Commodore 64 itself, so it wasn’t as popular as tape. A third option was the games could also come on cartridges which plugged into a slot at the back of the computer. These were generally more expensive, and there weren’t very many of them either.
Most kids had convinced their parents that a home computer would be great to have because it would help them with their homework, and Dad could use it to do his accounts. The trick worked though, and many a happy hour was then spent playing games such as Uridium, Paradroid, International Soccer, The Last Ninja, World Games and countless others.
Fancy reliving some of the those happy hours? There are several emulators for the Commodore 64, and you can also download images of many classic games, with the added benefit of instant loading! One site with several useful links is The Videogame Archive. Be warned though, whilst you may have fond memories of these old games, don’t be surprised if they aren’t quite as good as you remember them!