• Judland's Commodore Blog

  • by judland

These are the ramblings of a happy Commodore computer user since 1983. I cover topics on both the C64 and C128, reviewing my favorite games and applications, as well as share some of my favorite memories from the 8-bit era. If you'd like to read more, you can visit my blog at: http://www.my64.in.nf

Oct
25

When the magazine was king

I didn't know many other computer users back then, let alone them being Commodore users. Most of the things I learned about my C64 came from experimentation - using the C64's user manual as my reference guide - or from Commodore computer magazines.

The following is a re-posting of my website's blog posting on Oct. 23rd, 2011:

We're very fortunate for having a resources like the Internet. In fact, I'm sure most of us take this technology for granted. I quite often reflect on the “golden age” of computing and remember how much fun and challenging it was to be a computer user back then.

I didn't know many other computer users back then, let alone them being Commodore users. Most of the things I learned about my C64 came from experimentation - using the C64's user manual as my reference guide - or from Commodore computer magazines.

There weren't any noteworthy books in the school or public libraries. If there were any books in the libraries, they were usually out-dated or just conceptual - nothing really practical from which I could learn.

There were a few reference books at the book store, but those cost money and (for the most part) didn't focus on the C64 itself. Besides, that money I put to better use, buying floppy disks and Commodore related magazines.

The magazines (like Run, Ahoy! Compute's Gazette, and LoadStar) were great because they kept up with the trends and new innovations that were happening in the world of micro-computers. But what I liked about them was that they always had some interesting programs I could type into my C64 and from which I could learn.

I could understand why some people would find typing in your own programs from the magazines a boring and tedious task. But, I used them as my own computer lessons. I not only typed the programs in to my C64 to play the games, but I also tried to understand what the code did and why it was necessary to the program.

Of course, it was the games and programs that used Commodore BASIC that were the ones from which I learned. Those that were in hexadecimal and used a line-checker were useless for me - for learning purposes - but were still enjoyable to play once the coding was done.

They were also a relatively cheap way for me to grow my collection of games and apps, as the magazines were only a couple bucks in price. If I'm remembering correctly, these magazine games also made up the bulk of the games I found on most of the BBSes in my neighbourhood.

Needless to say, to be a computer enthusiast during the “golden age” really was a labour of love (if you can call it that), as you really had to make an effort to learn what you did. And back then, the magazine was “king”.

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Responses

daytona400f 10/30/2011

I rarely got a chance to buy C64 magazines, but when I did, I'd type in every single program listed! Even the ones that seemed lame! :) It was awful! a step backwards from Punch-Cards. heh eventually, I adopted a new approach to make my c64 do neat things... I would physically copy BASIC programs onto paper (since I didn't have a printer) from programs that had a neat scroll bar, or cool sound effects or whatever.. Then, retype them back in. I still have page-after-page of hand written programs from the 80s to remind myself. and also because it took so long, I cant bear to throw them away!!

judland 10/31/2011

Wow, that sounds like a lot of work. But at least it served its purpose. People have to understand that we didn't have cut-n-paste back then, either. It's not like you could have highlighted a few lines of code, open up a new window (or program) and paste it in somewhere. We made due.

Goog 11/1/2011

I typed in many programs from RUN, Compute! and Compute!'s Gazette. I also had a first generation C64 with the original KERNAL ROM--you know, the one when you type in a long program and get to the very last cursor position... and realize you made a typo... so you backspace a couple of keys and BAM! Your computer hard-locks. I hit that one a few times.

But there's something to be said for type-in programs. There has been nothing quite like it since (not that I'm complaining).

BTW, I am loving your blog posts - thank you!

judland 11/1/2011

Hey, thanks, Goog. Glad someone is enjoying the posts. Sometimes I miss talking Commodore with folks, as most people I work with (in IT) are not from that era or had a computer in the '80s.

I never experienced the lock-up you're describing, but I can see that getting old really quick. Thanks for posting!