Happy 25th birthday, C-64!

Seeing a “disk drive” is becoming a rarity these days. A generation is growing up right now having never used a 3.5″ disk. Prior to that was the 5.25″ disk which, despite being much larger, held less data. They were sold single or double-sided, but the “hacker elite” in my junior-high knew that you could save money buying the single-sided and use a hole punch to make them double-sided. I think the DMCA would make that a felony now… The C-64 was from a time when hard drives were a rarity, and people kept their data on boxes full of 5.25″ disks.

Further back than that, there were tape drives, or (as Commodore called them) datasettes. Using a standard audio cassette tape, you could use a datasette to store programs and data. Of course, unlike a disk drive, you couldn’t make the computer search for the program you wanted. You had to write down the number on the datasette’s odometer of approximately where your file was, and fast-forward to that spot (or, in actuality, a bit ahead of it because the odometer was not precise).

Ah, those were the crappy old days. In some ways, I owe my life to the C-64. It’s responsible for my interest in computers, which led me to my current career as well as my biggest pass-time: Linux. I think when I go home, I’ll see if there’s a C-64 emulator in the Ubuntu repository and install it. If only to appreciate the fact that I’m no longer using a datasette and a 300 baud modem. From 300 bps to 6,000,000 bps in 25 years. That’s pretty decent acceleration. Happy Birthday.

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