Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 was a massively popular 8-bit computer from the early 1980s.

Just The Facts

  1. The Commodore 64 was kind of like the Dr. Pepper of the early 1980s home-computing craze.
  2. Which would make IBM/Microsoft into Coca Cola, and Apple into Pepsi. Or something.
  3. Except they still make Dr. Pepper. And didn't Apple literally get their CEO from Pepsi in the mid-1980s?
  4. We kinda suck at analogies.

Jack Tramiel, (Possibly) Sword-Wielding Holocaust Survivor.

One of these guys is Jack Tramiel. We lost track of which one.

The founder of Commodore International, Jack Tramiel, is such a badass it's surprising that Cracked hasn't written about him already. By the time he was 16, he had already spent 5 years in a Nazi labor camp, after being transferred from fucking Auschwitz (where he was felt up by no less than Joseph Mengele himself). Before he was 20 he had found his way to America, joining the US Army after marrying a fellow concentration camp survivor. The two are still alive and still together as of this writing. Seriously, why is there not a movie about these people?

In any case, he founded Commodore in 1952, and the company struggled in the typewriter, adding machine, and calculator field before finally entering the home computer market in the late 70s, where they struck gold. The Commodore 64 is still considered the widest selling computer model of all time.

After the Video Game Crash of 1983, Tramiel bought Atari and ran it for several years during the mid to late 1980s. Those years were filled with controversy regarding his management style, but rumor has it he wound up with a bitchin longsword out of the deal.

The Commodore 64 Itself (Or Blah Blah Blah SID CHIP).

Before we go any further, we might as well get it out of the way that the "64" in the name Commodore stood for kilobytes. As in, about half the size of the rough draft of this Topic Page in Microsoft Word format. That was how much RAM this computer boasted in 1982, and it was actually mind-blowing for it's time. It also ran at 1 mHz, with no commercial way to upgrade the speed.

Amazing stuff almost 30 years ago, but the rest of the field was quickly catching up. By the time the model was discontinued (in April 1994!) , contemporary computers were nearly 50x as fast and the graphics would have been considered laughable. But the C64 had one particular thing going for it that made it stand out, and makes it still popular today. That would be the SID 6581 Music Chip.

One of these guys.

Seriously, look it up on Youtube or Google. People still have some strong feelings about Commodore 64 music.

A combination of nostalgia and the signature peculiarities of the sound chip have led to artists as diverse as Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails and Timbaland using the chip in their compositions using a device called a SidStation, now considered a staple in modern recording studios.