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Design case history: the Commodore 64
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-07-02 20:30:34

We've been on a bit of a history trip lately with old computer articles and books, and this one from 1985 certainly fits right in.

In January 1981, a handful of semiconductor engineers at MOS Technology in West Chester, Pa., a subsidiary of Commodore International Ltd., began designing a graphics chip and sound chip to sell to whoever wanted to make "the world's best video game". In January 1982, a home computer incorporating those chips was introduced at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev. By using in-house integrated-circuit-fabrication facilities for prototyping, the engineers had cut design time for each chip to less than nine months, and they had designed and built five prototype computers for the show in less than five weeks. What surprised the rest of the home-computer industry the most, however, was the introductory price of the Commodore 64: $595 for a unit incorporating a keyboard, a central processor, the graphics and sound chips, and 64 kilobytes of memory instead of the 16 or 32 that were considered the norm.

A fully decked-out Commodore 64 with all the crucial peripherals - tape drive, disk drive, printer, joysticks, official monitor - is still very high on my wish list.

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