Commodore 64 is the Machine of Legend
s, the Machine of Myth
True, it has only 64 kb of memory (most of which hid under the ROM banks and was generally inaccessible from BASIC (Commodore BASIC was one of the first shoddy Microsoft products I've used, BTW =) and the MOS 6510 CPU speed was 0.97 megahertz, but... it... has... magic.
Actually, C64's video chip, VIC II, was designed for game computer, while the rest of the machine was designed also with more serious use in mind. So, the greatest drawback of C64's acceptance as truly ruling work computer was that it could only get 40 characters per line (and the modern kluges used in C64 terminal programs such as Novaterm and C=-lehti's Therm can easily be described as "80 blurry pixel blobs per line").
C64's multimedia capabilities were undescribable - and for most part, they still are. C64's sound chip, the SID, become a legendary cheap analog synthetizer that had an unique, distinct and addictive sound. (cynics would call them just bleeps, but they've obviously been coding music on that MS BASIC - remember, Real Programmers code in hex, and less real will use a macro cross-assembler on PC, such as xa65 that runs in UNIX too =)
It has often been said that Commodore 64 has computational power roughly equivalent to a 386SX with VGA and 16 megs of memory. Oh, yeah, the 8088 used in IBM PC ticked at over 4 megaherz - and can you make a five-layer parallax scroller with that machine, may I ask? I bet you can't.
And if you want to upgrade to Pentium class, there's always SuperCPU... =)
Modern scene: Amazing stuff
Needless to say, these days C64 fanatics crank out stuff that often still leaves PC stuff in shadow. In many years, the most jaw-dropping part of the Assembly convention has been the C64 demo part. I mean, in 1980s people said C64 needs a whole day to calculate Mandelbrot set; In 1997 we saw a realtime Mandelbrot zoomer (low-rez and one-frame-calc-only, but nevertheless, a realtime zoomer it was!)
Oh, there's also Lunix and related projects to bring UNIX-like environment to Commodore 64. Yes, there's an UNIX variant (GeckOS) for C64 that runs httpd! When will we see Apache 64, and no, I don't mean Apache for Nintendo 64, I mean something more challenging. =)
According to BogoMIPS Mini-HOWTO, C64 has got 0.0033 BogoMIPS rating. (This value was measured under VICE, and either way it's fairly debatable, because Lunix shows rate of 0.37 BogoMIPS, at least in the screenshots! Certainly higher than 0.004 BogoMIPS of TRS-80...)
It might be worth noting that uIP TCP/IP stack for C64 was surprisingly resistant: At one point, a link to a C64 serving as a web server was posted to Slashdot and the bloody thing kept kickin' and returning static pages even at peak of the slashdotting! One of the pepperiest 8-bit web servers so far, really!
What about me?
(Obligatory "some original content" =)
Personally, I have one C64 C model (the new model that looked a bit like Amiga) and one C64 G model (chassis shaped like the old "classic" model, but has the C model's creamy color, and it of course has the new model's motherboard).
Sad states today, too...
Sad note: When I speak of "kuusnelonen", I refer to C64. These youngsters use the same word for Nintendo 64. Dammit, I don't need 64 bits, I want 64 kilobytes...
Some kid asked the Super Power magazine once, "Which is better, C64 or N64?" and the magazine editors replied, "VIC-20". True, VIC-20 has a slightly higher clock frequency but... hm...
Actually, Nintendo 64 and Commodore 64 do have one thing in common: Both have a RISC processor. =)
(Random factoid: Another common Finnish piece of jargon was "kuuslankku"; see kuusi for more information on this. =)