The Commodore 64 Turns 30

The Commodore 64 turns 30 this month! In January 1982, a state-of-the-art home computer made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show – the Commodore 64. The C64 housed less than a megabyte of memory, but boasted color graphics, perfect for little kids making their first journeys into computer gaming.

My twin sister and I were two such budding gamers. My father purchased the C64 to give himself a worthy chess opponent and teacher; after a lot of begging, my sister and I were allowed to have our turn as well.

We quickly learned how to navigate through the start-up screen and discovered the joys of computer gaming.

I remember loving games like Little Computer People, Archon, Mr. Robot and His Robot Factory — the list goes on and on. Although color graphics were newfangled technology at the time, our favorite games were the text-based adventure games Zork and Enchanter. Infocom was a pioneer of interactive fiction and these two games provided many hours of happiness as well as banging keys on the keyboard in frustration.

>go west
>You have been eaten by a grue.

Like GeekMom Sarah, I also have fond memories of playing Infocom’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on the Commodore 64. I never did get off the Heart of Gold, though. Luckily many Commodore 64 games, including some of Infocom’s classics, are available online through emulators as well as iPhone apps. (I recommend the Frotz app if you’re a fan of interactive fiction.) It’s been almost 30 years, but I may give Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy another go…

My sister and I also learned beginner computer programming with BASIC on the C64, and she’s now a programmer by profession. I eventually turned my gaming into a career. The Commodore 64 may have started as a simple home computer, but it ended up playing a significant role in our lives. Happy 30th Birthday, C64!

Kelly Knox is a freelance writer in Seattle, WA, where she contributes to local parenting magazines. She also writes for StarWars.com, Geek & Sundry, and more. You can find crafts and art projects for geeky families at her blog The St{art} Button.