The Commodore Story (2018) Movie Script

My name is Steven Fletcher and Im a documentary
film maker but most of my working life Ive
been a computer programmer
For me the love affair of the computer started
at the age of 14 when I got my first computer
the VIC-20 closely followed by the Commodore
64 and then of course the Amiga
Now 35 years later I want to take you on a
journey back to the birth of the home computer
by following the Commodore story discovering
the origins and what lead up to the Commodore
64 being the best ever selling computer in history
Its remarkable that in my lifetime technology
has advanced so much from computers once the
size of a room to mobile phones that fit in
your pocket
You dont have to go back too many years
and computers just didnt exist but now
we find computers filling every aspect of
our lives
We will be travelling around Europe and across
America interviewing many legends from Commodore
and Amiga
A half a million dollars
March 7th 1984
You invented something that changed my life
And theres a bunch of Z8000 programmers
you know looking like I just shot a sheep or something
On the other side rather than panicking because
your ball grid array or something was inverted
and theres nothing you can do about it
A meeting with Jack Tramiel was often called
a Jack attack
Do you ever get a jump where its ten times
better these days no
Welcome to R J Micals house of construction
We will also be attending Commodore and Amiga
events plus retro shows to see how alive the
Commodore and Amiga scene is in todays
modern world
[plane noise]
Just arriving in San Francisco
Were going to be doing the Commodore Story documentary
and the first thing we see is from a museum and its all about the typewriter
and potentially the first chapter;
the first part of the documentary we are going
to call The Typewriter Man because its
all about Jack Tramiel and where he came from
And here we are
My names Leonard Tramiel and I was involved in the personal computer industry for quite sometime
I was on the team that developed the Commodore PE and then actually went off to graduate
school and didnt have any direct involvement
in the VIC-20 or Commodore 64
Had some indirect work with some of the engineers
and marketing folk and of course with my dad
The way Commodore got into the computer business
was completely by accident
So lets lets take a couple of historical
steps back
My father when he left the US army had a some had some experience repairing typewriters; he was trained
to do that in the army and one of his first
jobs after leaving was he got the contract
to continue doing the typewriter repair for
the army base
And his business went from repairing typewriters
to importing and selling typewriters and then
from typewriters into other office equipment
like adding machines and then from adding
machines to electronic calculators
This is where Commodore started; Jack Tramiel made these things and made his money with it
Interesting story about this piece of equipment,
everybody knows that jack Tramiel didnt
have really a lot of interest in the computer
business; he wanted to sell calculators like
this one
And a lot of people will recognise this specific
chiclet keyboard
And it was Chuck Peddle who engineered the
first computer for Commodore but because real
keyboards were really expensive at the time
Jack Tramiel designed it as this keyboard
should be used
Virtually every calculator was designed around
a calculator chip produced by Texas Instruments
and our friends at TI decided that they wanted
to get into the calculator business so they
produced calculators and sold them for roughly
the cost that they were selling the calculator
chip for, which drove everybody out of business
My father said; so he told this story a couple
of times; he said that in his in his mind
his reaction was well they can die but
Im not going to die that easily
Being a holocaust survivor survival was an
important thing for him
So he found a calculator chip company or a
company that made calculator chips and it
turned out they were not doing all that well
financially and bought them
And one of the projects that this company
was involved in was a little thing that he
knew nothing about called the microprocessor
the MOS technology 6502, which was probably
the most used microprocessor of all time
All the Commodore machines in that series,
the PET, the VIC-20 and Commodore 64, all
of those, all of the Apple 8-bit machines,
all of the Atari 8-bit machines, including
the Atari video entertainment system and the
Nintendo machine all use that same chip, which
is really quite amazing
How do you make it work?
Youve got to have some programming going
along with it; needs to have some memory;
needs to have some I/O so Chuck designed the
KIM which Keyboard Interface Module if I remember
And it had a 16-button keyboard that allowed
you to enter commands, program the thing in
in Assembly language, or actually in binary
in hexadecimal code
Lots of fun because thats the way all programming
should be done
And that was the first personal computer I
ever used, I had a KIM in my bedroom
MOS Technology was in in Norristown and Id
actually visited MOS Technology when I was
in high school and met Chuck Peddle and bought
a KIM 1 directly from the factory so Commodore,
since they owned MOS technology, I figured
that was a you know be a perfect fit for me
So when Neil gave me a call I applied and
got a job with the VIC-20 team, headed by
Michael Tomczyk
Chuck had designed the chip as a first step
in a process where he wanted to make; and
this is going to sound pretty funny, he wanted
to make household robots a thing
So the first thing he needed was a really
inexpensive microprocessor and he met with
my dad and said Im going to make this
computer, if you want Commodore to make this
computer Ill work for you and Commodore
will make this computer
Dad said, Ok, let me think about it
and he came home and spoke to me and said,
I have no idea what hes talking about
Come meet this guy, talk to him about it
and tell me what you think
So this you know punk kid at twenty goes to
meet the designer of what is probably one
of most influential pieces of technology ever;
Chuck Peddle the designer of the 6502
And Chuck and I sit down in a booth at an
embedded computer system fair and they had
as an example of a marvellous thing that you
can build with this; a pinball machine
And Chuck and I sit down to talk about computers
and we spent most of the time talking about
science fiction
A science fiction story by Robert Heinlein
called The Door Into Summer; which is
all about a world full of personal computers
and Chuck wanted to live in that world
So if no one else was going to make that world
he was going to build it and the first step
was the PE So after the meeting talked to dad and I said,
this guy knows what hes talking about
and Commodore went into the computer business
I joined Commodore in 1981 in the United Kingdom
despite this American accent
My first computer was the Commodore VIC-20
I was six years old when I got that
I managed to augment my meagre savings and
we went out and bought a second hand Commodore
64 for my birthday
I got my first computer, home computer, which
was the Commodore 64
My first computer started with the Commodore
I remember Christmas morning 1988; I think
it was
I unwrapped a Commodore Plus/4
For me my brand spanking new Commodore 64
computer, eager to go downstairs and play
on it in the lounge, unfortunately being Christmas
Day there was a James Bond film on in the
afternoon and because we were a one TV family
I had to wait until that had that had finished
We are here in Atlanta, Georgia and my first
computer was the Commodore 64
Ive wrote a lot of music on the C64 back
in the 80s
I had a real synthesizer sound chip, the SID
I was like beside myself
I had to have one
Im from that little window of people that
worked for Jack Tramiel and then worked there
after Jack Tramiel left so I call this a Commodore
Greek tragedy in three acts and Im from
act two, right in the middle of it
Jacks past was known in the company but
not in great detail at least not generally
People knew hed been through a tough time
in Germany
Got his start in Toronto and so on but it
wasnt a topic of general conversation
His experiences in the Second World War were
rather horrific
So he he often told the story of, I guess
it was September 1st 1939 when the Germans
invaded Poland
He remembers seeing these squadrons of airplanes
flying over, he thought that was really cool
and he you know went outside and saluted it
He didnt think all that highly of them
after they after they came into town
Lodz was very close to the border in fact
so close that they wound up annexing that
part of Poland into Germany
All the Jews were rounded up and sent to live
in one particular section of the city called
the Ghetto conveniently not too far from the
Jewish cemetery and they were basically slave
I dont actually remember what dad did during
the ghetto years but it would have been you
know odd jobs and manual labour of some sort
because he was pretty young
And then the the Lodz ghetto was one of the
last if not the last ghetto in Poland to be
liquidated and sent have all its; well
call them inhabitants sent to Birkenau, a
huge camp part of the Auschwitz complex where
people were sorted out into those who could
work and those that couldnt and those that
couldnt were rapidly dispatched
He wound up going with his dad to a work camp
named Ahlem just outside of Hannover
And its funny he he said that he remembers
trying to never talk about this as we were
growing up so as far as he was concerned he
never mentioned it
As far as us kids were concerned they talked
about it all the damn time because; and theres
nothing inconsistent about that because theres
theres not a lot of story of that level
that a kid can tolerate and compared to what
was bubbling in his mind Im sure he said
Very emotional, really hard to get through
but at the end of the war he was deathly ill,
too weak to move
So as the Americans were advancing into Germany,
the Germans said OK theyre coming in,
theyre going to kill everyone so if you
want to live come with us
And everyone that could move got up and left,
went with the Germans
and when they were out of town they were all shot
And the so dad told the story that he remembers;
and its almost certainly not true but he
remembers this black American soldier, who
he thought was about seven and a half feet tall
came in and you know just you know busted
busted down the door, looked around to see
what was going on and quickly got everything
People in the in that squadron said there
were no blacks
Memory is a funny thing
And very quickly you know medical attention
was given, the people were taken care of
They wound up, there were a large number of
what were called DPs, or displaced persons
camps where people were rejuvenated and and
allowed to heal and come back to some semblance
of their humanity
And my father decided; my parents were married
by this point decided he wanted to come to
the US
So the guy asked him how old are you?
to which my father responded how old do
I need to be? and he said eighteen
he said, good Im eighteen He was
So you may find an interesting one-year discrepancy
in the year of my fathers birth whether
its 1927 or 1928
On all those papers his birth date was 1927
because that made him eighteen at the time,
in fact he was born in 1928
So he arranged to come to the US, joined the
US army
My mother came to the US
Worked in the army mostly because he wanted
to learn about the country, learn about the
people and wanted to learn English
You mentioned Ahlem?
A soldier from Sioux Falls, Iowa; if I remember
correctly, by the name of Vernon Tott took
pictures of the camp that day
A survivor, who lived across the bay in Oakland,
when he retired said you know Im going
to find these guys and from memory drew
the patch that he remembered on their shoulder
and sent it off to the Pentagon and said what
group is this?
He found out, sent a letter to the that squadron
and said does anyone have any memories, any
recollection about this?
And Vernon read the the newsletter from his
squadron and said, You know I think I still
have those pictures
So theres a documentary called the Angel
of Ahlem about that which is pretty amazing
Yeah we we met Vernon in Germany
I did, my parents had met of course before
but there was a ceremony for; I think it was
the, lets see, would have been the 60th anniversary
of the clearing of the Warsaw, of the Lodz
Ghetto and Vernon was in the process of dying
of cancer but he came to Germany and participated
with us in this
Really quite moving
Lets focus on business is war
Right dont you want to speak about
Maybe later
My father, for him, business was his life
On the other hand it was very important for
him that family be supported and be involved
in, he was he was quite keen on the idea of
his sons working for him
And I went to see him and I walked into his
office and Jack was this short, rotund, bald,
swarthy, sort of had large, protruding eyes
and a deep booming voice that actually make
the walls vibrate it was so baritone and he
was very intimidating
I dont know of many other people that could
run things quite the way he did
The most surprising thing when you look at
the way companies are structured between the
lowest level person and the top theres
two or three levels and thats it and no
ones that far away and and this wound up
with an enormous number of people that reported
directly to my father
He hired me and he said but your job will
not be to assist me, your job will be to follow
me around and learn the religion
Jacks philosophy of business, he called
it the religion
There are lots of ways to run a business and
if you are going to run a business where the
CEO is this warm, gentle, encouraging, mentoring
person who leads people through a path of
internal and emotional development while they
generate a wonderful life-changing product
And Im sure there are companies that do
very well under that model, that wouldnt
work with my dad as CEO
In my personal job was not to tell them how
good they are but to tell them what they are
doing wrong so they can improve
We live today in a different world
Its such a good job my God
I went to the CES show, Jack Tramiel was on
the stand, he was barking orders to everybody,
was quite aggressive
I had about thirty seconds with him, I just
said hello Im Dave from the UK he
shook my hand and then dismissed me with his eyes
My father was put in touch with a financier
in Toronto by the name of Irving Gould who
I think at that time got twenty percent of
the company
Very bluntly asked him one day
I said Irving I know youre a wealthy
man, obviously you invested heavily into Commodore
and other companies
Would you mind telling me how you made your
And I thought he was just going to throw me
out but he didnt, he said yes Ill tell you
And Ill tell you exactly the words he used
He said, David I took the best piss of
my life
And Im just just stood at the urinal
and a young man came in and the young man
is going so well these guys have invented
a system of twenty foot and forty foot containers
that can get picked up and carried on lorries
and they can get put onto special container
ships, cargo ships
And he said and I just brought to my company
to the table the opportunity to have the rights
for North America for the containers and theyve
just turned it down and Irving just said
youve just found your man
Commodore programmers put together a game
called Jack attack and they named it
after Jack
You know at Commodore we have something thats
sort of urban legend and yet has its basis
in truth and its called a Jack attack
And Jack attacks can actually occur
one on one, right
Where you you might say, I just cant
work this way you know
Youd be the president of Commodore and
say I cant work this way and Jack
would say, Well then dont
That meant youre fired youre just out
We lost an entire office one time because
they wanted royalties
I went to lunch, came back, I looked at the
twelve offices and they were all empty
I went up to the receptionist and I said,
Wheres the marketing department?
And shes looking shes looking down and
writing on a yellow notepad and I and she
said oh theyre gone, Jack came and fired
them just before lunch
The Jack attack
Ive know idea where the term came from
The term the first time I heard it was long
after Commodore ceased to be but as as I said
when my father was displeased he made
made no secret of it
There were I remember as early as the times
I was working in the warehouse that I would
be you know in the warehouse you know moving
pallets around and I could hear dad
yelling in his office
And I knew someone was, someone had not done
exactly what he wanted
Jack was thought of as being ruthless sometimes
because he held you to your word
A young engineering manager once promised
to deliver something to him and he wanted
six months to do it
So he built up a staff of thirty people and
he started working on it
Six months later to the day Jack showed up
and said, Is it done?
The engineer said, no, we had some complications,
we wont have it done for another six months
Jack fired everybody and closed down the operation
Later that afternoon I was in Jacks office
when one of the engineers came in, storming
He was in his twenties
And he said I been here for five years,
Im not leaving, I helped build this company,
Im going to sit in the hallway if I have
to Im not being fired
And Jack said, fine, go find yourself another job
And you know what if the twenty-nine other
people in that group were smart enough to
come and do that they would still have their jobs
If he thought you were giving him nonsense
he would let you know at usually fairly high
volume levels
So along with percussion on the nearest horizontal
So and and when he was displeased it was it
was obvious
If you were emotionally resilient enough to
handle that and to realize that the that the
criticism what not criticism of you as a person
but criticism of the job you had done and
could grow and learn from it then you wind
up with a group of people that will work very
well under those circumstances
My best Jack story happened in Germany
I had one of the Mercedes for the show and
my job was to chauffeur Jack and Sig around
Theyd spend a lot of time talking, spend
a lot of time touring the show, spent a lot
of time in bars
So one time theyd both gotten really drunk
They were both sitting in the back seat singing
German songs; they were having a great time
And Jack told the story of how he built this
road that we were on because he was a prisoner
of war in Germany
Everyone talks about him designing all these
machines, which he neither designed nor actually
knew how to use
The first computer that he was actually comfortable
using was an I-pad and when he got comfortable
using it he just took to it immediately but
he never learned to program, never was interested
in doing any of that stuff
He knew it wasnt magic but assumed that
if he needed any expertise he would just hire it
or he had a son that could do it for him
so it was fine
My dad brought home, in 1977, a Commodore
PET 2001
Much like the gamers today that spend all
of their time in their bedrooms
Thats what I did with a PE My first computer was a Commodore PET 4032
My first experience of computers was the Commodore
PE The Commodore PET has certain characteristic
sounds when you get to know it
First of all theres the sound and the feel
of your fingers on the keyboard
A sort of crunching sound, a comforting sound
really once once you get used to it not like
keyboards today or anything God forbid flat,
glass screens that make no sound, where you
have to put a synthesized sound in place
The actual touch from the touch-typing was
an important feedback mechanism for the machine
It was as I think about quite nostalgically
it was a very comfortable way
Chuck moved out to California, assembled a
small team of people to work on the PE He did an awful lot of the work himself but
there were a few incredibly talented engineers
involved, Chuck and me
Chuck knew that it needed to come with a programming
language that you could use it fresh out of
the box and the the best one available at
the time, to some extent the only one, was
Microsoft BASIC
You know Gates comes in and says he wants
a dollar a machine and my fathers response
was Im already married
So he offered Bill what at the time must have
seemed like an enormous amount of money - $50,000,
which he took
Couple of years later Bill is walking around
with this entourage of Japanese businessmen
And he comes up to the Commodore booth
If you typed WAIT6502 the next number would
be the number of times the word Microsoft
was printed on the screen
And thats what he expected to happen, instead
the machine just hung
And I leaned over to Bill and said you
know theres nothing at that address, its
just going to hang there and he gave
me the if looks could kill look
And then I realised what he was doing and
said, Your BASIC has been incredibly important
to the to the success of this machine
Its a great product and Im really glad
we have it in our computers and as a result
he let me live
You may remember the first thing one of these
machines did would say COMMODORE BASIC with
so many bytes free; so we had the we loaded
the program that would read the number of
bytes free off of the screen, decode that
If it wasnt the right number it meant that
the memory had failed its online power test
So the the very first PETs actually self-diagnosed,
which was pretty remarkable
The first model PET had this little or as
they called it chiclet keyboard with the little
plastic things that came off on your fingers
and a cassette tape
The next model had a larger full typewriter
spacing keyboard and then you would use an
external cassette drive
My main sort of single contribution to the
system was the graphics character set and
the only instruction I got from Chuck was
four of those images have to be hearts, diamonds,
spades and clubs because I want to play blackjack
I think the goal was to have the machine running
for the winter CES, Consumer Electronics Show,
which didnt work
We eventually figured out what was wrong,
there was a resistor missing on the main circuit
board otherwise everything worked perfectly
but we didnt know that until a couple of
weeks later
So enormous amounts of work went into meeting
the deadline of these shows
Yes so there was a lot of pressure at that
first Hannover fair so I guess that would
have been spring of 1977
It was my job to take the PE It got its own seat on the airplane next
to me, which was lots of fun
Then we had to go through German customs
What do you mean this is a computer? Computers
are ten of millions of dollars and theyre
the size of a room
No it cant be a computer, what are you
talking about?
It went back and forth a couple of times
In the meantime we had missed the connecting
flight from Frankfurt to Hannover
So we rented a VW microbus and drove from
Frankfurt to Hannover
Took the PET, popped it down on the table,
plugged it in and it didnt work
So on the phone we had to diagnose what was
going on and repair the machine
Got it working and that was a lot of fun
VIC-20 with 8K expansion probably could have
got away with it at the time so that was all good
Fat graphics yes we like the fat graphics
20 was it 20, 20, 22? 22, 22 yes
Yes it was, I mean the difference between
the VIC and the Commodores graphics, yes
the Commodore was better but sometimes the
VIC version is better
Oh look at that!
Commodore was a very international company
We were the third largest personal computer
company in the world but we were we were number
three in the US but were number one in Europe
So as a result of having sold the Commodore
PET computer which was very popular especially
in schools
So here we were at this meeting and it was
a large room with about twenty-five people
seated around a square table that was open
in the centre
So Jack came in and the engineers they wanted
to do a colour computer like an Apple and
Jack said I want a small introductory computer,
I want a small computer that plays games and
for for the masses not the classes
And as soon as he said that the whole room
erupted and everybody said, no we have
to do a business computer, we have to compete
with Apple, we have to do a personal computer,
we have to do larger computers not smaller
And Jack said, I want the small computer
but you talk about it and Ill come back
tomorrow, I have some business so he left
Dad calls and he says the engineers have come
up with a new machine
Id like you to come and take a look and
see what you think of it
Go to Chicago go to the the Commodore booth
So theres this little machine in a rectangular
box hooked up to a TV showing all sorts of
PET graphics you know character sets stuff
but in colour
And that was the birth of the of the VIC-20
And that became the first generation of home
The first million-seller of home computers
that seeded the market
I came on as part of the VIC commando team,
which was the VIC-20 product launch team
So we launched the VIC-20 at the Consumer
Electronics Show in 1981
It was a hit
It actually went on to become the first million-seller
home computer; its the first microcomputer
of any kind to sell one million units
When we first got the VIC-20 I had to share
it with my brother
It was actually my parents bought it for me
and my brother; hes three years older than me
And we we didnt have anything else; we
just had the computer and the TV
So we didnt have any games for it, we didnt
have any software for it, all we had was the
computer and the manual
And so we started playing around trying to
figure out how to program in BASIC using the,
you know they had some example programs in
the manual and it would teach you how to do things
And then you know once I learned that I started
making my own programs
The VIC could be programmed but it only had
5K of RAM memory
When you turned it on the 5K shrunk down to
3.5K is basically one sheet of typing papers
worth of memory
Today we have gigabytes
The fat graphics really added to some of the
They were just chunky but fun
Yes and the sort of sound effects were just
sort of raucous and just
Well youre firing everything out the sound
Why isnt it blowing up?
But it was it was that good
The sounds massively loud through the speakers
thinking is this real?
Is this going to really happen?
But that was how it was you know it got your
Some massive overly loud zapping sound, thatll
draw you straight in you know Ooh playing
this then
You would always have to be wary of the fact
of oh can this game run on unexpanded VIC
or do I need 8K or 16K expansion?
And thankfully a lot of games companies realised
that you didnt want to take a chance with
the game and realise it doesnt work so
theyd always put Unexpanded VIC-20
in nice big bold letters on the cover
We wired up the memory externally to the VIC-20 and that gave us a full 8k of RAM to develop
Once we got that we could actually start developing
more significant cartridges, more complicated
games like Omega Race, Gorf, Sargon II Chess,
the adventure games and things like that
Couldnt do those on 3.5K but 8K was bare enough
Some of our family members gave us some Christmas
presents that were VIC-20 cartridge games
We got Omega Race, some kind of Sea Battle
or something like that
Omega Race was definitely the best one
I still have that cartridge
The real winner of course was the Commodore
Yes so the Commodore 64, which was the natural
outgrowth of the VIC
The same people that designed that VIC chip
designed the VIC-II, which is what powered
the Commodore 64
And then it had an absolute brilliant sound chip
And the Commodore with its Sound Interface
Device or the SID chip, as its affectionately known
really bundled up a hardware synthesizer
inside a home computer
And I knew then that that was a computer that
I just had to get my hands on
A lot of the music on the games at that time
in the very early eighties was just really awful
And he did a couple of VIC-20 things then
we kind of went on to the 64 really, which
was indeed obviously the SID chip [sings]
The Commodore 64 sound chip it was it was
it was a decade ahead of everything else
So even to the stage of where the Amiga came
out the Amiga couldnt do the sounds that
the Commodore 64 was doing
It was that good
I just had to choose the C64 because of the
64K memory and the fact that it had a sound
chip where none of the others did
Hearing a piece of Robs I think it was
his arrangement of English Country Gardens
for was it for Hover Bother or something like
You know yum de da dum da da dum but its
a lovely arrangement and had some lovely little
sounds, little twiddles in it
The 64 was a huge eye-opener and it was also
a bit of an equalizer at home in terms of
the different age groups getting people together
and playing a game
You know where the youngest in the family
could beat the oldest or something you know
You know there was no Internet at the time
There was no easy way, even getting to the
library was difficult
It was hard for your parents to haul five
kids to the library but you know there was
these gems of resources that we would find
just on trips to the grocery store
I knew there was a big store that was nearby,
bring a pad and paper and actually write the
machine code myself, copying it because I
couldnt buy the book
And so I would sit there while my mom was
shopping or while she was doing her thing
I would come home and have a piece of it,
bring it to my Commodore 64 and have that
stored and I would have to wait another week
to go by to get that next little piece
First Commodore 64 for I think three to fours
years and bearing in mind it was second-hand
anyway but it got to the point where it would
only load games if the cassette deck was upside down
And sometimes I had to bang the computer on
the desk to get it to work
And I guess I was seating the chips back in
their sockets but as a as a twelve/thirteen
year old I had no idea about that sort of thing
Ive been a Commodore 64 fan since 1985
and in that time Ive been involved in programming,
composing music, running a disc magazine and
have also written a book about Commodore 64 games
Commodore 64 was an amazing machine
My best friend Shaun at school, he had a Commodore 64
and I was sort of envious because it was
actually one of the newer ones that came out
the little you know sleek-looking white ones
Joe Blade was a brilliant game on the Commodore 64
It was actually set in like you know the far
distant future in the year 1997 when London
had been taken over by thugs
And we got really far in that game and I remember
we actually left this Commodore 64 on for
about a week because you know we didnt
want to lose our high score
And when I got the Commodore the technology
of the sound chip meant that I could explore
musical ideas that perhaps lay just beyond
my technical playing ability
I was really, really in to Ragtime for example
and I heard a couple of Ragtime-y kind of
tracks in Rob Hubbards soundtrack to Action
Biker and then Martin Galways soundtrack
to Kong Strikes Back
And that was the point really when I realised
that the Commodore 64 could be a vehicle for
exploring composition and performance in a
way that didnt necessarily rely on instrumental
I love music and you know we wanted to do
something different with music
And I remember seeing this advertisement in
one of the computer magazines from this guy
Rob Hubbard who basically was you know Ill
write games Ill write music for your games
and and I think he even posted us a cassette
to say you know heres some of the stuff I've done
Eventually it clicked as to you know as to how it worked and what it was actually doing
And then once you get, once you get that stuff
working without the computer crashing then
basically it was like Pandoras box opening
I was thinking much more about the about the
SID chip
It kind of became like a popularity contest
really the more games you had the cooler you
were at school
And if you were that kid that would come in
with that you know new game that had just
come out in the shop on Monday morning that
every kid in school was asking for youd
be the most popular kid in school that week
Commodore gaming was promoted through the
use of clubs
Whoever had the faster ability of doingtap,
tap, tap, click or click, click, click
or this - would obviously be the winner
Whoever got the most points we used to buy
prizes as opposed to sweets, obviously the
Greek element would be buying a pile of souvlaki
At school there were lots of people with different
I had a friend who had a Spectrum and I had
friends who had the Commodore 64 as well and
we would occasionally swap games to try something
I remember one lunch time running home from
school with Ghostbusters, the tie in to the
film and playing that for about half an hour
instead of having lunch
There was a real awful sample that was used
on the Ghostbusters, so it became apparent
that you could do samples
[Ghostbusters- haha haha]
What I wanted to do was try to find a way
to got the be able to play a sample not just
a little speech sample with nothing else going
on but to get a musical, get something integrated
in the music so distorted rock guitar was
an obvious choice
What could I do sound you know with the technology
to get more out of the sound chip
And one of the things that I developed was
I realised you can play the the SID voices,
the three voices whilst the sampling plays
over it
And that was a revelation and they did it
with the volume register
The Commodore 64 now was the one that myself
and my brother we we sort of saved up our money
We worked overtime, we heard this machine
was coming out and it was going to be the
greatest, most wonderful new thing and we
we saved up our money and we, as teenagers,
and bought a Commodore 64
And my goodness we were very happy with it,
an absolutely amazing machine
What was the the culture like at Commodore
Was was it hard work?
Was it a lot of partying?
What went on?
There was always partying
We, we really I guess supported the the the
idea that you work hard, you play hard
Soon as David joined, I met David Pleasance
when he first joined the company in sales
I was already there and David was a master
of creating interesting bundles for retail
Great, great program that was developed was,
while I was there, was International Soccer
I walked past a computer store and I saw a
game playing in the window and it was International
Soccer on the Commodore 64
And there was colour, there was sound, there
was animation, there was graphics
I just had to have that machine
This game was unbelievable and it was only
possible because the 64 had sprites
No other computer had these programmable,
movable objects
So the SID station was a project at Chalmers
University of Technology where a couple of
guys had this course to make something that
involved programmable logic
And they had two ideas; one was like a MIDI
CD converter and the other was something called
And SIDomania was a synthesizer based on the
SID chip
The SID station is a tabletop synthesizer
So its got a few direct controls that control
sound parameters
Its got a few things for entering tables
and stuff that you would do on a on a regular
Commodore 64 and a tracker but in a hardware
Hey, theres this company called Commodore
Yes I need to get out of here
So without really knowing; I was saving my
money for an Atari 400, I couldnt even
afford an 800 back then
So I I didnt know much about Commodore
and I was about to become an Atari fan but
that stopped the day I got to Commodore
We brought this Commodore 64 and it totally
amazing because we had a PDP 23 I think it was
And the boss was very Oh you know you have
to be very careful around the PDP 23
And heres Bil with this Commodore 64 and
you can type in LOAD, $8, 8 or whatever
but you know it would do a disc drive in a
directory and all these things
And that was like you know working on computers
seems a little bit more interesting than building
So I go to interview with Bob Russell who
you know worked on parts of the VIC-20 and C64
And you know its going OK and stuff but
then at one point he said why am I LOADX
immediate 02? and Id go 8502
And he looks at me and he goes then Id
store immediate and Im like 8D109
Im muttering the opcodes that I know from
having worked on the 6502 so closely
And I saw his body language change you know
Hes like Ok well have you down to
the plant type thing
Well he he phrased it so nonchalantly, just
swing by the plant
I thought I was going for burgers or something
So I dont even bring my resume and Im
in like corduroys or something when I swing
And first thing I do is when I go to interview
with Shiraz Shivji whos the guy whos
either going to hire me or not
He had his desk turned around the wrong way
and I didnt know so I run I walk in and
pop myself in his chair
And he walks in and has to like excuse
me, you are in my chair
Oh right
And then goes wheres your resume?
Im going I didnt bring one
And its over, the interview is over at
that point but now Frank Hughes stops by;
the guy who did work he goes oh Shiraz
I got it
So he brings it in and Im starting to you
know kind of hit my stride, talking and stuff
And I just happen to mention a the K-Tron
the vibrating wire technology, I know its
one of our competitors, but I went into the
detail you know if you if you say youre
a satellite, you know satellite, you better
be able to talk satellite
Well Im weighing instrumentation so I better
talk it
And what I did there was I said, it uses
a reference weight verses a regular weight
and it can even work on the moon
And Shiraz looked at me and said you meant
mass and I was hired because he got to
correct me
I was early enough when I joined Commodore
where we were still up in the MOS building
And so its these tiny rooms painted psychotic
blue and there was three engineers in there
and you didnt need the door you couldve
put a forth engineer in there
And none of cared because like theres a
chip fab right below our feet and stuff
So thats where I did what became known
as the TED series of computers
I did that while working at the MOS building
And then after we moved down to Westchester
into that huge facility there, we got got
Hedley and a guy named Terry Fisher Fish
who joined us and he did all the PC boards
So we had like the cream of the crop of the
skill company was now down here
One of the very first tasks I was given, well
it came from a guy named Andy Finkel
And he told me to re-write the cassette loader
code for the C128 to make it run faster and
run better than the code that was used on
the C64
But he put this one perverse constraint you
cannot move any labels
So every label in the assembly code had to
stay in exactly the same place because Andy
was of the opinion that programmers would
randomly jump to any label that had gotten
out there and they were all public
So it was a very odd thing to have to do but
thats what I ended up doing
The John Lennon looking guy from the from
the outside was there and that was Bil Herd
And he proceeded to ask me some technical
questions about about saturation limiting
diodes on the input of op-amps and also about
Laplace transforms, which he didnt know
how to do
And it was like yes so I think we had a really
good interview and sure enough a day or so
later they called me in to visit Commodore
on Monday and offered me a job on the spot
I had the long hair going so I looked like
Floyd the drummer of the Muppet Show, the
way he walked and so you know
So I was unlike most people you know because
in California I might have been more normal
but here out here on the East coast our engineers
had actually turned into a pretty stodgy bunch
and I was able to help turn it back into animal house
And then we had fun
A guy I used to work with was a guy named
George Robbins
He was a character
I say we lived at Commodore, we worked at
Commodore, we would go home at night and at
least sleep in our bed, occasionally take
as shower and show up the next day
George lived at work
George had two cubicles where the rest of
us had one
George had a nest
George had managed to get caught once driving
a car with no drivers licence, an expired
registration and no insurance
I parked the truck against a telephone pole
After the cops were done with me and Id
like take care of a little detail like call
So he gave me a ride into Commodore you know
not long after I became known as the resident
Commodore person [laughing in background]
So George just decided he was going to live
at Commodore
Greg Berlin and I had discovered that down
in the factory area up like in this weird
sort of mid-floor area in the factory there
was a place where they would stash stash all
the Herman Miller furniture to improve our
offices by putting up doorways and things
that werent ever supposed to be there
And George had done the same thing only even
more so that he had kind of made himself a
little room that he could close off, which
we called his nest
Yes well the, I was the one who coined the
phrase nesting
You know whereas I had the air mattress and
stuff George would sleep in bubble wrap
And then hed get up and hed be walking
around and hed have these red rings, blinking
his eyes and stuff but hed have these little
impressions all over his face from the bubble wrap
And when you went to look for George, because
he didnt always sleep in the same place,
youd look under something see like a foot
sticking out of bubble wrap found him
You know it was literally like a mouse nest
at that part, so we called it nesting
I kept a sleeping bag
I could sleep under my desk when I needed
to but I wasnt planning to live there full-time
but George kind of was
And hed also take, hed also take sort
of sponge baths in the, in the bathroom
We didnt have a shower and so yes he was
kind of a character, thats just part of it
George got paid in cash, he didnt have
direct deposit and at some point they found
out that he had like six months of un-cashed
pay cheques in his drawer, in his office because
he was never leaving and you know maybe to
eat hed drive you know, I mean all of us
would had cars and wed go out
And you know we are all in our twenties and
thirties and were getting paid good money
we think and you know were doing okay
And George has decided he needs money
And he reaches into his pocket and he pulls
out six months worth of pay cheques
What that George?
He said, Oh I need to cash out some
Because he needs a deposit, because he didnt
spend any money, because he didnt have
any expenses, he lived in the building you
So he had this huge pile
He filled out six months of pay cheques and
of course Im sitting there going oh
man what I could you know we are all like
wow thats a, thats a chunk of change
So he was forced by personnel to open an account
with direct deposit because I guess they didnt
like the idea of cheques not being cashed
Yes it was funny, thats a, I mean theres,
you could you could come up with a lot of
different George stories if you thought about it
Yes George, George was, he was a character
We worked to go to CES and George was an engineer, a key engineer on the product, actually it
might have been when the A500 came out and
the mandate came down that everybody going
to CES had to wear a suit
So you had to have a tie and a suit and you
had to look good
And all of Georges attire were were you
know blue jeans with battery acid holes in
them and ripped T-shirts just because he didnt
feel that dressing up was sort of his thing
But he wanted to go to CES and so he needed
to get a suit
So he goes out and he buys this, this synthetic
material, polyester suit, sort of tan coloured
right and hes got the suit
So now we are in the labs and we have to figure
out how to get to CES
So the rest of us have this thing called luggage
that we put our clothes in but George doesnt
possess any of this so hes not sure exactly
what hes going to do
So literally he takes a grocery bag and he
jams his suit in the grocery bag
He rolls the grocery bag over and he puts
duct tape on the outside of the bag and this
is his luggage
So he takes this thing and Ill never forget
sitting there in Las Vegas waiting for the
luggage to come down and its coming down
and here comes rolling Georges bag
So then what happened?
Well its a polyester suit and its been
all scrunched up and compressed
So he puts the suit on and now the sleeves
are like up to here and hes got this wrinkly
suit on
And he shows up and so management finally
said George you dont have to work the
booth, you know, you dont have to wear
the suit, you know, go see CES and and
they never really fought him on that again
One of the best engineers I ever worked with
It took a few years to get around this and
now I have my own car and my own house and
I dont live at Commodore anymore but I
love it anyway
Commodore stock went through the ceiling,
the Commodore stock went up and split a couple
of times
In fact Jack and his three sons had a tradition
that whenever the stock went up ten points
they would all stop and share a bottle of
Dom Perignon champagne
And I Im privileged to say I was with them
several times when they did that
That was pretty cool and its a, its
a kind of an interesting symbol of the growth
we were achieving
We were not just growing the market
We werent just giving millions of people
a computer that couldnt afford before
We were also making a lot of money for investors
and showing that this was a profitable enterprise
Jack Tramiel done his Apple killer and it
was the Commodore 64
He was done with Apple
We used to say Apple who?
I mean thats just that was it, they were,
they were cooked in our book
And like its true and we did twenty-seven
million C64s where as Apple 2 might have
sold five and a half million or something
So we didnt need another games machine
what, what, what Jack wanted was Sir Clive
Sinclairs spot now you know
And he had the little Spectrum and things
and hes like I want him next, right, I
want that
And so the, the C116 if you saw when Shiraz
pulled it out and showed it to me
It was this big; it was the Raspberry Pi of
the day
It was supposed to cost $49 and it had chiclet
keys but it had 121 colours, had built in
sound, all in one chips, basically a chip
with a computer built around it
Which back then it used to be lots of chips right
As the company got more and more successful
and more and more perks came up like, as my
father called it the PET jet
Although it probably should have been called
the Commodore 64 jet but that didnt sound
as good
Irving would demand use of the PET jet whenever
he could and dad didnt like this, it did
not fit with his you know morals of what the
right thing for a company asset to be used for
Then there was the one with the full size
keyboard and TED meant text display
It was supposed to be a business machine
You want to play games get a 64
In a matter of fact the price is completely
different right but were not, were not
trying to compete with ourselves
So Jack had that, had that focus that he knew
what, what he wanted to do with the market
I think both Commodore and Apple had in 1983,
so the CES was in January of 1984, had just
each cost a billions dollars in annual sales
As I like to point out Commodore doing it
with machines that cost a tenth as much as
the Apple machines
So a few more machines being sold
An argument going on between Jack and Irving
upstairs in the booth and I was there and
suddenly I got this, I was demonstrating and
suddenly I got, somebody came over and said
you got to come up and explain you know the
plus/4 to them
So I went up and I I didnt really know
Irving I know Jack a lot better and so I went
through my spiel you know explaining what,
what it was, what are, what we wanted it to
How it was going to prop up the price of the
C64 and you know they both, the people in
the room listened and then I was dismissed
There was a celebration for Commodores;
I guess it was 25th anniversary
at the time or the 30th, if I do the math
And dad gave Irving an ultimatum and said,
You cant use company assets as if theyre
your own
As long as Im president you cant, you
have to stop
So either you stop doing it or I quit
To which Irving said goodbye and dad
Just you know left the room and quit
Walked by my wife on the, in the hall and
looking rather stern and upset
She was kind of shocked and thats, he just quit
There are allsorts of stories
I think the official Commodore story is that
there was a board meeting in New York a couple
of weeks later where they fired him
Im pretty sure he wasnt at the meeting
When Jack leaves and he leaves literally at
Jack has a disagreement with Irving Gould,
they part ways literally at the CES show and
at that point TED literally died because now
there is nobody to focus all those things
The new generation Corvettes
So the three of us got together and bought
him one of these Corvettes at that same Consumer
Electronics Show
So Sam and Garry drove it down to Las Vegas
for that same show and unbeknownst to us that
you know this whole quitting Commodore thing
was going to happen we were going to give
him this this fun present
So Garry arranges to have the car parked in
the front of the hotel and then they went
outside just on some pretence
And dad walks out and sees the car and goes
thats it, thats the car, thats
what I want
And he walks up to it and he goes its
the right colour and its got all the right
you know its got the right, right wheels
and the right interior and the right everything
and this is perfect
And Garry reaches into his pocket, pulls out
the keys and says, its yours
Yes and then a couple of days later he quits
and hops in the car and drives home
I didnt really know him I you know, Id
seen him a couple of times but Jack was still
there, he didnt leave until after Consumer
Electronics Show that January
Couple of weeks after that is when he left
so yes so I was there basically for the tail
end of the Jack Tramiel era
It didnt, didnt really have an impact
A lot of the people who had made the Commodore
64 had left a long time ago
But the, but without Jack around the sheep
started multiplying without a wolf right and
pretty soon were stepping in sheep shit
everywhere right
So and, and meanwhile you know we go from
a core of about twelve people, eight to twelve
people doing all the work
The department blooms up to fifteen and its
still the same core of eight to twelve of
us doing all the work
They didnt know the new computer you have
to start over again
Get developers on board
And this is more than marketing that that
dropped the ball
Anybody that had only been there a couple
of years thought that C64s sell themselves
They sure acted like they did we sold 27 million
But then they upped the price for the TED
series and called it the Plus/4 and it became
Well it was designed to be $79
So, so that thing now dies on the vine but
what that shows then is you know with, with
Jack we had a focus
He didnt think a distributor should make
any money off hardware and he didnt think
we should make too much money off hardware
He thinks, he thinks you should have, have
a good price for a good product but not overcharge
And distributors like oh we want to make
nice no youll make that on the software
but, but you dont make it on my hardware
So that, he would, he would enforce that so
you know without him doing that then you know
heres a $300 thing, why is that?
So he gets a hundred, he gets a hundred and
he gets a hundred
Fifty top executives, engineers and marketeers
at Commodore all walked out of the company
in one week
Its as if we set our time clock six months,
we never talked to each other
The six-month point came, we werent happy
with what we saw at the company
We werent being allowed to develop the
new computers that we had in mind
Had a lot of new, new stuff and prototypes
in development, so we all walked out
Greg Pratt the president of Commodore USA,
me, all the VIC Commandoes, many of the engineers,
the whole infrastructure just walked out in
one week
I jumped ship to what had be called the D128
and, and theres a story with the day that
But the, we ended up in engineering deciding
to do the C128 because no one stopped us
This wasnt from on high, this wasnt
theres our project to plan for this
Couple of engineers, I sat down at a table,
I, I drew, I threw away the old guys design
because it just wasnt going to go anywhere
used their little grid paper and hand drew
a schematic that became the C128
And as, we show it to management when wed
get a certain distance and theyre like
this is great, I had a great idea were
like I need another guy on my team yes
youve got it you know
And so we marched it down field by building
up resources and things but its like we
told them its now called the C128 you know
because we decided, it was us that decided
to make it Commodore compatible to the Commodore 64
And we hadnt said a hundred percent compatible,
that was marketing once again drifting through
the picture like they, like they were in a
drunken haze oh its a hundred percent
compatible well no, never said that but
well try
Yes I, I, its hard to say, I think a lot
of people are just like the idea its bigger,
better, faster, more but is also runs my old
programs so I dont have to keep the Commodore
64 around you know, which is, thats a significant
The 128 was there to fill a gap right
We needed something for CES and we know the
Amigas coming
Im actually one of the people they brought
and I looked at the spec and said, Why
are there tanks instead of business icons?
So we saw the 128 as just basically if, if
the main thrust of the allied forces was,
was the Amiga it was me and my crew went up
to the mountains and held the mountain pass
for the winter you know that how I kind of
look at it
And so the 128 was only meant to sell one
And Yes I know we sold I know six or seven
million of them at least and that was, it
worked more than most people, you know most
companies were selling as far as a single
model of the computer
It didnt, you know it didnt match the,
you know the twenty-something million of the,
of the C64 but nobody else did either
There was supposed to a C128D and that was
my favourite computer
It was supposed to come out at the exact same
And thats the one with the built-in drive,
the keyboard clipped under it and it didnt
get made
And I didnt know it didnt get produced
until after Id quit because I kind of wandered
off after and I was burnt
I was just fried, I, I, I, I had used a lot
of me up in a very short period of time
Do you know the hole-in-the-wall story?
Have you heard the hole-in-the-wall story?
No tell us it then
Ok, so the hole-in-the-wall story
We, we, as you know, we were working very
hard and didnt need delays that we didnt
need to be there in the first place and Commodore
found a new way to throw one in front of us
And Id moved in to this one room with,
where I had this big emulator and on the weekends
they would turn off the, the air conditioner
So I would wear a headband and no shirt and
I would have to keep washing it off about
every twenty minutes with spray because Id
dripped sweat on it
But none the less it was my room and thats
where I did my work
Then one day I show up and the doors locked
on the weekend
Oh this is inconvenient
So I climb up over the ceiling and I get that
white crap all over me and I open the door,
And we put up a sign that says dont
lock this door, there is no key for it
because you know it was a brand new facility
for us and theyd never ever turned the
key over we figured
Well the security guards cant resist a
door than can be locked and locked it again
Climb up over, get the white crap all over
me again, put a sign that says no dont
lock this door, theres no key for it
I may have said assholes or something
So finally its locked again
They said I could punch through the wall in
one punch
It was actually two, one for the inside layer,
one for the outside layer to where I could
reach in and unlock the door right
So by the time Ive got it open, then I
got the white crap all over my arm now instead
of me
And theres a bunch of Z8000 programmers
you know looking like I just shot a sheep
or something and the next day they locked
the door again
So I had to put a sign up that said look
assholes theres a fing hole in the
wall, stop locking the door
Thats the hole-in-the-wall story
You dont get to bark
Were doing something important here where
no barking is important
Are we rolling?
Welcome to RJ Micals house of construction,
ha-ha ha-ha
You know you probably wont be able to get
to show any of the house, will you?
Dont worry I can see it right now
Yes, oh good, ok well
Im RJ Mical and I was one of the original
engineers that invented the Amiga computer
a long time ago and since then Ive done
a lot with my life
Ive done a lot with my career and managed
to go a lot of places
But I got to tell you that Amiga thing stands
out as, as one of the most precious and and
special periods of my life and I think the
thing Ive created that Im most delighted about
When I first got into Amiga I was I was a
very young kid and this was a fantastic escape
and that machine I absolutely loved
The sound on the Amiga was a bit of a game
changer so for the first time video game music
and computer music began to sound like production
And when I saw the specs of the Amiga and
some demos and stuff like that I was like
this is this is the next level you know
My love is the Amiga 500 and the CD32
And I got an Amiga 1000 and I was I was probably
mostly known for doing the Budbrain mega demos 1 and 2
The first time I played the Amiga was when
my cousin had it
My cousin was four years older than me so
he had this Amiga and we were going up to
his house and there was just like this magic
Im at the University of Illinois and Im
an English major Im Im studying to to
get an English degree, not sure exactly what
Im going to do with it, literature maybe,
you know writing for newspapers or magazines
or something like that
But I didnt want to do literature; I didnt
want to write for magazines
I wanted to write books; I wanted to do my
own my own creation
But I was afraid of being a starving artist
and then I was going to go out into the real
world and be unable to be really successful
and and have a you know have a great income
and so on
All the things Id been taught that I really
wanted which turned out to be not true but
I was scared to go out and and get out into
the real world with an English degree
And I had this amazing fateful afternoon that
Im sitting in the computer lab and Im
about to graduate and Im worried what am
I going to do out there in the real world
with an English language degree?
And Im sitting there in the computer lab
worrying what am I going to do? What am I
going to do?
And then I take a break from my worrying to
play some computer, some of my computer game;
the Star Trek game that I played
And I play the game for a while, then Id
stop and worry what am I going to do with
my life? What am I going to do with my life?
Then Id play the game and Id worry what
am I going to do with my life? And finally
hey I know: I could do this stuff
And, and realised all of instant in one afternoon
that that really my calling was to go off
and and to do software engineering
In roughly December of 1982 Dave Morris convinced
me that I should you know come work with him
at at initial Amiga actually it was still
Hi-Toro at the time; it was named Amiga I
think a few months after I got there
When I got there I was the first technical
employee of any kind there
Dave had eight other marketing and sales people
working on the game controller and other things
to prep the channel
Jay Miner officially couldnt be there because
part of the deal was that he would stay at
ZyMOS and finish the pacemaker
So I arrived there by myself and then later
on Jay and Joe Decuir would stop by
And the team of the three of us were given
a room with three very large wall-sized white
boards to come up with a product
Not only was working at Williams Electronics
an amazing experience because it gave me this
opportunity to really express myself as a
computer scientist but also as an artist
Im a storyteller; I love creating music;
I love creating graphics and special effects
and it was a job that allowed me to tie all
of that together and do something
But even better than that I met a fellow there
that got connected shortly after that with
this new company out in California called
Amiga Computer
Dave Morris basically told us what the channel
was and what he wanted to put in the channel
and we were given a pretty much a clean slate
to do it
He wanted something that could produce animation
more like the cartoons kids saw on TV
And so we started on the whiteboard just drawing
boxes and one of us would throw up an idea
and you know Jay would shake his head and
say no feasible
Of course the forth person in the room was
Mitchy Jays dog who would actually sit
there watching
You know the stories are that we would look
at Mitchy and Mitchy would either nod or fall
asleep and we would use that as a cue to the design
And the original Amiga that I saw in the block
diagram had game controller ports as part
of its design
And, and all of that it checked out as, as
a proper game system but it also had these
extra capabilities
And it was that more than anything else that
inspired me to join the company because the
games stuff was interesting to me and to create
a game platform I probably would have said
yes if it was just that
The Amiga is sort of the child of Commodore
and Apple and Atari
Jay and Joe Decuir had worked on Atari and
of course they knew about the sprite engines
that were in the Atari VCS
The chips they had worked with were the 6502,
which had come from Commodore of course; Chuck
Peddles chip and then I had worked at Apple
and learned the tricks that Woz and Burrell
Smith used in the Apple 2 and the Mackintosh
and of course the work that Lisa had reinvented
from the Xerox Alto
So we sort of combined ideas from that whole
ecosystem of computers that had come before
And I think that was one of the reasons the
Amiga turned out so well, the cross-pollination
of ideas from multiple predecessor designs
What I saw more than anything else was the
the quality, the strength of the people that
were putting together the company
And, and yes the engineering staff was superb
and I was easily convinced by people like
Dale and and Dale Luck and Ron Nicholson and
of course Jay Miner
But the but the business people really believed
and and were extremely well experienced and
had the right know how and and the right enthusiasm
to be able to make the thing happen and so
I said yes to joining Amiga Computer
I am the chairman of the Dutch Commodore User
Our club is more than 35 years old and still
alive and kicking
I like to collect old computers mainly Commodores
We have almost four hundred members
Our club meetings are visited by I think so
about fifty to till hundred visitors every
time and six times a year we are here in Maarssen
in the Netherlands
Its a very nice place to be because we
have a lot to do with innovation
Somehow Dave Needle got introduced to us as
a consultant who possibly could help with
some of the general hardware design, logic
design and chip design
He came to interview actually they didnt
like him at the first interview and sent him
He sort of begged his way back in basically
because he had seen the whiteboard and decided
that whiteboard was better than anything else
that hed seen to work on
When I joined Amiga I originally joined with
the graphics staff, theres a fellow named
Dale Luck who was in charge of the graphics
development for the Amiga and I joined to
work for him and to work on graphics and it
worked out well
But as time went on and as the company continued
to grow and to develop I ended up taking on
more and more responsibilities for running
the team with, with my boss at the time
The technology these days is to put billions
of transistors on a chip, few decades ago
it was millions
Back when we were designing the Amiga putting
several thousand transistors on a chip was
a very difficult task
In retrospect we were trying to do a project
that was nearly impossible for the team size
that we had
All computers at that point were switching
to being user interface oriented
It was, it was no longer good enough to have
a computer where the user had to type cryptic
text into a text window and command the computer
to do things by knowing the right instructions
to give
The new world was one where it was a graphical
user interface and you interacted with it
with you hands and and it was a much more
rich and enriching sort of environment that
needed to be created and the Amiga had everything
except that, the Amiga did not have a graphical
user interface capability
And so at that point in my career I quit being
the director of software engineering for the
Amiga Computers Company and instead I went
back to work being an engineer and and I spent
about seven months developing the user interface
for the Amiga that I called intuition
Wed have these big wall sized pieces of
plastic that were essentially the layout for
the chip and we were trying to put several
tens of thousands of transistors down by hand
and get it correct
An engineer nowadays would say without design
tools that is impossible; you will never succeed;
it will never work
So if you believe them the Amiga chipset is
an impossibility that we managed to successfully create
Now we also had to do this in a reasonable
amount of time, several thousand transistors;
a start-up company has a certain amount of funds
It all came down to the trade shows and in
particular the CES The Consumer Electronics Show
where it was make or break time for Amiga
We had all these other interesting little
novelties going but the truth was that we
either delivered or we were going to run out
of money
The money that we had going was good seed
money that would get us to the point that
we had something working but we had to go
further, we had to find additional investors
and turn it into a real system
And the way to get additional investors was
to show people that what we had thought we
could get working was actually working
And the place to do that was at CES, at the
trade show
And so it, it became one of those deadlines
for us
The CES was all-important; that that it became
make or break for us
That we knew that the investors, that the
companies that would be interested in this
And would show enough interest and it would
inspire the investors to give us the money
that we needed; that we had to have a good
showing at CES
And at the same time the company really was
starting to run out of money, seriously starting
to run out of money
And I had already started to become part of
more of the executive half of the company
at that point, so I was privy to a lot of
the conversations they were having about how
desperate thing really were and how tight
money was becoming
But in general this wasnt being discussed
with the employees because we didnt want
people to feel panicky and nervous and and
not work as well as they might or start looking
for other jobs or something like that if they
thought the company was going to fail
And so they kept it low-key, they didn't talk
a lot about how important these trade shows
were but we all sort of knew
And and and and I wasn't all that comfortable
with keeping stuff from the employees and
so I kind of told a lot of people some of
to some extent what we're up against and why
we needed to deliver
Dave Morris had a trade show he went to target
and so we rushed ahead with the design
And as we were coming up to one of the early
trade shows and and we were both realising
how how desperate everything was and that
we really needed to get our best foot forward
But also that we were so close and with just
a little extra work there were so many cool
things we could show then we ended up just
working all night long
We often worked all night long and and Dale
and I got into this thing where we would start
playing rock music real loud in the middle
of the night to help keep ourselves awake
And when you had to do something like cue
up a five-minute compile instead of sitting
there and potentially falling asleep you would
stand up and dance
And the two of us would take turns standing
up and dancing three, four, five o'clock in
the morning in the software lab to keep ourselves
awake while we did our work And the Led Zeppelin
was blaring loud and we're dancing
And finally the day came that that we lost
track of time and our co-workers start showing
up to the office and and there's this loud
music blaring out of the software lab
And they go back there to look to see what's
going on and there's Dale and me dancing and
We got the reputation then for being the dancing
fools that's where we got that nickname Dale
and I we were known as the dancing fools
at Amiga because of that
What we did at Amiga was unprecedented they
the strange hardware rig that we put together
to create the effect of the Amiga computer
We got lots of little parts that were individual
NAND gates and registers wire wrapped them
together and try to get them running in order
to find out if the logic circuits that we
had drawn in paper actually work
Something as simple as an electrostatic shock
would wipe them out
And so they had them set up on this workbench
in the software lab but they put chairs that
forced you before you could approach the chips
to walk along a certain corridor where you
would step on the this electrostatic pad that
we had on the ground that would take electro
static electricity away from you so that you
wouldn't zap the chips
And anyone that got anywhere near the chips
had to step over this pad to get to the chip
So we had this little corridor like a like
an aisle down the centre of a church going
to the chips at the end
And even better than that these chips the
output of the chips we needed to make available
to everyone that was in the software lab where
we were
And so we had these massive cables that were
the the graphics and audio output of these
chips and we ran them up into the air and
then they draped across where the the electrostatic
pad was and went off to the rest of the the
software lab
But where they draped across the walkway it
kind of they draped down because it was loose
and it was made you kind of stoop a little
And so as you would approach these Amiga stacks
that were one day would be the Amiga computer
you were obliged to walk down this one corridor
and just as you got up to the stacks you had
to bow
You had to bow your head in order to get under
the wires and it was like this this religious
experience that you would go through to approach
the hardware
And little did we know at the time that it
was in fact quite a religious experience that
we were creating not only for ourselves but
for millions of people out there in the real
My part in that was I actually hand wired
the original two motherboards for the Amiga
I did get one working and that was the one
they use primarily to test the first set of
breadboard emulators for the chipset and that
was the one that we took down to one of the
major trade shows the Consumer Electronics
Show in Las Vegas
Everyone in the company worked their their
hearts out to get us to these trade shows
and to have not just the technology but the
best marketing presentation we could make
And oh the geniuses were there, the booth
we put together for CES was just remarkable
it was an amazing thing that had enough goodness
on the outside to inspire everyone
But if you were lucky enough to get an invitation
into the inner sanctum of where the actual
Amiga demo was going on then you were in for
a real treat because man that Amiga demo was
so cool
A lot of people who who saw the demo thought
that we must have a fairly large mini computer
or IBM mainframe in the next room emulating
the output they saw because they said you
can't do this and anything that would you
know fit inside a personal computer
Our sales and marketing team at at Amiga were
just overjoyed with the
success that we had and they decided they're
going to take us out and give us this amazing
dinner for for to celebrate the the fact that
we have had such an awesome first day at the
Consumer Electronics Show
And we did we eat a lot of spaghetti and drink
a lot of Chianti I suppose
But then after that Dale and I were talking
on our way back from the dinner and we realised
there was still so much more we could do
And that if the first day was a success the
second day could be even better if only we
worked a little bit harder
And so the two of us instead of going back
to our hotel rooms we went back to the CES
tradeshow and we talked the guards into letting
us get back into the booth
And the two of us sat down in that booth and
we stayed up all night long drinking warm
beer and working on the demos to make the
demos better so that on day two not only were
they great but there are even a little bit
greater than great
I mean added just a little bit more extra
pizzazz and wonder wonderment to them
Towards the end of the chips being fabricated
I think we actually got the chips back and
they all worked
Money was not available any more
Stories that later came out that both Dave
Morris and Jay miner took out mortgages in
there on their house I had only heard that
I was actually still working on 64 and plus/4
things and I was working with various companies
like Infocomm to help them port their stuff
to the C64 and the plus/4 and that they all
they all seemed to have a secret project going
with some unnamed computer company
Who you know the locked room type stuff and
while I was there hanging out with them there
were things that they would not talk about
Atari was in the process of losing two million
dollars a working day
And they I don't know how contacted dad somewhere
in the in his trip; I think he was in Singapore
or something like that
And said please come to New York we want
to talk to you about buying Atari
And Sam said we just bought Atari come
home, come home now
And that was an interesting transition; graduate
student in physics; honeymooner; vice president
of software for a fortune 500 company
I hate to say it but I've never pulled this
punch before the way that Atari did business
back then was miserable
I never abided by that way of thinking about
That way of cutthroat making money and and
throw people to the side, nothing matters
more than being successful at making money
I hated that
But they originally gave Amiga Computer money
as a cheque
It was not a great deal but it was an okay
deal and we were facing doom
Everyone was finally resigning themselves
to the fate that Atari was going to get it
our baby from us and then that we would all
be out of jobs and that that this thing that
we have dreamed of for all of those years
was was failing
And at the last moment when it seemed that
there was no hope left suddenly out of the
blue came Commodore to the rescue
And and Commodore found out what Atari was
offering us for the company and and Commodore
said oh we can do much better than that
they said
And they proposed a very nice rich dollar
amount for the company that sounded great
to all of us
It was this awesome moment of negotiation
where they they offered us you know I think
it was four four dollars or four and a quarter
or something I dont remember the exact
number now
But they Dave Morris our fearless leader turned
to all of us and said you know okay well
here's the offer do you accept it's better
than zero, it's better than Atari and everyone
that reported to him said yes sounds good
accept this deal
And then he turned back to Commodore and said,
no not quite enough we're going to have
to pass on your offer
And its like Oh my goodness
To have the courage to be to have a gun pointed
to your head like that and still say no to
the best offer you'd heard so far
But they offered him I think it was originally
four and they offered him four and a quarter
or something like that he said okay
and we and and the rest was history Commodore
bought the company and and and Ataris attempt
to get their hands on the technology was foiled
and and and Dave Morris returned the cheque
to Atari
I've heard recently that Atari still has that cheque
[laughs] I would like the cheque but even
just a photocopy would be lovely [laughs]
So I guess we have from we have Amiga Corporations
account number on the back there
So yeah half a million dollars March 7th 1984
to Amiga from Atari
I discovered that it was the Amiga and Commodore had just bought them
Folk at Atari; oh and this is presumption
I don't they didn't certainly didn't tell me
thought alright we'll fund these guys
and they'll make a nice machine except theyre
not be going to able to pay back
So if they don't pay us within six months
we own the technology
And Commodore infused our company with cash
and suddenly overnight we were productive
We had powerful, big computers that we could use
And we had mag tape drives built into the
computer so we could back up our work on a
nightly basis
And all this like miracle stuff happened that
made us more productive
Right after the purchase happened within less
than a month my group was actually sent out
to California to work with the Amiga guys
to get it ready for launch
We were doing things like printer drivers,
device drivers, application software, just
generally filling in where they were they
were light on people
They themselves embrace the Amiga as the next
generation that that Commodore needed to go in
And so was this match made in heaven where
oh it was great, the business was great,
the hardware was great, our development environments
became great
You had the development team in Los Gatos
who had created a product that they thought
would be a game machine
They could not produce it the price that it
would take to compete in the games market
And Commodore acquired the company because
they needed to move quickly into the next
generation of computers and you had all these
sales and marketing people on the East Coast
with totally different ideas
And it was quite a bit of friction
Amiga in California had this amazing technology
that just needed to have a little bit of the
low cost computer from Commodore and the high
tech technology from Amiga and put that together
to really come up with an amazing combination
Everybody in Los Gatos got to go to the launch
as a reward
We had this last-minute substitution of Graphicraft
Graphicraft Hat was a very early edition had
some bugs and one of the bugs that still wasnt
being tracked down was the flood fill
You could start a flood fill and it would
flood; you can fill the screen and then keep
going and fill the whole of the memory and
so it crashed the computer
And so you know during the demo was during
the training when Pariseau trained Andy Warhol
don't don't do the flood fill
And naturally during the demo, the live demo
he does the flood fill
And the rows of engineers we were all sitting
together you know we're right we were oh
no because we we knew this couldn't work
but somehow it did
It did not crash the machine and that's just
one of those miracles that happen
My first job was to make the PAL version of
the Amiga 1000 and so I had to I was the token
guy from Commodore in Westchester, Pennsylvania
They had to go talk to all the guys in Los
Gatos and say alright we got to make a PAL
video output from this computer because the
first Amiga was only NTSC
But revolutionary at the time was its multitasking
of the whole
A lot of the internal concepts, libraries,
devices and so on were just much more advanced
than most home computers had at that time
I'd heard about the the Amiga coming out and
I was like you've got the Developer Docs and
a photocopier I have to have them
The 128 was it was launched that summer and
then Amiga in the fall but I wanted to find
out about it
And you there were these green books you could
sign out you had to put your name on them
And yet they were had serial numbers and everything
because they didn't want this information
getting out
And Bil Herd got one and I think the the night
or maybe the night after Bil Herd got his
I stayed late and photocopied the whole thing
so I could learn it
Keep it going
This is awesome
Right, oh my god
Look at that
The waterfall right there in the corner
We live we have a little house in the town
This is not ready to be lived in yet
I see what youre saying, Okay
So I did everything you see, every single
Elevator goes down all three floors, if I
ever build the thing
Deal with the plans they said just you know
it it's too complicated so I said
okay I'll build a model and you can go by
that so I did
I built a model of whole thing and they took
the measurements during the quarter inch equals a foot
Everything in the model is actually to scale
and then I had it there in the house and a
bear got in before I had this door and destroyed it
So this was a bear that did that
He didnt like the design, I dont know
Yes but I did Defender of the Crown
on this, sitting in there
We made cedar boxes there either side of
the screen
And cold, so it heats and air conditions and
then it flows down into the lot with underground
five feet down where its always fifty-five
So heat and cool just for the price of the
So I flew to Commodore headquarters in Westchester,
Pennsylvania and grabbed one of the executives
and and I had a copy of my Saucer Tag game
which looked pretty pretty professional you
know I'd nice packaging and stuff
On the basis of that they gave me a developer
status on the Amiga
I still had to buy one, they didn't give me
an Amiga but they gave me all of the tools
that RJ and all the Dale Luck and everybody
had written in order to allow people to program
on the Amiga
And went home and and immediately started
doing graphics that neither I or anybody else
had ever seen before
I saw Defender of the Crown
it was as I remember it a full-colour spread
of the castle scene with a catapult of Defender
of the Crown and it blew my socks off
It was a complete game changer to see something
so beautiful, so artistic and almost photographic
from a computer was something that I had never
seen before
My mind was made up then I obviously needed
an Amiga
Defender of the Crown was was the scenario
was written by Kellyn Beck and he was he approached
Bob Jacob who was a producer at the time with
the idea of doing one of the first Amiga games
as a cinematic game based on the movie Ivanhoe
At that launch of the Amiga 1000 in Europe
was pretty amazing and that really started
it all
And because of those relationships I had both
with the factories and the vendors in the
Far East, the engineers in Westchester, Pennsylvania,
the engineers in Los Gatos, California and
all the customers for the Amiga in Europe
That's what brought me to the alignment of
the planets that got the Amiga 500 to say
okay let me see if I can get this to a
point where we can dramatically make a difference
in terms of the cost of this product and make
it available to a lot more people
Now I couldn't afford an Amiga 1000 but fortunately
Commodore did then a wonderful thing they
introduced the Amiga 500; which allowed my
mum to buy me one in 1987 I think it was
And what a wonderful machine the Amiga 500
was it brought the power of the Amiga to the masses
It really did create a software market;
a hardware market and brought wonderful technology
to the average person
Batman of course set the set the whole barometer
because it was a movie that was anticipated
probably like never before and probably never
since as that as that one particularly was
And I've got the most amazing respect for
ocean software having the guts to go along
with that idea but that's where that's where
the I mean the whole idea the concept is correct
something which is bigger than the sum of
the parts
And and we specifically had the Amiga as a
very small oh by the way there's an Amiga
in the Box
It wasn't about selling; if you remember I
came up with a concept from now on we don't
sell computers we sell dreams and that's
what we did and everything wed produce
was a dream
We had Dale luck come to Westchester we had
Bart Whitebook come to Westchester so you
know we didn't want to lose the software guys
but unfortunately couldnt help it
some people moved on
Theres a lot more to do on the on the Amiga
2000 because nothing had been done really
the the 500 I think at that point was pretty
close to finished
The lightning storm in Texas; the Lightning
came through the phone line and zapped my
Fortunately I had insurance so with the the
insurance money I purchased my first Amiga,
it was Amiga 2000
So you could see my progression to Amiga was
actually an act of God or at least that's
what it said in the insurance policy
No they did the sidecar for the A1000 but
they wanted to they wanted to make an Amiga
that would just take a regular PC card and
use slots that were like IBM slots
So they came up with this idea of the Amiga
2000, which at that time was really just the
A1000 design with the expansion board from
the Zorro added on to it
At the same time that I was working on the
Amiga 500 there was a team in Braunschweig
Germany building an Amiga 2000
Because really the 1000 was it was trying
to service two markets with one computer in
it it couldn't really do that too well
You know it's too expensive for the home and
not expandable enough for the for a serious
So you ended up with a 500 and 2000 and that
was really a pivotal step in the Amiga to
make that successful
So you had people like NewTek that made the
Video Toaster in the United States they could
do amazing things with a 2000 because now
they can plug a card in
And you had you know high school and college
kids that could afford to buy an Amiga and
get into programming or graphic design where
they couldn't do that before
I ended up getting getting a job at the Commodore
working for Andy Finkel initially
I had thought about cutting my hair before
that because I had long hair at the time
It's like you know I think I'm just going
to go down and see if they accept me as I
am and they did and so I I and Bryce Nesbitt
both started around the same time
When the 600 was introduced; by the way it
was supposed to be called the A300 because
it was supposed to cost less
And it turns out that the team of engineers
that they put on designing this cost reducing
the 600 couldn't out cost reduce Jeffs
500 so they ended up having to call that a 600
because it actually cost more
So and they still went into production with
it but so now you've got two computers that
are pretty much pretty similar right and how
do you how do you market that
And so the Germans saw this and they said
well why do we need a 600 when the 500
is cheaper and does at least as good a job?
When Mehdi made the decision that probably
put the final nail in the coffin of Commodore,
which was to launch the the 1200 with double
A but but not commit to enough chips to make
the entire production for Christmas be the
Instead he built like 300,000 old chips at
five hundreds and most of which stayed in
the warehouse because who wants to buy the
old machine when you can get the brand-new
machine with more colours and faster processor
and everything else
The 1200 wasn't actually available in volume
until like December and so you pretty much
missed the Christmas season
So if you introduced the 1200 in November
and you only had a limited supply you're only
going to frustrate people at Christmastime
that they can't buy the computer that they
really want to buy
A lot of things that were going wrong at all
at the same time in those days and it was
pretty it was pretty obvious to us all
It's just you know you're technology people
and you've sort of gotten along thinking that
every problem is solved by technology and
it's certainly not in that you know
The idea was that when we launched the CD32,
which was planned for the late spring early
summer of the following year they would have
had games that were written specifically for
And then he comes to me says I want to
launch the CD32 for Christmas and I fought
and fought and fought against it said are
you mad?
He said what's wrong with you?
I said first of all you're going to kill
the 1200
No don't be silly this is a completely
different product
Youre going to kill it I said but
not only that you're asking us to launch something
when there was no software written for it
and that is not good for us that wouldn't
that's crazy let's just keep it as we planned
I we need the money, we're in big financial
trouble, we need the extra sales
And I kept saying to him they're not going
to be extra sales; they may replace 1200 sales
but they're not going to be extra sales
he wouldn't listen
So Commodore had this nasty habit of announcing
bad news after the close of business on Friday
And in you know and so they announced their
bankruptcy after the close of business on
Friday while a good portion of us were at Mike Sinz
wedding and did not know that
You got to Randell's house and they had a
news article taped on the door so everyone
who went in would notice that you know note
that comma had gone out of business the night
We got a copy of the of the announcement that
was made to the worldwide press that's how
significant we weren't
We just got a copy the same as everybody else
did Commodore announces liquidation and
so on
And they hadnt even got the guts to pick
up the phone and say thanks for all your
help but you know it didn't work we you know
we're declaring bankruptcy
But there again you see I'm not surprised
about that I didn't have any regard for the
management I said apart from I had a fair
fondness for Irving Gould but I had no regard
for for the management side of Commodore International
And so I'm not surprised at how they handled things
I left before the end I was lucky I got out
whilst there were still severance money; my
stock options still had some value and not
only that but I left and went without paying
admission to the Software Publicists Association
And I went into a multimedia conference and
I was sitting in the audience; having been
multimedia personality the year in the UK
a few years before
And there's this panel discussion and that
moderator at the end of the panel says Gail,
we have the mother of multimedia application
sitting in the audience, Gail is there anything
you would like to say? and I thought oh
So I took a deep breath did one of the hardest
things I've ever done in my life I stood up
and said yes I'd like to say I'm looking
for a job and I got one
We were able to create a machine that was
low cost, so very powerful
Took the industry by storm for the longest
time was the video editing platform of the world
And that's what we wanted we wanted to create
a machine that anyone could use and that anyone
could afford; that anyone could understand
But it I didn't know that we would be as successful
as we were and how many millions of lives
we ended up touching with the thing that we
had created
And I often get emails from people who say
something like you know hi just wanted
to drop in and thank you for that Amiga computer
thing that you did; it would inspired me to
get a job in computer graphics or it inspired
me to get a job in commercial development
or game development
And I get these wonderful letters from people
that each and every one of them is like gold
to me
It's it validates what we believed from the
beginning that we could create a machine that
would open up people to new capabilities that
they they had
And to reveal to themselves the sorts of things
they might be able to do with their lives
And and and we were so successful at that
I'm delighted to say I'm I'm proud to say
that that that part of our mission we were
able to accomplish
I'm at Amiga 32 Germany and just bloody look
at it
How many people are here?
Its it's just absolutely crazy
They are still showing brand-new software
they are writing for a computer that I developed
34 years ago that I thought would merely be
a museum piece
And the gaming industry and the Amiga fans
have kept it alive in a way that I could have
never imagined
I think that that 8-bit sound is the musical
equivalent of candy
It speaks of childhood but it speaks of something
It speaks of a kind of uplifting, joyous celebration
of everything that childhood represents
It is safety, it is warmth and above all it's
Yes there has been quite a nice retro revival
over the last few years
There's constantly games being released and
you know like Steam and other platforms and
that recreate the vibe of the old days
Yes I some times look back and think if Id
have known this stuff was going to last this
long I'd probably have been taking it a bit
more seriously
This crazy room with 500 plus people here
in Germany
Thirty years later celebrating that amazing
computer and the technology that went into it
You'll have this purple, throbbing Amiga monster
in all your houses controlling everything
to get rid of these Macintoshes and these
PCs and and I-Pads and all that
Let's go back to the roots of Amiga
We started a YouTube channel called the Guru
Meditation named after the famous guru
meditation error you get when your Amiga crashes
and we have a sense of humour
My name is Mark Cale Im from system 3
What does Commodore mean to me? Well it means
passion and it was a life changer for us all
our best games came from the Commodore 64
and the Amiga
And they can look back and say oh I had
one of those or I wanted something like that'
so it's it's really fun for me
to be able to share what I have with everybody here
My name's Andy Spencer and Im Dean Payne
and we are the Retro Computer Museum
Next year March 2018 the home computer museum
will be open in Helmond, The Netherlands
Me and some friends even visiting the Amiga
30 in Mountain View California; because why not?
And then to England, Germany and everywhere
it was like crazy
Im that passionate about Commodore and
Amiga that I engraved my iPhone with the Amiga logo
Were currently in Cardiff in Wales attending
the A-EON DEVCON 2017
I'm hopeful of the work we're doing and the
work the community is doing as a whole
will ensure the future of the Amiga you know for
the next 10, 20, 30 years and I'm going to
make sure that my grandson knows about Amiga
and and actually will have his own
I'm here at revival 2017 the Rivals with Dave
Perry from Gamesmaster on stage behind me
I went onto the television shows and began
doing TV and to this day the Commodore Amiga
is still my favourite gaming machine
My time with the Commodore 64 was usually
at my friend's house
I used to go over there every day, every weekend
play some games
There was this lovely shiny, beige bread bin
sitting on the table with a few games
How little they knew what was going to happen
for the next thirty years hence
This is the 1541 ultimate II what you can
do with this is you can connect an SD card
or a USB flash drive to load Commodore 64 games
Yes I think right now we're looking at about
four thousand ultimate ultimate tools that
are now in the field so that's quite quite
They wanted to spend their fifty-pences and
two pounds and three pounds whatever
I can't remember how much these games were
And they they were they wanted to make this
device do something you know so that doesn't
exist today
I got my first Commodore 64 and it was the
first release of the 64C
So I had the slim line model and to begin
with that slim line model I still have and
it still works to this day
64 bytes is a series of short videos released
weekly that introduce a various aspect of
programming Commodore 64
I keep the actual C64 here for occasional
testing even though I do most of my development
on the modern computer
And I keep this old TV here because it actually
has a really blurry picture and so it's actually
helped me redefine some of the graphics
a little bit to make them a little easier to
This is where mega comes in
This is the original C65 as mentioned;
the one where Zed Yago demo was coded on
And this is what we have made it's basically the same
Hi everybody
Zach Weddington here; director of Viva Amiga
and I am on the set of the Commodore story
Billion to nothing and just about three
a strange kind of genius that Mehdi Ali
Because that was a billion dollar company;
three years down the tubes to nothing
We are looking back on the retro scene from
technology of 30 years ago but even today
the technology of tomorrow is being developed
And they're using the Amiga technology
And yes Im sat here with my Amiga PI, which
I built
It just shows you that what they did really
was truly something very special
Dont want some you know person walking
down the street with an Atari t-shirt and
you know breaking out into a fight with some
of the Commodore t-shirt that would be bad
Jack Buster's who ya gonna call is an
original Amiga t-shirt; very rare
This is actually from workbench 2.0
Computer people at that time were you know
had a bad sense of humour
This is the famous Commodore supports its floppys
So that trip that I mentioned, the 60th anniversary
of the clearing of the Lodz Ghetto
So there were my parents, my aunt and uncle,
my mother's sister's husband and a bunch of
that generations kids and then that generations
And there's a wonderful picture of us taken
in Birkenau at the end of the railway line
I am here at the National Museum of Computing,
which is located in the historic Block H of
Bletchley Park
So behind me is the Harwell Dekatron -
it's original name
It is now the world's oldest working computer
I'll be building a computer museum in my office
In the second story of my office there's a
platform that will have a Commodore 64 running
those games and several Amigas
I still have the original Amiga 1000 that
I did all the graphics for Defender of
the Crown on and it still works fine and
it's all the monitors and everything that go with it
I've got CD32s; I've got CDTVs; I've got Amiga 4000
Amiga 2000s, just everything And so those
will be lined up with all of their monitors
running in my little computer museum
I can, anytime I want a bit of nostalgia,
I can just go up to the second story and look
at that
Commodore indeed was a pioneering company
and changed many, many lives
including mine
The retro scene over the last few years seems
to be growing and growing
And you know all I want to say is you should
embrace your inner 8-bit and 16-bit passion
and continue on the retro ride
I'd like to dedicate this to my mom, without
her I wouldn't be here today