So we are going to be reading an essay on next week that deals with a line of code for the Commodore 64 and the way in which that code expresses itself as “art.” I had a Commodore 64 as child and it was my very first computer. I learned how to program in BASIC and I have very fond memories of the system. I dug out some of my old manuals (both programming and gaming) and I’ve been having a blast reliving some of the nostalgia from a bygone era.
Watch out–whatever you do, don’t use the “Scratch” command unless you really mean it! As I recall, the Scratch command erased the data on your disk. It also made a really, bloody awful noise in the process as if it was eating your disk. As I also recall, the big beige box was also a pretty noisy beast under the best of circumstances, whirring and chunking and clunking away.
That’s right–cassette tapes could be used for more than music back in the day. Most people didn’t realize that cassette tapes could also hold data (0s and 1s) that the computer could magnetize on to the tape and read it back. The tape drive didn’t last long in the product cycle, however. It was too bloody slow. Loading in all but the simplest programs meant sometimes a four to five minute wait–heaven help you if it was a game you wanted to play–you could pretty much double that time frame in some instances. We howl today if a game’s level take longer than 15-30 seconds to load.