Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Reliving My Youth

The Commodore 64, with its iconic beige case and built-in keyboard, is coming back. If—like me—you're a geek of a certain age, the thought makes your heart beat a little faster; you almost certainly remember the C64 and might have had one yourself. I still have mine, although it's been sitting out in the garage for years now and is probably infested with spiders.

I remember bringing it home from Target (the one I still shop at) on a Saturday evening. I felt like a new parent bringing the baby home from the hospital. I started out small, just the basic unit and the standalone floppy disk drive, but the Commodore-brand monitor soon followed (no more hooking up to the TV set!), then the 300-baud modem. When Quantum Link (the precursor to America Online) became available, I upgraded to a 1200-baud modem and felt like I was flying. I'd used CompuServe a few times but QLink was different, cooler. I participated in some of the user forums (known collectively as "People Connection") and exchanged emails with folks I met there, although I don't think I knew anybody IRL (in real life) who used the service. In the age before emoticons ("smilies") were common, I discovered how easily hastily-typed messages can be misinterpreted, and I learned to read and write more thoughtfully. I spent a memorable, though largely sleepless, couple of weeks playing my way through the Neuromancer video game from Interplay...the first and last time I allowed myself to become that thoroughly engrossed in any game. I can hear the soundtrack (by Devo) in my head now.

The CNET article says that "Commodore doesn't seem to have given any clues as to when it will release the new computer." Damn, I've been overcome by a wave of nostalgia but I hate waiting. Does anybody know how to get spiders out of a floppy disk drive?

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