May 16, 2000

Commodore 64, my first computer

I was in India earlier this month. Ma was moving house and she threatened to throw out all my old stuff if I didn’t show up (I hadn’t been home in two years). So, there I was — sorting stuff into what to throw and what to keep. It is the hardest thing. Every obeject, every book, brings back some memories. In this one box full of cockroaches, I found my Commodore 64 — The very first computer I ever owned.

There was this flashback.

Bombay. The 1980’s. Every night, we would watch a horror movies or two on video. After that, we would type in some code and make a game on the Commodore. Just before the day break, we would go upto the roof of the apartmanets and sit on a ledge, wondering what the future will bring. The reverie was broken by this one cockroach that started walking up my hand. I cleaned up the computer and connected it to the TV. I almost expected it to explode. Amazing!! It still worked. I typed in a short BASIC program, the same little program I typed into it the very first time I unpacked it.

There days I build mini games using Flash. Building a Flash application is in some ways like programming on the Commodore. Commodore had only 64K of memory. Writing good code was a necessity. That said, Commodore 64 was an amazing machine. Commodore sold 20 odd million of these. It had great sound and graphics. People created some really amazing stuff on it. I sometimes use the Frodo C-64 emulator to demonstrate some basic programming concepts. Another similarity with Flash was the concept of Sprites. Sprites were programmable graphics a lot like Flash Movie Clips”.

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