One day, somewhere in the second half of the 80s, my dad came home with that infamous bread bin and from that point on, things changed. I learned how to program in BASIC, even tapped direclty into the C64 core with some assembler code, which definitely was the foundation for me being a software engineer nowadays. Aside from the obvious educational purposes, having a computer with a 16 color display and a 6581 SID sound chip on board made it suitable for another, very pleasant, form of pasttime: gaming.
So yeah. When I wasn’t coding text based adventure games or retyping endless listings of BASIC code from an obscure German computer magazine, I was playing games. Loads of ported arcade classics from the early 80s, which were stored on cassette tapes. Loaded in a so called datasette (a cassette player that converted an analog signal into a digital data stream). Summoned to life with the legendary LOAD command. The datasette confirmed it understood LOAD with its PRESS PLAY ON TAPE message. Letting you wait with anticipation for its FOUND <GAME> response. Concluding the LOAD with its liberating READY.
Somewhat later, my need for extended storage capacity led to the purchase of the 1541 floppy disk drive. With it, even more awesome games could be played. Like The Last Ninja, Creatures, Skate or Die, California Games to name a few. Some were stored on multiple floppy disks. I quite early understood that the simple days with single screen platform games were over. Games would only get bigger, greater, more colorful from that time on. But better?
With the dawn of the 90s, my focus shifted from “home computer” to “personal computer”. It was the start of a new adventure, the start of an upgradable computing platform which could be assembled quite easily without the help of expensive engineers. The internet was starting to form and became accessible for the masses. It was the end of the Commodore 64. For that time at least.
One day, somewhere in the second half of the 00s, I think it was 2007, I suddenly started thinking about that beloved Commodore 64 again, and how it gained a central place in our living room decades ago. How it was able to create worlds to explore, to enable the ability to create entire worlds, or just to forget the real world for some time. I wanted to relive those moments again. So I started searching the internet. It took me quite a while to find out there was a very active community whose interest was the same as mine: to resurrect ancient hardware on modern computers. It seemed possible with so called emulators: software that runs on modern operating systems and simulates an entire computer, like the Commodore 64.
As you can imagine, I was ecstatic. Not only the Commodore 64 was available on my Pentium PC, but I also found out that every game I had ever owned and played had been converted to files that could be run by the emulation software. Of course, playing them again didn’t deliver quite the same experience as back in the days. The feeling I had when playing a game on a rainy afternoon or together with a friend after school just couldn’t be emulated. Times had changed. The way I looked at things had changed. Where I once saw a castle with a moat, brave knights and fair maidens, I now saw a rectangular shape with a line and some dots. Interesting! Material for another blog post.
Anyhow, I wanted to share my emulation discovery with the world. If I had trouble finding information about how to play classic C64 games, a lot of other people might as well! And there it was: a detailed page about the CCS64 emulator, how to install it, how to configure it and how to use it. I was on the roll! What about DOS games? Could those be played on modern operating systems?