Personal Computer Museum

Commodore 64

Commodore 64

Speed1 MHz
Memory64 KB

What's this?

Flash is required to use this audio.


Commodore 64

Release Date: 1/1/1982
Manufacturer: Commodore
Original Retail Price:
Adjusted Inflation Price:
To date, this machine has sold over 30 million units, making it the single most successful computer of all time. The 64 was the successor of the VIC-20 and in North America, was expected to sell primarily with a cassette drive for storage. The disk drive (1541) was expensive but people preferred the speed and the drive sold in equally staggering numbers (in the UK, tape still ruled because of the lower cost). The C64 sold for over 11 years making it the most prolific computing device ever manufactured. Running a 1MHz 6510 processor, the 64 also had a great audio chip (called SID) that made games and music software very popular on the system.

Check out the audio link which plays "Daisy Bell" featured in the Commodore 64 demo by Broken Limits. The tune is actually composed using the mechanics of the 1541 disk drive.


There is some additional information available about this computer.


This computer is currently interactive in the Museum.

Commodore 1541 Disk Drive

Commodore 1541 Disk Drive
Release Date: 1/1/1982
Original Retail Price: $399.95
The Commodore 1541 was the most popular disk drive manufactured for the Commodore 64. It was the successor to the 1540 drive (intended for the VIC-20) and actually was a small computer in itself. The DOS (Disk Operating System) resides inside the 1541 and it actually contains a MOS 6502 processor (essentially the same processor inside the C64 itself).

The disk drive used Group Code Recording (GCR). The number of sectors per track varied from 17 to 21 (an early implementation of Zone Bit Recording). The drive's built-in disk operating system was CBM DOS 2.6.

The drive has been criticized as being extremely slow, for reasons that are explained in the book On the Edge: the Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore by Brian Bagnall.

The capacity of the drive is 170 KB per side and it was common for the drive to go out of alignment. The speed problem was partially addressed by a bunch of different "fast load" cartridges and software solutions, with the Epyx Fast Load being the most popular.

User Comments
Anonymous on Friday, August 14, 2015
One of my favorite computers of all-time. Dubbed "Apple II killer" by Jack Trammiel as his specification requirement was for a low-cost 64Kb computer, 40-column text with color and built-in keyboard that could be easily hooked up to standard NTSC TV like Apple II+ in America. Some ideas were expanded upon from Atari 8-bit computers such as a dedicated 'sprite' graphics chip in C64 as "VIC-II (Video Interface Chip II)" and audio chip as C64 "SID (Sound Interface Device)". Both made the computer legendary in demo-scene and early musicians. Cheapest Commodore 64s substituted disk drive for a slower cassette drive and TV could be used as a monitor via built-in RF modulator. The biggest drawbacks I encountered of first Model 1541 5.25" floppy disk drives was heads frequently going out of alignment later models remedied this, overheating was also common and weirdest decision to use a serial cable over a single wire (not two in parallel) for data transfers made for slow drives, thankfully Epyx Fastloader helped ease that pain. Improved Commodore 64C was the best C64 ever!
Branko on Thursday, May 30, 2013
I bought one in January 1985 from the PX. The 64 was $299.00 as I recall. I then bought the monitor, disk drive, datasett, printer, and related cables. I used it at work, I was a supply sergeant at the time, and did inventory reports and correspondence within the unit. I used it for four years when at that time I was given an old CPM machine that came out of Ft Harrison. The only problem I had with the computer was he disk drive broke while under warranty. I purchased a program called Side Ways that changed the print layout from portrait to landscape so you could print 80 columns. It was recommended to use four 38 special cases to raise the disk drive off the surface of your desk to allow better cooling. It was also recommended to super glue a piece of alumn pop can on the chip to act as a heat sink. Both recommendations worked. I had several games on disk and ram cartridge. My three favorite were Aliens, Gunship 2000, and Super Huey. I had purchased separate joy sticks that looked like the later issued flight control ticks. On all three the action was fast, the game images were lacking, but were comparable to games of their day. All in all the Commodore 64 was a great first computer. I still have mine in storage somewhere in the basement. Oh, the computer dealer that worked on my disk drive had an almost new 64 for sale a few years ago. Included the original box. He specialized in Commodore and Amiga computers when everyone else was pushing early IBM and Compac.
Ross on Saturday, November 26, 2011
How good was Elite as well; loved that game - played a million hours of that one. And Bards tale - dug that.
frank on Saturday, March 26, 2011
i just picked one of these systems up at a yard sale.It had everything but the screen .I want to know how much they are going for with out the screen?And how much is it worth with the screen
SS on Saturday, January 08, 2011
I somehow discovered that you can use a Sega Genesis controller as a gamepad for this glorious machine. The d-pad works great, but the rest of the buttons all do the exact same thing (which is odd, I'd have thought only one of them would have worked). Curiosity got the best of me, and the joystick for this does work on a Sega Genesis, though the button only operates the B button if I remember correctly. The game pad made playing California Games (at least the first half, since the other disc was chewed up) an interesting experience.
View all 15 comments
View top 5 comments
Have a comment about this Computer (personal stories, additional information)? Post it here (no registration required).

Share |

* Inflation data courtesy of Values are approximate using our own calculations.