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Metal Jesus

Here’s why the Commodore SX-64 was a $1,000 FAILURE…& why GAMERS still want it

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Here are the features and quirks of the Commodore SX-64 - the worlds first color portable computer. And it just happens to be a GREAT gaming machine too!

 

This is a brand new video I released in the style of Doug Demuro, who famously covers features and quirks of sports cars on YouTube. The SX-64 may not be a 70s Italian sports car, but it certainly has it's share of hilarious quirks!

 

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I got mine in 1990 while I was in high school.  Paid $250 for it.  Loved it then, still love it now -- enough to pick up a couple more units to experiment with :)

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1 minute ago, OLD CS1 said:

Loved it then, still love it now -- enough to pick up a couple more units to experiment with :)

 

Yeah, I gotta get a keyboard replacement. It was driving me NUTS when making this video...

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I passed up so many of those in the early 2000's.   No one really wanted them at the time and you could get them for almost nothing (like $50 or so).  I never picked on up because I had a full sized C-64 and didn't see the point of trying to game on such a tiny screen.  Still don't really.

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7 minutes ago, Metal Jesus said:

 

Yeah, I gotta get a keyboard replacement. It was driving me NUTS when making this video...

 

BTW, thanks for the video.  Here are some thoughts:

  • Fortunately none of my keyboard have suffered the sticky problem.  The only problem I have ever had is the connector, for which I have replacement cables.  I damaged my first cable by leaving it connected to the keyboard.  It got wrenched by the handle.
  • I stored floppy disks in mine by putting them in sideways.
  • WarpSpeed works perfectly on my SX.  Do not recall ever trying FastLoad.
  • Speaking of graphical interfaces, I used GEOS 2.0 on mine with fairly usable results, also used an REU on it.
  • Dude!  No sound demo?  No SID Player?

 

BTW, thanks for telling people they need one now... maybe I can sell one of mine for a little dosh.

 

Oh, and regarding its weight: I was about a buck-50 lugging mine through airports in 1991.  Security was very interested in it.  Hilarious :D

 

6 minutes ago, Tempest said:

I passed up so many of those in the early 2000's.   No one really wanted them at the time and you could get them for almost nothing (like $50 or so).  I never picked on up because I had a full sized C-64 and didn't see the point of trying to game on such a tiny screen.  Still don't really.

 

Try it.  You might be surprised.  At one time it was my only computer as my desktop 64 crapped out and I could not get replacement parts.  The screen is actually very good quality and even Novaterm's 80 column mode is usable.

 

I used mine in on several trips I made '90 and '91.  It was extremely handy as during the time I was writing 64 software, so between BASIC, WarpSpeed's built-in monitor, and TSDS-64, this "little" luggable had everything I needed.  On a trip to visit family I toted a 1581 along with me.

 

Around '93-ish I set up a place for my SX in the back seat of my car along with a Radio Shack 110v inverter for a portable "hacking" station with a MiniModem C24.  The SX ran fine on the inverter, but the TOD clock would not function properly nor would anything which relied on it.  I assume this is because of the non-sinusoidal inverter output waveform.

 

I replaced the SX with my Amiga 500 a few years later for a short time.  My Amiga tolerated the inverter, but I needed two to run the Amiga and a monitor, or one really expensive one which I could not afford.  My car battery did not tolerate two inverters so well, so I wound up replacing them with a roll-up extension cord stashed in the trunk.  The Amiga setup did not last long as I abandoned the mobile station idea.  (I wonder if I still have photos of this gear somewhere...)

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2 minutes ago, OLD CS1 said:

 

  • Dude!  No sound demo?  No SID Player?

 

 

Sadly I have to be VERY CAREFUL with music and sound effects on YouTube or I can get a copyright claim...even on something as old as this. The audio pattern matching is easy to abuse and 3rd party copyright holders do it all the time. I was even being a little risky using the Spy Hunter audio in this video, but I had my drumbeat underneath to hopefully mask it. It's stupid, I know...but every content creator deals with this crap unfortunately. 

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Just now, OLD CS1 said:

I shall withhold my comments regarding YouTube and just say again, thanks :)

LOL

 

I love YouTube...and other times, not so much ;)

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3 hours ago, Metal Jesus said:

Sadly I have to be VERY CAREFUL with music and sound effects on YouTube or I can get a copyright claim...

Surely if you have a sound clip of some Johann Sebastian Bach rendered on the SID, there is noone to hold copyright for that? Well, possibly Commodore Business Machines or whichever entry nowadays holds the rights to the small IP library actually released by Commodore themselves, but I suppose copyright claims on YouTube mainly origin from music publishers and record companies?

 

I don't know what the state is for original musics e.g. from the demo scene, though I would find it unlikely that any demo group would actively be seeking unauthorized use of audio and video from their demos.

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4 minutes ago, carlsson said:

Surely if you have a sound clip of some Johann Sebastian Bach rendered on the SID, there is noone to hold copyright for that?

 

The problem is... anybody can potentially claim the copyright and they do! For instance you could have a small local television show do a piece on horses or something random like that, but they use that piece of music in their bit. Ken Burns does a documentary on Commodore. Dateline uses a snippet, whatever. They upload it. Copyright the video... and now anything that matches going forward is instantly pushed back on me to prove I have the right to use it. Now, you hope they give up the claim (and many do but not all)...but it's still lost revenue, a hassle ...and if they refuse, you risk a STRIKE. Three copyright strikes on YouTube and your channel is taken down forever. Most people wouldn't even risk it.

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Hm.. seems very bizarre that music compositions that no longer has a copyright in the real world, can be soundalike copyrighted in the YouTube world. Exact recordings yes but a different rendering. So you're basically saying that anyone can put copyright claims on all classical music compositions from the 15th century to early 20th century, and thus effectively blocking everyone else from performing those pieces and upload their own recordings unless they want to risk copyright strikes?

 

That means only explicetely royalty free stock music and possibly own compositions - which also can be disputed to steal from other works, see Katy Perry vs almost unheard of Flame just recently - in the long run can be used to fully keep rights and monetazion on your videos. I'm not a YouTuber per se so I never considered those matters, but it is an interesting development.

 

In the practical field, I know that back when we made the Veni Vidi VIC! demo for the 16K VIC-20, the music was made by me and a friend, Jonas Hultén. His rendering of Popcorn was so accurate that once someone uploaded a recording of the demo, YouTube silenced that demo part due to copyright claims, playing the other parts of the video. Since then, I have made a fair number of other covers on the VIC-20 but none of those have been silenced, probably because I'm a such lousy chip musician that the algorithms can't determine what it is supposed to sound like so they don't detect it, even without background noise... :-D

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Right... much like the legal system the problem is not so much YouTube or its system, but those who abuse it.  But, unfortunately, the YouTube system does not have repercussions for abuse the same way abusing the legal system can have.

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By the way that reference to a TV program about horses reminds me of the music back story for Harvey Smith Showjumper (Software Projects 1985). As it turns out, Rob Hubbard had composed a cool song based on A Musical Joke by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which by then was well into the public domain. However BBC at that time had a TV program called Show Jumping which happened to use that Mozart piece as the signature theme, and Software Projects were worried about licensing issues and that they possibly would get sued by BBC, so that is why Colin Porch instead made a straightforward version of Horn Concerto No. 4 in Eb Major, also by Mozart but which wasn't (to my knowledge) used in any TV program about horses so it was more safe to use.

 

Sure, that was a slightly different case since the BBC show predated the computer game so there was strong evidence that the choice of using a fairly uncommon Mozart piece was based on the wanted likeliness to the TV program, unlike the scenario discussed above when someone would've uploaded a YouTube video with a SID version of a Mozart piece and then someone else would use the same piece of music (in a different arrangement) and claim soundalike copyright on poor Wolfgang Amadeus works, 300 years after he wrote them.

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I had an SX for years.  Dad bought it new at the same time as our breadbin and used it at work.  It came home after years, and the disk drive lasted longer than the stand alone 1541, so I used it all the time up until about 1995 or 96.  After that it got put away, I went to college and other things. When I finally got it out like 20 years later it wasn't working.  I gave it to another collector on the condition that he would take ALL of my Commodore stuff for $20 (and he did).  I used to keep up with that guy.  He was trying to fix it and is on the boards here @98PaceCar

 

For the record, I don't really miss the SX.  I have more than one working breadbin now that are great including one that is JiffyDos modded.  If I want portability, I'll just use VICE on my laptop.

 

Oh and I remember using the FastLoad cartridge all the time, but it was so long ago, I guess it is possible that it was only in the breadbin.

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I have planned for a long time to "upgrade" the CRT in my SX with an LCD screen.  That alone would help with some of the weight, but mostly heat and provide a lot of free space inside for anything else.  I found a couple of potential replacements which can handle the video signal from the system, but it is one of those which has an OSD and I have to get over my hangup that it displays the current source when powering on -- I have consoled myself with the idea that this will show the screen, at least, is working, but I could also use it with external video inputs.

 

Another thing I would like to do is hollow out the power supply on the bottom/back, which is a large part of the weight, and replace it with a more modern power source.  The 9V AC requirement throws things but I have considered a circuit like what Jens used on the 64Reloaded.

 

Another considered upgrade, which has been done by a few people, is an internal 1581.  The problem I have with these other upgrades is they just look horrible.  One used the actual face place for the 1581, which is beige, so you have this beige sore thumb in the otherwise all chocolate-like colored facade.  With my resin printer I think I can print a reasonably-colored face plate, not to mention any necessary mounting brackets, and the results should look very nice (though, at least at first, I will not be able to replicate the texturing on the face of the 1541-SX.)

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I love my SX-64, but one of the hinges (or whatever you call it) holding the arm onto the unit is broken.  Any idea where I can get a replacement? 

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A guy I used to know had one of these when they were first released - even now I still think it was an incredible piece of work. Has anyone ever done a tear down of one? Curious how the internals are compared to a C64.

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Gads - years ago (1995/2000 range?) I did a few things for my brother, computer wise, and as 'payment' he gave me this CX-64 that he'd picked up at a rummage sale in Florida for like $5-10.  I tried it out and the only thing I could find wrong with it were the 'hinges' on the folding stand(?) which i fixed pretty well.  It was also missing a blue sticker on the carry / folding arm  - did't fix that.

 

 

The rest is history - it sets in another room 'filled' with a dozen or so working commodores / amigos - THAT I NEED TO GET OUT TO THE MASSES - as soon as I retire!

 

Jeff31

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Yeah, the locking hinges tend to be broken pretty easily.  I do not recall ever seeing a tear-down of one in video, though I have seen a couple of sites with pictorials.  Maybe one day I can get around to doing one, along with the other bazillion things in my "want to do" list.

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6 minutes ago, Great Hierophant said:

This video explains why classical music by composers who have been dead for centuries can sometimes be copyrighted

 

Bloody hell, he's annoying to listen to.

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