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The Commodore 64c

Pete Brown - 24 September 2010

I'm doing the unthinkable: I've bought a couple Commodore 64c computers to take apart for parts for experiments. In particular, I'm after the late-model SID chip for some Netduino projects. The early model chip was 12v and ran really hot. The late model MOS 8580 sounds a bit different, but was also more reliable and ran cooler at a lower voltage. I need a bunch of these, and they are getting harder to find (some of the ones on ebay are counterfeit forged chip packages with something completely different inside)

The C64 has a dear place in my heart; mind you, I owned a C128, so that's what really tugs, and what I refuse to destroy, but the C64c was the sexy late-model replacement for the breadbox.

I've looked inside the old breadbox C64s before, but I've never cracked open a C64c. Once I removed the keyboard and all the RF shielding/heatsink, this is what I found:


If I am reading things correctly, it looks like this model is from December 1988 (going by the code at the bottom and the yellow sticker on the cartridge port). The sticker on the bottom said it was factory reconditioned; not sure which part(s) they replaced.

When the modified the board from the original C64 to the late model, the chip count was generally reduced, especially in the 64k bank of memory. Rather than 8 or so chips, it looks like the count was reduced to 2.

This motherboard may not seem small in an age of Netduinos, netbooks, and multi-ghz mobile devices, but at the time, such a compact unit was a revolution; especially if you ever looked at those same-era IBM motherboards. Remember, this has everything (video card, memory, CPU, device bus, joystick controllers etc.) except for the power supply, all right in this small keyboard-sized package about the size of a big laptop. All through-hole hand-soldered (no miniaturized surface mount tech here). I've seen hobby projects with more complex boards. Impressive.

posted by Pete Brown on Friday, September 24, 2010
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