The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'jeri ellsworth'
Not that long ago, a joystick-shaped device named the C64 DTV, containing a Commodore 64-compatible computer (developed by Jeri Ellsworth, who also created the C-One super-C64) and 30 games, appeared on the market. Hackers who bought these are now opening them up and adding things to them; for one, it is possible solder on a PS2 keyboard (unlike the original C64, this one speaks the PS2 keyboard protocol) and, indeed, a standard Commodore serial bus connector for plugging in a drive (photos here); alternatively, one can embed a DTV inside a working Commodore floppy drive. With a keyboard and storage, the diminutive box (costing US$20, or about 3 times as much in the UK) becomes a fully usable Commodore 64, except for a few additional augmentations, such as a video chip capable of 256 colours. And there is more information on undocumented features of the DTV here.
Following a few links from the C-One Commodore 64-of-the-future project, I discovered that it is by no means the only such project, and merely the tip of the iceberg. There is an entire subculture of people (mostly in northern and central Europe, it seems) hacking Commodore 64s to do things they were never meant to, and developing all sorts of odd artefacts; such as The SuperCPU, which appears to be a 20MHz replacement CPU for the C64 with extra PC-style RAM; people are writing demos, games (and modifications to cracked commercial games) and even operating systems for it. And you can top it all off with an IDE interface which plugs into your C64's cartridge slot.
The Commodore 64 is coming back to conquer the world. Meet the C-One, a Commodore 64 for the new millennium. And this is not some crappy 486 Windows PC with a 64 emulator bundled; this is an ATX motherboard with 65C816 CPU (that's the 16-bit 6502-derivative used in the Apple IIgs), reengineered VIC/SID-compatible chips with enhanced capabilities (sprites can be up to 256x256, and the MonsterSID chip has 8-bit sample playback; perfect for retro-styled electronica). It will come with 32Mb of RAM (that's the equivalent of 512 C64s), IDE and PCI interfaces, a CompactFlash slot for mass storage (I wonder if they'll make it look like a really big 1541?), as well as a C64 cartridge slot and disk drive/printer serial connector, and a BeBox-style "geek port" to plug your homemade robots/model train set/whatever into. No Datasette port though, so you'll have to import your old tapes some other way. The motherboard appears to be for sale here, costing €249 (about A$400, I think). (via Slashdot)
(Mind you, this will probably be less compatible than a software-based C64 emulator, because I doubt that the 65C816 supports the "undocumented" 6510 opcodes that some games/demos use in their mad rush for optimisation. And I wonder how they got memory banks (another custom feature of the 6510) working.)
But wait, there's more; according to this Slashdot comment, the basic design could easily be modified (by changing the CPU and glue logic) to be not just a C64 for the new millennium, but a new, improved VIC-20, or the most arse-kicking Atari 2600 ever built; or as a basis for developing your own bizarre Frankensteinian computer experiments.
The C-One aims at those who are into computer nostalgia, as well as those who want it for educational purpose. We'll supply all kinds of material for you to start VHDL programming, and instantly try it out on this board. Start modifying the board without soldering, extend the capabilities of your video output, or even switch to a completely different computer on the fly.
Update: Another page containing a lot of technical details of the C-One. Apparently (a) it's all done with FPGA chips, and people are already writing operating systems for it. (Check out the screenshots of that one; it looks like a cross between Windows 95, Commodore 64 GEOS and one of the weird, quasi-Mac-inspired GUIs that existed a decade ego.)