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==  The C65                                          By:  Jason Compton  ==

In the happy days of Commodore, when all was right with the world and the
masses were buying 64s like mad, Commodore decided that the 64 wouldn't
last forever and that they needed new, bold machines to take them into the

The May, 1984 issue of Ahoy! magazine outlines the 264 and 364 machines
(and features quotes from Irving Gould on the monstrous success of the
64).  The 264 hit the market as the +4, and its younger, stupid cousin,
the 216, became the 16.  Both were sufficient departures from the 64
architecture to make them pointless to buy, and they failed miserably.

The 364 was designed with voice synthesis and even more built-in software
than the +4, but never hit market.

Of course, around this time Commodore bought out Amiga, so the low-end 8
bit market wasn't all that important anymore.

Well, sort of.  Around 1988-1989, someone decided that it wouldn't be such
a bad idea to try to pick up some more money in the low-end.  Thus was
born the 65 (or 64DX, depending on what you're reading.)

The machine was to be, in many ways, a large departure from standard 64
architecture.  It was developed in part by the same people working on
Amigas, made evident by the similar PCB layout, case construction, and the
leading names on the motherboard, "FISH/NINES".

So, what is it?  Well, a mega-64, really.  It has a 3.5mhz 6502-ish
processor, a DMA engine, a built-in 3.5 inch floppy (cleverly mounted in
the front of the one-piece machine, creating a drink ledge), 4 cursor
keys, and rather nice screen resolutions (320x200x256 up to 1280x400x2). 
128k ram standard, with space for memory expansion (trap-door, up to 8
megs with bank switching!)  Dual SIDs for stereo sound, a cartridge port,
"user port", two types of serial port, and RGB, RF, and "64-ish video
port" out.  And, of course, a 64-fallback emulation mode.

Development lasted until around 1991.  Only "pre-alpha" models were built.
Mine is serial #76.  Some of the units belong to former C= staff, others
were sold to Grapevine Group a little over a year ago in C= US'
warehouse-cleaning sale to raise money, and the rest were sold in the
Commodore US liquidation auction in September.

So, what happened?  Why was it never built?  Well, all sorts of
explanations are possible.  First off, it's unclear whether the 65 was a
really bad idea finally recognized for what it was when it was cancelled,
or a really good idea cancelled by idiots.  While the wisdom of developing
a new 8-bit machine in the late 80s can be questioned, the 65 would have
been a formidable computer if it had been completed.  And, 1991 roughly
marked the advent of Bill Sydnes, He Whose Name Is Associated With Evil in
Commodore Engineering.

At any rate, the 65 is certainly not the most popular platform on the face
of the planet-some demo disks exist, and other owners have taken to writing
software for the small elite club that exists.  The machine itself is PAL
(wow, demos look much nicer here now), but the 64 emulation is not 100% by
any stretch, there is no easy way to disable the internal drive (which
completely throws off copy-protected software) and Basic 10.0 for the 65
side is VERY incomplete, with loads of ?Unimplemented Command errors.

For a Commodore closet item, though, it certainly has character.