Not Quite My Own C64

My first computer was a Commodore 64. Way before I had my own though, I had access to one at the local public computer lab—aka, K-Mart. The local library had a few C64 magazines full of BASIC programs ready to be typed out, but magazines, for some reason, could not be loaned. I can’t clearly remember, but I think there was also a rule against them being photocopied. Otherwise why would I, as I clearly remember, have spent hours copying these programs by hand into an exercise book? Maybe I just didn’t have enough money.

After I’d got one down and more or less checked, I rode my embarrassingly non-BMX bike to K-Mart, where I stood for hours typing away on the display machine. It seems strange now, but I don’t remember anyone ever asking me to move on or stop what I was doing. The majority of the programs I tried out threw up a SYNTAX ERROR, caused either by my hunt-and-bash typing, poor copying, or the frequent flaws in the magazine text.

Sometimes, though, they worked, and when they did it was like hitting a home run. I had no way to save these programs, though, so when I was done I had no choice but to just walk away, leaving them to be wiped when the power was shut off for the night.

Published on Thursday, December 31 2020