C64 Forever: Relive the golden days of the Commodore 64 without the hardware headaches

C64 Forever: Relive the golden days of the Commodore 64 without the hardware headaches

C64 Forever features the same multi-tabbed media center interface used by Amiga Forever

Commodore 64 fans who want to take a stroll down memory lane should take a peek at Cloanto's emulator C64 Forever ($US15 for download, $US20 for standalone; free demo).

C64 Forever features the same multi-tabbed media center interface used by Amiga Forever. An enormous collection of classic games, over 100, are featured, including Arkanoid, Lotus Turbo Challenge, Frogger and other old friends from your childhood. Equally impressive are the demoscene selections, which remain astounding feats of programming acumen. A player-explorable, Wolfenstein-style 3D textured maze coded by Oxyron is my favorite.

Under the hood is the legendary VICE emulation engine. In development for 19 years, VICE has long been the gold standard for 8-bit Commodore diehards. The list of emulated systems goes up to 11, with all C64 variants as well as the Vic-20, the PET and CBM's business-class CP/M machines represented. Even GEOS, the rudimentary graphical OS shell, is included along with its application suite. All of the emulated systems are stable, but the C64 and Vic-20 are particularly rock solid, and have often been used in coding competitions in lieu of the actual hardware.

A small library of PDFs, including articles from Compute magazine and the SID chip patent, advertising jpegs and a highly entertaining MP3 recorded from a tutorial cassette that shipped with the C64 Toolbox back in the 1980's are included.

As with their Amiga product, Cloanto could add a bit more to this section. Back issues of C64 magazines, old commercials (Bill Shatner, anyone?), promo flyers, more recordings -- there's a ton of it out there, and these items add a lot to the charm of the experience. More would be welcome.

There's a lot of revisionist history going on these days about the golden age of personal computing, but I was there, so I can set the record straight. Sure, a few friends had Apple systems back in the early 80's. I also recall the occasional TRS-80. There were a smattering of Atari systems in my neighborhood, and a lone Timex Sinclair. One neighbor had a proper IBM PC, green screen and all, sitting in his den.

There was no real competition, however. The early days of computing had a winner, and it was the Commodore 64. With almost 17 million units sold, it remains the most popular computer ever created, outnumbering all of its contemporaries combined. It was this astronomical success that gave birth to the personal computer industry as we know it today. Commodore's ignominious death left a gap quickly filled during the tech boom of the 90's, but lovers of computing's own Tin Lizzy have never given her up.

More technically minded users might be tempted to just download VICE, which is free, but the cost for C64 Forever is low considering the amount of entertainment provided.

Cloanto has corralled the old software, configured it, given you screenshots, reviews and descriptions and wrapped it up in a nice, single-button package. So, in that sense, Cloanto has hit a home run with the C64 Forever emulator.

Note: The "Try it for free" button on the Product Information page takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.

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