'

Commodore 64 celebrates 25th birthday

The Commodore 64 turned 25 this year, and its legacy was celebrated on Monday with an anniversary presentation at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley.

The Commodore 64 turned 25 this year, and its legacy was celebrated on Monday with an anniversary presentation at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley.

The Commodore 64 was released in September 1982 to a fledgling home computing market dominated by the Apple II, Atari 8-bit range and the IBM PC.

In its 12 year lifespan it is estimated that the C64 sold more than 20 million units. Its US$595 price tag was relatively cheap at a time when home computing was still considered to be an expensive hobby. Its price eventually fell to around US$200 as the company reduced its manufacturing costs.

In an interview with CNET.com's Daniel Terdiman, Commodore founder Jack Tramiel said: "The only difference was the price...if you sell something cheaper, it couldn't be as good. If it's more expensive, and it's the same product, that must be a better product. That didn't stop me. I still wanted to sell it for a low price."

Tramiel founded the company in 1977 under the slogan: "Computers for the masses, not the classes".

The C64 was a massive hit for gamers but it also ran a version of the BASIC programming language, licensed from Microsoft. Most users stored their programs and games on a specially designed cassette recorder but other peripherals -- such as a modem and floppy disk drive -- were also available.

Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, was another notable guest at the event, and was on hand for a panel discussion with Commodore's Tramiel moderated by New York Times journalist John Markoff.

Wozniak told the crowd that most young people who bought a C64 at the time "would have got an Apple II if they could afford it".

In an exchange showing that 25 years had done little to extinguish the rivalry between the two, Tramiel rebutted Wozniak's comment by saying: "We [Commodore] made machines for the masses, Apple made machines for the classes."