The C64 Banner Exchange
The C64 Banner Exchange

As the era of the C64 can nowadays be called historical, and fewer and fewer people really know what it is all about I take the chance to explain some general terms here. Allow me to do this in the form of an interview or questions & answers as I mostly find this quite entertaining to read.

Q: So what is this whole site about? I don't get it!
A: It's about the Commodore C64 and the demos that were programmed for it.
Q: What's a Commodore C64 again? I think I have already heard of that, wasn't that one of those old crap computers with the baby-games?
A: The Commodore 64 is an 8 bit computer that started selling in 1982 and went out of production in april of 1994.
It's got a poor graphic resolution of 160x200 in multicolor mode or 320x200 in hires mode with a fixed color palette containing the incredible amount of 16 colours. This is equivalent to 4 bit colourdepth.
Sound is produced by a 3 channel audio chip, the infamous MOS6581 or, in a later revision of the C64 by the MOS8580. It's also called SID chip (sound interface device) and a piece of music composed for this chip is called SID tune.
The C64 is clocked at the incredibly low frequency of 1 MHz (no, I don't mean the frontside bus, there's nothing like that for the C64).
To make it really bad it only has 64 KB of RAM of which even less was available for programming, you know, the kernel, charset and so on need some bytes, too.
One disk (the big ones with 5 1/4", you remember?) holds about 170 KB of data which is transferred to the RAM at the incredibly low speed of about 5 Kb per second. Most modems can do more...
And the rumor that the games back then were poor compared to nowadays standards has absolutely to be disproved. Maybe the games were poor to todays games if you compare resolution, amount of colours or symphonic sound, but what counted in the end was the gameplay and the playability. And you will find hundreds of games for the C64 that also will keep YOU hooked up for hours if you open your mind and give it a chance. ;-)
Q: Ok, never saw it from that point of view. But what on earth is a demo?
A: Demos are multimedial presentations of coders, graphicians and musicians which have the strong urge of showing their programming-, drawing-, and composing-talents to a very small audience. Demos are made to show off the capabilities of the demo-group and the computer they are shown on. So the only purpose of a demo is to entertain the audience and sometimes to deliver a message. Seeing it that way a computer-demo can be seen as another form of art. To some extent the demo-scene can be compared to the graffity-scene, geddit?
Most people find demos boring. If you want to convince your friend about the magic of demos always be sure to show them on the original machine, otherwise they might say: "The demos are nice, sure. But on your 2 GHz PC it's no wonder, the emulator sureley accelerates it...". Happened to me lots of times, the only way to really convince them is to show the demos on the C64. :-)
Q: Hm, yep. Just one more question: What is this SIDPlug thingy that I keep on reading about on so many C64 related websites?
A: The SIDPlug is a plugin for your browser. Basically it is a program that emulates the SID chip of a C64 inside your browser. Whenever you click on a .sid file on my site it will start playing if you have SIDPlug installed in your browsers' \plugin directory.
And don't worry, the .sid files are between 2 and 60 Kb (yes, KILOBYTES) in size, so that's nearly nothing compared to other bandwidth-eating file formats like mp3.
At the moment SIDPlug 1.2.13 works well with all Netscapes, Internet Explorer up to version 5.5 (yep, that means it doesn't work with IE6) and even with your Opera Browser. But be aware that it randomly freezes my Opera 6 browser while the sidtune is playing (it worked like a breeze in 5.02, though).