I've wanted one of these since I discovered there was a Commodore 65. I reckon it's second
to the Apple Lisa 1 in my top 10 of Most Wanted - it's one of those machines that becomes gold dust for any computer collector,
particularly since like the P500 it was never officially released. Some did escape into the development world, but the rest didn't
get out until Commodore was liquidated in 1994 - this one has a CBM Auction sticker on the back.
Officially called the C64DX (CBM were being cheap with their codenames, since DX64 was the codename for
an even rarer development dual-floppy version of the portable SX64), the C65 project was started to try and capitalise on 10 years' worth
of C64 software and programming skills whilst giving C64 owners something to upgrade to. It featured a brand new 8-bit-with-16-bit-extensions
CPU called a 4510 (codename 'Victor' after designer Victor Andrade) and an improved VIC chip called the VIC-III (codename
'Bill' after designer Bill Gardei) along with 128K of RAM and dual SIDs for stereo output. I have to wonder
why it was started since the Amiga 500 was already out and about - even I had one! Again like the P500 there are
varying rumours as to how many got out, from 200 to 2000, but from what I've read the real answer is closer to the 200 mark.
Note how Amiga-like it looks, right down to the expansion slot underneath for up to 4MB RAM expansion and stereo sound
ports.....more to the point, it works! This one is Serial number 31 and is a Rev3 board, one of the revisions was to
actually include the extra external floppy drive connector for the also-not-released 1556 floppy. Here's a mail from
Riccardo Rubini who also owns C65 parts:
"I am a fellow C65 owner. Among C65 computers, I own a dead Rev 5 motherboard, and the reason it is fauly
is in the famous "handwritten" labeled chip you were wondering about in your Rev3 C65 description. That's a PAL, I guess you know what
it is. For being more precise, it's a TIBPAL20L8x-xx"
Just giving it a good going over reveals many subtle differences; since this one is missing the F11/F12 key I
wondered if I could steal one from a dead C128, but the keyboard layout is completely different; it uses the same keytops as the 128,
but still retains the C64's graphics labelling on the side. Basically it has a more PC-like keyboard than the 128, so there's a full
size TAB key and the CTRL key is where you'd expect; in layout terms it resembles a modern laptop.
Because CBM wanted to capitalise on the existing C64 market this machine also includes a C64 mode, but the only
trouble is that unlike the C128 which actually had a C64 kernal built-in the C65 emulates it in software meaning it's slow and not 100%
compatible. It also breaks when demos and game cracks poke around in locations they're not supposed to. Cartridge slot-wise yes there is
one. But it's from a C16 so isn't 64 compatible in the slightest. *slow hand clap*.
The project was canned in 1991, too little too late.
Thanks to Bo Zimmerman, Texan CBM collector extraordinaire, for thinking of
me when he came across his other machine, and more detailed info can be found on his site and Cameron Kaiser's Secret Weapons of Commodore.