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CNN.com readers recall the life-changing Commodore 64

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(CNN) -- If you know this command -- Load "*", 8,1 -- like the back of your hand, you probably have fond memories of the Commodore 64, one of the first home computers commercially available en masse.

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Rob Heyman poses with his Commodore 64 in December of 1985. "Bad hair, good computer," Heyman says.

The C64, released in 1982, celebrated its 25th birthday this year.

CNN.com readers responded to our story on the C64 with an outpouring of memories and anecdotes.

Readers explained that the C64 opened up a world of programming and sparked a lifelong fascination with technology. Below is a selection of readers' comments, some of which have been edited for length and clarity.

Ian Schafer of Staten Island, New York
This computer changed my life, allowed me to learn computer program, got me "online" for the first time, and was the most important birthday gift I've ever received. I now run a successful digital advertising agency. I love you, C64. Video See video of Ian getting a C64 for his 8th birthday »

Jim Wood in North Georgia
I grew up in the mountains of North Georgia. I remember mowing yards and such to save up money to by the C64 for $300; it took me awhile to get the disk drive, printer, etc. ... but I did it. I even took the C-64 to junior college and it was the end-all solution; you could play games, write papers, program and all through a color TV in the dorm. I always preferred it over the Apple II and even the first IBM PC Clones.

I am 40 years old now and the C64 will always hold a special place in my life because it allowed me learn a skill set that has steadily evolved into my livelihood today. I have returned to the mountains that I love and I am the CIO of a significant community bank, and it all, in a sense, started with the C-64.

Catherine in Wisconsin
On a visit home, my dad bought me one. I kept talking about it and showing him ads for it. I think he did it to shut me up. Best thing he ever did for me. It sent me down a road I never thought I'd go -- becoming a techie. It gave me my 'niche' in a turbulent time.

Gadget Girl in Canada
The C64 was the first computer that I owned myself. I wrote and edited my undergraduate thesis on it! I can't recall the name of the word processor I used back in 1988, but I recall that in order to spell check, it first alphabetized the entire document, and then compared it with a dictionary. My thesis was 60 pages long, and I could go and wash and dry two loads of laundry while it was running the spell check. Ah, good times!

Nik in Beijing
Yet another user here who started with Commodore, ended up going into computer programming and is now making a comfortable living from it.

It's amazing all the games, but someone here mentions The Reference Guide -- yes, I have never come across a computer book since so complete and so useful.

C64 defined a generation. Too bad I won't be able to attend the Mountain View event.

Amit in the U.S.
My favorite computer. I learned to use it in India in 1984-85 when I was in the 6th grade. We were the first generation of computer geeks in India! Great to see it on the main site. I wrote games and search routines on it too. What a memory to revive!

Amanda in Canada
Wow, thanks for the little flashback and laugh. I still remember my grandma buying the first C64 I ever played on. Soon after my parents got one, and we were hooked! My favorite game was The Winter Olympics and Lemonade Stand.

Texrat in Fort Worth, Texas
Wow, so great to read this! The C64 changed my life. At the time of its release my mom could not understand why I "wasted" $1,500 on a toy and its accessories. But today that little investment keeps paying back career-wise. Thank you Commodore! I owe that beige box so much.

Bob in Boston, Massachusetts
In 1999 when I went to UMass, in Lowell, to fix one of their systems I was surprised to see ... a C64 in the computer room monitoring the weather equipment that was mounted on the roof. It had been doing so since the C64 was new and [considering] "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," they just left it running. I gave them my old C64 stuff from the attic as spares and -- I hope -- it's still chugging along.

AnimalRobb in Jacksonville, Florida
C64 opened the door for not only programming, but for message boards and much of the early context for the first generation of Internet usage. I remember the first time I hooked a phone line to a computer and felt like I had arrived!

Annoying Man 66 in Camas, Washington
This article has me nostalgic to the extent that I'm going to move home with my parents and watch "Never Ending Story" on a loop with my brother, the boss of the Midnight Riders.

JB in Mission Viejo, California
I remember typing programs by hand into the C64 at night after school, copying line-by-line instructions from C64 magazines. This was before we had access to disk drives/cassette backups, so you could never turn the power off or you would lose everything.

And once you had that program or game loaded ,that was all you could do with your C64 -- until next month's game magazine showed up! Can't tell you how many times a late night lightning strike would shake the power grid and I'd lose everything.

Evan Koblentz in New Jersey
Chuck Peddle, the technical wizard who ran Commodore's computer division in the late 1970s, spoke for 90 minutes at the recent Vintage Computer Festival East 4.0 in Wall, New Jersey. His lecture was recorded on video in four parts. Read about it and watch the video clip via this blog post ... enjoy!

Rob in Oaklawn, Illinois
Wow, it's been that long. We had the Atari 800 and C64. I was 11 at the time and my mom got me a subscription to a computer magazine that showed you how to program. I would spend hours doing these programs. My mom was shocked when I spent seven hours inputting code just to show a graphic of Santa in a chimney popping in and out. I miss my C64 and Atari 800.

Jaira in Kansas City, Kansas
Oh I remember the C64!! I was 4 years old when my mother brought it home in 1984. She had an in-home office back then and I used to curl up by her feet when she worked on it! I used to LOVE IT when she allowed me to get on the computer back then. I thought it was so cool to type and see it on screen! Later on she bought my brother and I games and we had a ball. I won't ever forget those times.

Veronica in Florida
Oh ... the fond memories of fighting with my brothers over who got to play.

Wes in Lake Elmo, Minnesota
I have always told my kids that I invented the computer virus on my C64. I had written a small BASIC version of "Pong" but had neglected to put any barriers around the "screen memory" area of the computer. When the ball went past the paddle, it would rip through the memory area that contained the program and the program destroyed itself!

Mike in Colorado
I was lucky enough to be in high school in 1984 and just interested enough in computers to get my start on a C64. The best investment my dad ever made for me was this little beige computer. I was fascinated with the text-based games of Scott Adams (anybody remember Adventureland?) and asked my math teacher, who happened to teach in the computer lab, how I would go about writing a game like this.

"Ever hear of arrays?" he asked. "No..." I said. "Well, you'll need to know how to store the rooms and keep track of where each room is in reference to the others. You'll need arrays to do that." Thus began my quest to create my own text-based game and find out what these mysterious "arrays" were that he was talking about.

Twenty-five years later, I'm making quite a good living still doing what I love to do -- creating new things with software. A formal college education and faster computers with more powerful programming languages like Java have certainly made the job easier, but I still look back fondly on that time when I was first learning how to create something entirely from scratch. The Commodore 64 let you do that.

C64fan35 in New York
I wonder ... How many C64 users (like myself at 10 years old in 1985) are now programmers, or work in IT? I know I do and probably because I was a 10 year old kid fooling around with the C64, typing LOAD "*" ,8,1 and thinking I was launching the space shuttle or something.

Javier van der Biezen in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles
In 1985 and 1987, our high school Mgr. Nieuwindt College got the first computer room on the island. ... Man, this brings back memories. We also had two of the monitors and keyboards in one giant console kind of computer. I remember when I typed... The sound was clack, clack, clack... Funny stuff, God bless....

Lou Ricker in Italy, Texas
I'm 84. C64, the fun machine, is right here beside the PC. A teenager, Craig Chamberlain, wrote a great music system. Some German guys and Australians did great things. Bill Gates wrote the operating system for $7,000 -- back when he needed money. I wrote a program to select gears for my lathe. I replay the old chess games and marvel at how smart I used to be.

Load "*" ,8,1 in Los Angeles, California
I grew up in the Philippines and the C64 was everywhere in my neighborhood -- from VIC20s to the more advanced (at the time) Amiga. My brother and I would wait patiently for the games to load off from the cassette tape drive. It taught us BASIC and logic even before we could speak a whole sentence in English! Now both in our 30s, we long for games like "Space Station," "Karateka," and "Mission Impossible." Who can forget synthesized vocal sound bytes like "Stay a while, Stay forever!". Hope to attend the 24th anniversary festivities up in Mountain View. More power to the C64!

CyberSpy in Cyberspace
Has it really been 25 years since my BBS went up? Life has really flown by. I remember going from the Vic 20 to the C= 64. Now I'm remembering zmodem, 6485, C-Net 64 -- but my fondest memories were coming home after school and playing Jumpman or Jumpman Jr. with my father, who never really had time while struggling to work and keep our family together.

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To some, like myself, the Commodore 64 was more than just being a SysOp or a gateway to phreaking/hacking and other underground activities --who can forget wardialing and scanning for MCI Codes -- it was molding us into professionals who would work in the the .com era, InfoSec, programming, networking, etc. It symbolizes a time when life was simpler, new, refreshing, and being on the cusp of what was to become the digital revolution, with MTV just coming on the air, people getting cable television and the Betamax/VHS wars.

Thank you CNN for posting this news article. Hopefully someone can do a story on BBS's, and how they were the precursor to today's Social Network Sites. When those of us that didn't fit in had a BBS to turn to and could find others just like us -- and not resort to gathering firearms and shooting up a school or mall. If not for Commodore and its legacy machines, who knows what I would be doing now. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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