8-bit Vengeance – Part 3 – Vintage Commodore 128 Book


As a third, and for the time being, last part of the series “8-bit Vengeance“, I will introduce you to another one of those “miracles” that keep happening in the retrocomputing community. 34 years after the first appearance of the C-128 on the market and 25 years after the demise of Commodore, it’s almost incredible for these things to happen. Yet, they do! The Vintage Commodore 128 Personal Computer Handbook was originally written in 1985 (without the “vintage” part, as it is obvious). At that time computers were everyone’s new baby but, in the IT first era, people were in desperate need for proper documentation. Mrs. Margaret G. Morabito was the Tech Editor for RUN Magazine and, with the help of some Commodore’s engineer, decided to write a book about a computer that, at the time, had the right stuff to supersede everything else. As we now know, things went in a different direction and the book ended up in a drawer. Luckily for us, in 2016 she decided to pull her machine out of storage and, consequently, to update the manual to make it relevant to readers in 2019. I decided to publish here the book’s foreword, signed by former C128 Designer (and Commodore Senior Designer Engineer) Bill Herd. Page bottom also shows other engineers that worked on it and, later on, on the Amiga. It also features a nice Easter Egg, which works on any C128 implementation being it real-hardware or not.

For the third time in 3 articles, I’m here to say that we are not floating in nostalgia here. Sure, the book can be read and enjoyed also from that point of view, regardless of the fact that you own or not the original hardware. But, if you do, you will here find an answer to many different questions, all explained in an easy to understand, non-technical language.

As the author says, the book is “aimed specifically at present-day users. It will teach you how to use and equip your vintage C-128, even if you don’t have the original peripherals and software disks. Practical hands-on information is included, such as how to set up the computer, how to access and use the three operating systems, how to set up and use certain modern peripherals such as the SD2IEC, how to go online through Ethernet or by wireless or with a traditional modem. Also included are technical specifications, an introduction to BASIC 7.0, how to use CP/M, maintenance, troubleshooting, repair services, where to get modern day peripherals, where to look for sources of information on hardware, software, support, and communication with other Commodore computer users, among other topics of interest and need.”

I would have never dreamt of such a book, and I am grateful to the author for writing it back then. I am even more grateful for publishing it right now, in a high-tech world that too often forgets where it came from. It is so good, every now and then, to slow down and to enjoy life at a different pace. As Mrs. Morabito said: “this will be one of your main C-128 reference books, one that you will come back to again and again”. It is so true Madam, it is so true. Thank you from deep inside my heart!

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