Month: January 2008

Best Friend – Mario Materazzo

Mario Materazzo is a name I will never forget. Mario was my best friend when we lived in Woodstock. He lived a couple of houses down from us on Fleming Road. His house was on the corner of Fleming and Route 120. It was a fairly big house with a working farm and barn. They used to have quite a few animals around. I remember being impressed with the peacocks since it was the first time I ever saw someone own them and keep them on the property.

Mario was at the same school and the same grade as me. We rarely had classes together based on different levels of study. I can’t remember how we met, but knowing Mario it was probably with him coming over to our house and introducing himself. He was never shy and I certainly envied him that.

Mario was an only child at the time and wanted someone to play with. I don’t think he would have really minded who he played with but from his perspective I was a pretty good mate. We used to get into all kinds of trouble together. He always had such a depth of ideas about what could be done. We would sometimes play with my sister and her friend. We would have all the military toys (tanks, soldiers, planes) and they would have the Barbies and the accessories. Typically it would go well for a few minutes but before long the tormenting would begin. I would pretend to attack Ken and Barbie with the tanks and planes. It was escalate to popping off the Barbie heads (which could be fixed). Mario, from memory, took it too far once and managed to break off a leg. I remember us laughing at the time. Unfortunately this could not be fixed and I did feel bad for my sister. She still sometimes remembers this event. It was just Mario. He meant well and sometimes the fun just went too far.

Another classic example is when we used to take field trips into their distant backyard. I don’t know how many acres it was but I would guess at least 100. Either Mario was telling me stories about owning this property or it really was theirs. I would tend to believe that they owned it. One day we ventured far into the back. Mario and I found a small bomb. It looked like the kind of bomb that you would find after being dropped from a plane. It had the fins and the round aerodynamic shape. It was real and obviously forgotten in a field. We decided that it was a good idea to take it with us. So, we started walking back to the house with this unexploded bomb. Mario had the clever idea of passing the time by tossing the bomb to me. I wasn’t going to catch it so I remember it landing nearby. Me, equally being clever, tossed it back. I don’t know how long this went on for but I do remember that we added sound effects and acted like the bomb worked from time to time. Once past the first throw, it was incredibly fun.

We got back to the house after quite a walk and showed the bomb to Mario’s mom. She freaked out instantly. She rightly was worried that it could explode at any time. She laid out a towel on the kitchen counter and put the bomb gingerly on the towel. Within minutes she was calling some unknown authority about what to do about the bomb.

She was told that the backyard had once been used as a training ground for military exercises and that the bomb should be treated as live. Someone would be there to collect it within the next few hours.

I don’t know about Mario, but it certainly left a big impression on me. Not that I have seen any bombs since then but I can easily say that I would not pick up a bomb again. Perhaps Mario felt the same way since we never went looking for more of them.

We used to walk to each other’s houses quite often.  We always had great times and thinking back, he was an instant and lasting friend.

We dug snow caves in winter.  We cannonballed in summer.  We walked around both of our properties and always imagined new things to do.  Mario was always willing to try things I thought might be dangerous.  We made a good team since we lived on different sides of caution.

I used to go over to his house to hang out.  There always seemed like something new going on.  His family was quite wealthy and Mario told me that his Dad was in the meat packing business in Chicago.  He also had told me that his family had originally come from Mexico.  Much later, I wondered if there was a chance that organized crime was involved.  It used to be a joke in the house but later I concluded that perhaps it was not a joke.  His father was rarely around.  His mother was so nice and was always looking out for us.  Later his father would come down with a tumor in his stomach and his belly grew quite large.  It was unclear if it was cancer or not but I don’t think it ended well.

I remember they had bought and caged a dangerous dog.  Mario had said it was for protection and that it was half wolf.  To me it looked like something that should never be let out of its cage.

Mario was such a cool friend and I was said to leave him when we moved away in 1978.  About the same time, he moved to Mexico with his family.  In 1979 I heard from him the last time with a letter that came to me in Tucson.  It was not well written but the message was clear.  Mario was in Mexico and had gotten involved with drugs.  He advised me to stay away from them.  It was sad news and it always made me wonder what happened after that.  I’m hoping that he is still alive and well and doing business in Mexico or America.  There is little hope now of knowing what happened.

I’ve included the only picture that I have of Mario.  It was taken in 1976 and in Acapulco.  Mario had caught this massive swordfish and got his picture in the local Woodstock newspaper.  He was so proud of this and I remember him telling me that he really was the one that caught it.  Click on the picture to see the large version.

Mario made living in Woodstock so fun.  He was certainly the best childhood friend I had.  It’s been great remembering him.

Mario Catching a Marlin


Muir TV Repair

Growing up, my Dad worked on fixing televisions.  This happened whenever things got slow at TWA with being a navigator.  Obviously a navigator is a better job money-wise but sometimes things would get dodgy.  During the energy crisis of 1973, many pilots and air crews were laid off.  Dad never seemed to be high up enough on the list to avoid being laid off.  At least he had another job to fall back on.

The order of things in my memories is a bit mixed up but in the end it really doesn’t matter.  My earliest memory of understanding that Dad could fix TVs happened in around 1969-1970.  He had just bought a special testing kit and tested it on a TV in our garage.  The device would generate color patterns and he used a special mirror to see the colors while he was in the back of the TV.  I remember it being a bit like stands used to hold music but with a mirror instead.  It was mesmerizing to watch the color changes and also very new since it was early in the adoption of color TV.

At some later time, he actually worked in a TV repair shop in McHenry, Illinois.  He seemed happy but he was always happier to be flying somewhere in his 727s.  He worked for a couple that owned the shop and also sold TVs.  The early 70s were still a time of being really excited about TVs.  People used to spend fortunes (as they do today on huge TVs) and many TVs were actually considered to be as important as nice furniture.  Some of the cabinets used from that era were as good as any other crafted wood furniture.

We had several TVs in the house.  Later on, Mom and Dad had their own TV built into the wall of their bedroom.  It was quite a novelty.  We really were a TV family.  I used to watch baseball on a TV that really only I used next to the fireplace upstairs.  It was a black and white but I didn’t care.  I became a Cubs fan since we lived near Chicago.  I remember using a marker on the glass screen of the TV to mark where the strike zone was.  It was surprising how much that camera never moved.

Just after the energy crisis and when we moved to Woodstock, Dad setup a shop in the shed on our property.  The shed was two stories and fairly big.  He custom built a work area upstairs with a fully enclosed space with work benches and tube lights.  It seemed like a pretty impressive thing to have at home.  In this area, he had lots of tools and bench space.  Somehow he managed to always fill the bench area with TVs and parts.  I used to go visit him from time to time when he was up there.  Sometimes he’d get so involved that you might not see him in the house all day.

He called his business Muir TV and he did get a fair number of people asking for his help.   Many TVs end up being too expensive to fix so Dad used to keep those around for parts.  This seems to be a common practice.  He would do service at houses and in practice he proved not to be a great businessman.  He would tell me that people would often have TVs that didn’t work simply because they had unplugged them by accident.  He wouldn’t charge any money even though he would have to travel there to find this out.  In fact, he always undercharged his customers.  I remember looking through his receipts and most of them were marked as N/C (No charge).

The TV repair business changed for the worse when the tubes were changed to transistors and integrated circuits.  The internals were worth less and less and it became more efficient to buy a new TV instead of fixing an old one.  The repair business suffers this problem across the board.  Fixing things often costs more than getting a new better version.

The vacuum tubes were really cleverly designed.  It was possible to replace one from its socket without much effort.  This is rarely true for a transistor or integrated circuit.

Another strike against repair was the increased circuitry complexity in TVs.  The technology was just getting too advanced for the TV repair people to catch up.  Dad has told me many times that it just doesn’t make sense to fix high tech low cost devices.  It is clear that we live in a world of planned obsolescence.

Dad actually was in the process of moving his business to a real Woodstock location.  He had rented a building just out of town with good traffic.  It had been a printing business and we acquired much of the stock left behind.  For years later we were still using the stationery.  Anyways, the business never got started and if I remember it was because he had left Woodstock to move to Albuquerque.  The timing of this is not clear but Dad never committed to opening the store.  I’m unclear whether or not he could have pulled it off.  He was way too generous with his time and skills.

His interest in technology was what led to me studying computers.  We would visit him in Albuquerque and he had a Radio Shack Model I.  He would let us play with it and showed us how the programs worked.  He had trouble grasping the details and had bought a book on a microprocessor.  He had tried to understand the book but had trouble.

I picked it up and was instantly fascinated.  I had no idea that was how they worked and somehow it made sense.  It was the beginning of my curiosity with computers.  Later on I would study on Radio Shack Model IIIs and not long after that I was reverse engineering the operating system and making small changes (changing graphics and text).  In 1983 at the University of Arizona I helped maintain a full lab of these machines.  It was great timing.

Anyways, back to Muir TV.  Dad was always an early adopter of technology.  For awhile there, he lost touch from about 1985 to a few years ago.  Now, he is trying to catch up again.  I was just talking to him this weekend and he was telling me things about LCD, LED, and Plasma TVs that I didn’t know.  He certainly has an affinity for this kind of thing.

The last Muir TV story I’ll share is about how Dad almost died fixing a TV once.  The old TVs could be quite deceptive in how they are dangerous.  TVs that are turned off and unplugged for a week or more can still cause trouble.  Dad told me once he was working on such a TV when he was shocked through his two arms and his heart.  No one was there to help.  He couldn’t move his arms since the muscles were locked from the electricity.  It was only the act of gravity that pulled the TV downwards off the bench and off his arms.  The TV was destroyed but Dad was very glad to have survived.  Dad explained that capacitors inside TVs can store a charge of thousands of volts and can hold this charge for weeks.  It was common practice at that time to discharge the capacitors before doing work.  Dad made sure after that it would not happen again.  True story.

Asking for Directions

Everyone knows the joke about men never asking for directions. It seems to be a universal problem regardless of any particular part of the world or the culture involved. Men are supposed to know where they are going. It is not difficult to imagine a nomadic tribe wandering around lost with a single male signing that he remembers a tree or a interesting bush. And for such a long time, women have just shrugged their shoulders and found the first person that they could ask for themselves. Women have never seemed to be afraid to admit that they are lost. In a way, it is good that men and women spend time together. Otherwise the men might never find anything.

This is largely a stereotype but surprisingly it does seem to be the standard mode of operation for most men. I’ve done it myself lots of times and my wife will either insist that I ask or she will ask someone out the window when we are stopped at a light. It doesn’t happen very often but it can happen we we go on trips.

Why is it such a big deal? I’ve never heard a really good reason for it. I think it might have something to do with not admitting error. Perhaps making a mistake is just not supposed to be an option. How can you ask directions when the very act of asking shows that you have made a very big error of judgment? If not that, maybe it is just that men are supposed to instinctively know which direction to go and in that leadership it guarantees that we would want to keep our leadership role. We, as a group, do not like to let go of control. We typically view leadership with lack of error which in theory also leads to better respect.

The truth is that this kind of leadership is destined to failure. No one will talk about it perhaps (fearing punishment) but it will still be a mistake. Leadership that fears and avoids failure is destined to fail. Quite bizarre concept really.

The point this apparently is leading to is that leaders must acknowledge that having only one leader is bound to fail in the short and long term. By this I mean that if the leader relies solely on his or her own brain, and does not ask for opinions (or directions) the chance of successfully reaching the goal are greatly diminished. I’m not saying that there should be hundreds of leaders. That is more a problem of too many heads (hydra) that really will be the expression of individual minds with most likely conflicting ideas of where to go. This would pretty much put the group in stagnation with lots of churn in one spot. A leader which is willing to share the power is more likely to ask for directions. A leader with thought originating outside his or her brain is more likely a leader that is uncaring as to where the ownership of the ideas lay.

It is a great secret in spirituality that there are no secrets. It takes awhile to realize that most everything is already available to you. The best bits of life come from the usually unobserved miracles of everyday life.

I say this because I’ve come to a point in my life where I need to make a decision. I’m in the process of deciding whether or not to travel to my grandparent’s home in Minnesota. My Grandmother is very ill and it is unclear how much time is left. It could be anything from a few days to a few months. Anyway, it is hard to deal with since I’ve never been this close to the possibility of death with someone that has been so close.

I already know what I should do which is to go to America. As selfish as it sounds, I just don’t know if I am ready. I know I could do it, really.

Anyways, I’m going to decide in the next day or two what to do and this is where the “asking for directions” comes from. Obviously I’m not asking for directions to Humboldt. This is a case where I admit that my first reaction is to shield my emotions. The directions I would seek is how to open up. I need to let all this stuff out.

It is not aimed at any one person to ask this and really this is more like therapy for me to write about this that me actually expecting someone to respond.

I figure that the universe has its own way of answer questions and providing help when asked.

So, I ask this:

How can I find the courage to face this and not shield my heart? How can I let the pain come to the surface without losing my way?

Frankly I’m afraid of letting this kind of stuff out. It is kind of like having a cupboard full of china that has been displaced by an earthquake. At what point to you try to open the door?

The answer, metaphysically, is that the door is already open. You cannot hold back that which has already happened.

Illusions surround us everyday and the most revealing thing about them is that they are formed by our own perceptions. A magician never reveals his secrets and likewise our minds do the same. The trapdoor in the stage is set for us to fall into to save us from the boiling knives. The fierce heat does not reach us and we are safe, as always, deep inside.

That which is sought is always granted but perhaps not in the form sought. Peace and harmony are solely a process of the mind inspired by the events seen on the outside. What if your whole life was nothing but a performance that you alone wrote. Why would you write it that way? What is the ending? Will anyone appreciate your script?

Clearly it is not that simple.

I just am having trouble accepting what I know is what I am meant to do. The only way to face your phantoms is to stop running and to turn on the lights. Once done, you realize that the phantoms disappear and that it was your own thoughts that brought them to bear.

When my great-grandmother died in 1975 I was only ten years old. Since I was the first of her son’s Harvey’s grandchild, we somehow formed a special bond. I have several memories of her and I’m so glad that I was able to be a part of her life. When she died, I didn’t know what to do. I remember this well. I didn’t want to admit that she had died to that part of me that still wanted to be with her. It’s like I never let go.

I didn’t go to the funeral as part of this view of hiding the truth. I was pretty young at the time but this way of handling such close loss has survived largely intact today. I have recently discovered that my Dad has done the same thing with his family.

It is time for that kind of reaction to end. I have to accept that these things happen all the time and will eventually affect me as well.

In that light, I have convinced myself to go. She certainly has not died yet but that is no excuse for avoiding what will most likely be nothing like I have imaged. I have the ability to take the time to do this and there really are no excuses for being in remiss.

It certainly is not going to be easy but at least change is taking place and I’m sure the answers and directions will come soon.

I spoke with Grandma a couple of weeks ago and she seemed in good spirits. I asked her what I could do. She replied that she would like for me to pray for her.

Grandma, you have given so much in your life. I pray that you know how much of a difference you have made in everybody’s life and that you can see how much everyone loves you. And, even though you are suffering with a fatal illness, you are still a bright light in the family. I pray that you will know how much we love you. I pray that you will see that your family understands the path that you are on and that everyone will show you that they can let go.

The battle is largely over and I know that there is not much time or energy left. I know how hard it can be to stand alone on a field of strange places. You do not stand alone. It just seems that way. We all love you so much and we will rally around you once again. We are not here to fight but rather spend what time we have together on that field.

I’m sorry that it all worked out this way. I wish things had gone differently. This is not where any of us wanted things to be. We are not captains of our own lives this way.

However, we do have the power to accept. We do have the power to bring light and love to such a lovely person as yourself. It is clear that the path has already been chosen and that the challenges presented. It is just a matter of bringing all this together in a way that shows you that everything is already okay.

Mom, I know you are reading this. Can you please print this out and give this to Grandma when you go to see her next week.

It appears to be such a public way of doing this but really very few people read this blog. In this case it is probably a blessing. It is quickly turning into a blog just for our family.

With that, I must stop for now. It has been a very draining day to think about what is coming.

Labor Saving Devices

During the industrial age and continuing into the information age there has been a constant focus on progress.  The partial definition of progress is creating ideas that lead to less energy being exerted which also gets more work done.  It is a fairly simple concept to allow people to have more idle time to do whatever they want.

Unfortunately, this usually leads to lack of activity which encourages weight gain and an unhealthy lifestyle.

Perhaps the pendulum has swung too far towards making things easy.  Perhaps it is time to make things a bit more difficult for the sake of creating work.  Instead of wasting energy doing exercises at a gym, wouldn’t it make that much more sense to use that energy to complete normal tasks?

It’s not a particularly inspired idea and yet it seems to be completely missed by the mass advertising campaigns.  Perhaps the last thing a person wants to do is work when they can do something to do the work for them.

Along these lines, even play could encourage exercise.  Video game technology (like the Wii) is getting good enough at using real actions to control action within the game.  As an experiment, I have been doing Wii Sports over the last week or two and have found that it actually does challenge the body to move that a typical middle aged person like myself would not normally do.  Having the inspiration to use this energy is much better than just typing at a keyboard all day and watching TV at night.

With all the new focus on being green, it is clear that non-powered devices are going to become more popular again. It isn’t going to be a revolution but it is sort of a realization that too many things are automated and dependent on electricity to do the work.

Even transportation is too static.  I’ve thought many times that even though it is impractical, it would be more useful to having it require more energy to drive a car.  This could range from having a lack of power steering and power windows up to the insane idea of doing some kind of peddling action while driving.  The point is that it would be beneficial for humans to expend energy while using vehicles.  If it was possible to use this energy to reduce the amount of energy the vehicle uses, so much the better.  Obviously a bicycle is a perfect match for this concept but unfortunately the bicycle can only take you so far.  Adding to this is the fact that dedicated bicycle paths rarely exist and therefore bicyclists are always at risk with passing automobiles.

The real question is, how many times have you seen a fat bicyclist?  If you do, he or she is most likely either an beginner or has just been busted for some serious vehicle offense.

So, the next time you here the phrase “Labor Saving Device” just think that most likely it is going to make you lazy and fat.  Sure, it is attractive to the leisure loving side of yourself but rest assured that it is a slippery slope and that the balance needs to be brought back by having more “Labor Creating Devices”.  Even better, why not try it with no devices at all?  That’s assuming that it is possible to do without tools.

Or, perhaps it would be better to think “How can I use up the most energy doing this task?”.  Strange, but true.

At the very least it is something to consider.

Commercial Sites Which Only Allow USA Customers

This is an old pet peeve of mine. I want to buy something on the Internet for my family in America and yet the web site is either incorrectly coded for foreign transactions or the company will not accept credit cards from outside the US. I’m sure there are good reasons for this but I do not appreciate the exclusion.

Recently I tried to get stuff from both IKEA and Wal-Mart for family members. It sounded like a good idea at the time. It is the Internet and 2008 so why not?

Unfortunately it does not end well. IKEA would only allow the transaction after calling the 1-800 number if I was to fax proof that I lived overseas at the specified address. Wal-Mart didn’t even get that far. They have a policy of excluding all possible foreign addresses (except perhaps for the military forces stationed overseas). I’m not asking for them to send stuff HERE but rather to family in America. The model makes sense but apparently most US-based web sites/companies don’t get it.

In a rare act of customer defiance, I submitted this email to Wal-Mart for further clarification and restatement of why I think this policy is stupid. For your reading pleasure, I have included it here:

Hi Chris,

Can you tell someone that ordering things on the Internet means that customers can come from other countries? It appears that Wal-Mart, like many other US companies, does not realize the potential for allowing transactions originating from the rest of the world.

As a software developer, I realize that this is really not about technology but rather business policies and trust. The essential message is that people with foreign credit cards cannot be trusted and therefore must be excluded from purchasing items.

What is not realized is that families can now span the globe. People often try to use the Internet to purchase gifts to family members that reside in America. Since I have lived in Australia for 10 years, I have seen first hand what it means to try to do this. So many times I have failed to purchase something for my family in America even though my money is completely valid and I have the desire to buy something.

Usually it is because the forms are biased towards American addresses for billing addresses. Sometimes is simply just an oversight. Other times, like this, it is a strict policy which limits who can buy things.

As an American citizen living overseas and also as a past Wal-Mart customer when visiting, I find this annoying. I like Wal-Mart. My Dad likes Wal-Mart. He loves going down to the local SuperCenter to have a look and I believe that he buys most of what he buys there. I just thought it would be nice to give him a gift certificate to allow him to have some fun doing what he already loves.

It would be great if you shared this story. I do believe that Wal-Mart is missing a key use case of the Internet and should find a way to expand their level of trust for customers who live overseas but want to purchase for family in America for gifts.

Jeff Muir

First Computer – Commodore 64

Recently the Commodore 64 was declared to be 25 years old. There was a presentation given at the Computer Museum which has been captured on YouTube. The recording is around 90 minutes long and is really a trip back to the roots of the Commodore 64 and how much affect it really had on a generation of computer owners.

The Commodore 64 was unique since it really was the first cheap mass produced computer which was accepted by the masses.   At the time, 64K of memory seemed like more than enough.  The IBM PC was considered by some to be overpriced and too targeted at business users.

What the Commodore did best was games.  The games you could play on the Commodore 64 were so interesting compared to the fare for the IBM PC and even the Apple.  Some of my first games on the 64 were from a young software house called Electronic Arts which later grew to be one of the most influential groups in the gaming industry.

Even though I had been doing some BASIC programming since 1980, the Commodore 64 was the first computer I could try things with at home.  I remember buying magazines with programs that could be typed in for simple games and utilities.  I bought the programming books as well to experiment with the sounds, sprites, colors, and storage.

In 1983 I had saved up enough money to buy the Commodore 64 for around $530 at a local small computer shop.  I was happy to get a discount from the retail price of $599 but was not as happy when a few months later the price dropped to around $300.  It wasn’t as obvious then that computer prices always fall and that there is no perfect time to buy a computer unless it is practically worthless.

Regardless, I was quite excited to have my own computer and learned how to do all kinds of things with it.  The tape drive was very frustrating but also the only way to load programs into memory (for those on a budget).  You could never tell when it was actually working and the only guideline you had was the tape counter which was inherently inaccurate.  The only way to track it was to write down numbers if you were bold enough to save more than one thing on a tape.  All I can remember is that it was more of an art than a science to successful save and restore programs.

The most interesting additions that came later were the disk drive, the monitor, and the modem.  These items made my Commodore 64 into a real computer that could do many of the same tasks that any typical Apple or IBM PC could do.  The modem opened up the world at a blistering 300 baud and allowed me to participate in local BBS groups.  This is long before the Internet was widely used by poor students for home use.  I remember the Internet was largely seen as a research tool at the time for universities and the government.  300 baud was a bit slow for reading text but when the 1200 baud upgrade came, it was finally evident that computers could transfer data faster than people could read the text.

The disk made it reliable to load programs and save data.  It made the tape drive look like a joke.  I can’t remember how much storage it had but I would guess less than 200K.  This turned out to be a pivotal feature for making the Commodore 64 not only more usable but also faster and reliable.

The monitor allowed for 80 characters wide of text.  This became important for text editing and reading BBS posts.  After having 80 characters, 40 is just not enough.

The Commodore 64 led to the Commodore 128 and the Amiga.  I wished I had bought the Amiga since it was seen as being largely ahead of its time.  Years and years ago in college, a friend had suggested that we write games for the Amiga.  He had some great ideas of how to do it and I respected his abilities and foresight.  For whatever reason, I did not go with it and sometimes not only what happened to him but whether or not he chased up his dream to write a game.

One of the best games I remember playing was a game called Beach-Head .  The game play was difficult and realistic for the time.  I played this at university in the dorm room and it had more effect when plugged into my roommates stereo speakers.

At university the Commodore 64 played another role besides playing games.  In 1987 I had an assignment for one of my more advanced computer engineering courses.  Essentially we were assigned to model a system that could handle processing jobs in an orderly prioritized fashion with the best utilization of computing resources.  It was much more complicated than what I remember now but the professor was convinced that it would take a great deal of time to put together.  Working with my friend Bob Soehl, we realized that the biggest trouble was going to come from getting access to the university computers since they were overloaded with students.  On top of that, these systems were cryptic (read specialized unique computers) that took more time to figure out than to program.  After some struggling, I had the idea to produce the program on the Commodore 64.  After some initial design and coding, I proved that it was possible to do it this way so I did it.  It was surprising how well the 64 handled the task and I didn’t believe it was working properly until I checked against what was expected by the professor.

Bob and I took the program and computer to the professor to show our results.  Not only did he not look at what we had done but he dismissed it entirely.  The impression I got was that he did not think that some little home computer was strong enough to do his complex task.  I’m sure he didn’t like us anyhow but I did think it was highly unfair of how he handled the situation.

In general I believe this was the overall impression that certain users had of the Commodore 64 community.  Somehow this motley crew of young computer owners was not as savvy as the users that owned much more expensive computers.  As the years passed, I came to the conclusion that people were paying too much for their computers and that companies like Commodore were really trying to bring computers to the masses.  Just because it is more expensive doesn’t make it better.  It just means that you think it is better since you paid more for it.

At some point, probably in the late 80’s, my Commodore 64 died.  Not sure what went wrong but I would suspect that one of the chips got fried.  I thought about fixing it but at that point things had changed.  I would not buy another computer until 1995 since I had access to computers either from school or work and did not have much interest in having my own computer again.  The philosophy was that if you work all day on a computer, the last thing you want to do is work on one at home.  This shifted in 1995 for some strange reason and it is easy to say that it is perhaps one of the best things that I have ever done.  That is another story however.

I still have the Commodore 64 at my Mom’s house in America.  Even though it is dead I couldn’t part with it.  There are so many good memories about either playing, reading/writing, or tinkering that it would be hard to ever let go of it.  I can be very sentimental.  I still have the first IBM PC I ever worked on as well.

Here’s to you Commodore 64!  Happy Birthday and may you ever be remembered as the computer that came home to people for the very first time.