back to article Chap creates Slack client for Commodore 64

A Kiwi chap named Jeff Harris has created a Slack client for the Commodore 64. Harris has no explanation for why he thinks the world needs a Slack client for the Commodore 64, but built one anyway. As he writes, he just felt like it was a good idea to write one. So he did. To do so, he wrote a NodeJS app for the Raspberry Pi …

  1. hplasm
    Thumb Up

    “artisanal, locally sourced, homemade cable”

    Excellent- he should apply for oodles of startup money just with that description- bound to get it!

    The rest of it is v good too!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: “artisanal, locally sourced, homemade cable”

      You say that, but I notice that there is no mention of organic practicea or fair trade agreements.

      This makes me wonder if ethhically this ptoject is in the right place.

      Anyway I've got to go campaign for rights for house flies. For too long have they suffered at the hands of the white man.

      *sparks up doobie and leaves*

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: “artisanal, locally sourced, homemade cable”

        "You say that, but I notice that there is no mention of organic practicea or fair trade agreements."

        Yeah, but it's Dolphin Friendly!

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: “artisanal, locally sourced, homemade cable”

      I'll try "artisanal, locally sourced..." as an excuse the next time I can't be arsed to shave my legs.

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: “artisanal, locally sourced, homemade cable”

      Yes, but is it vegan?

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: “artisanal, locally sourced, homemade cable”

        Yes, but is it vegan?

        And I bet the polymer sheathing of the cable includes tallow too.

  2. Charles 9 Silver badge

    Is 1200bps that the practical limit of the C64 User Port? I know in the latter days of the C128 they came out with a 2400bps modem but that may have been specific to the 128 and may have required operating in Fast Mode.

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      I have a feeling there was a practical problem with using the full 2.4 k... Either it was only possible in simplex (one-way) mode or it blocked out the memory bus and either blocked screen refresh or the CPU. Whichever it was, not brilliant for realtime chat, so better to stick with 1.2 k

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        The User Port is controlled directly by the MOS 6526 CIA (Complex Interface Adapter), while the video was done on the VIC-II, a separate chip. I don't think the 6526 could halt the CPU, but the VIC-II certainly could (thus the CPU's speed limit, the two normally alternate clock cycles). Perhaps without something like a REU for faster memory transfer, the processing needed to render the video is what's limiting the throughout at the User Port.

        1. RNixon

          Aprotek sold a 2400 baud modem that worked just fine on the C64 without any problems.

          Aprotek also sold an RS-232 interface and with that, a US Robotics modem, and a copy of Novaterm64 you could get 4800 baud on a C64. No, it didn't shut off the screen.

          And if you had a 128 and a copy of Desterm, you could even get 9600 baud! But you had to have an 80 column screen and put the CPU into Fast Mode (which DOES disable the VIC II) to do it.

  3. steamrunner

    Top Marks!

    This guy gets top marks in the "Everest - because it was there" category for efficient use of valuable time and energy. Kudos.

  4. Pig Dog Bay


    I wonder if he was inspired by the show Halt Catch Fire, where the company Mutiny whose business started out as online gaming on the C64, branched out to online chat and then kind of a craigslist.

    Pint icon - have two if you can get it run on the Speccy :)

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Mutiny

      Christ, that would involve twiddling the voltage level on a pin on a joystick port on a joystick interface plugged into the edge connector and a constant loop on the spectrum written in assembly to read/write to it.

      Worth at least three pints.

      1. Lotaresco Silver badge

        Re: Mutiny

        I still have my own-built parallel port to RS232 converter for the Oric Atmos and the Oric Atmos and its printer/plotter. It's good for a whole 300baud and had the luxury of a 5V to 12V converter to get the right signal levels to drive an ASR33. The software side of that involves lots of bit tickling and poking values into memory.

  5. kyndair

    cool, just cool

  6. Lotaresco Silver badge

    I suppose

    "Chap creates Slack client for Commodore 64" is better for a headline than "Chap uses Commodore 64 as Raspberry PI TTY"

    1. Christian Berger


      Reading the wikipeadia page on "slack" it seems like this would be something that should actually run completely on a C-64 with harddisk.

  7. Ironclad

    Noble effort

    Have one of these to celebrate:

    Very tasty (if you find the bourbon overpowering, substitute vodka for that perfect Terrys Chocolate Orange in a glass).

  8. Graham 7

    Or you can have an IRC client (and telnet and wget) on an Amstrad CPC 464 connected via WiFi, without the use of a Raspberry Pi (but with the use of an ESP8266 WiFi chip with TCP/IP stack embedded, so again, it's mainly offloading the painful stuff).

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      If it weren't for PETSCII, a C128 in Fast Mode and with an RS-232 adapter on the User Port and a CGA monitor probably would've made for an interesting dumb terminal. Once upon a time, I direct-connected a C128's 1200bps modem to a PC's modem in order to transfer files between them (was migrating at that point).

  9. Dr. Ellen

    Major Technical Mistake!

    That's a Commodore 128. (I know. I had a VIC-20, a C-64, and a C128. Sequentially, not all at once.) Of course the 128 had a C-64 under the hood, but it also had a CP/M machine. Who knows what they were up to, in there out of sight?

    It may have a 64 sticker on top, but a REAL 64 didn't have that ledge on the back.

    1. davidp231

      Re: Major Technical Mistake!

      That's because it's a C64C - the later revision that was designed to look more like the 128, and had few other tweaks under the hood. And the C128 had a numeric keypad.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Major Technical Mistake!

      That's a Commodore 128.

      You really need to get your facts straightened out. A C128 consisted of both a keyboard and a "PC-like" case, not a single keyboard. And this is most definitely a C64, I know because I own one myself as well. That ribboned back was ideal to put the 5.25" in, especially when messing with multi-floppy games.

      Of course this C64 also had a caveat: the SID chip in this one is upgraded. It still has the famous C64 sound, but it's still different. And such I ended up with more C64 machines because I also wanted the old one :)

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Major Technical Mistake!

        No, the original C128 was an all-in-one shell. I should know because a C128 was MY first computer, and I remember it extensively (down to the Thomson monitor that at least let me switch between 40- and 80-column mode). The one with the detachable keyboard was the 128D, a later model with a built-in 1571 drive that only saw limited production because it ended up competing with the Amiga.

        The computer in the picture is a Commodore 64C, one of the last models that mimicked the 128's shell.

  10. juice Silver badge

    Bang those bits together, guys...

    I seem to recall people doing similar with a ZX Spectrum[*] at the Manchester Play expo a few years ago - I think it was either for Twitter or IRC. When all's said and done, you're just using Ye Olde Machine as a bare-bones terminal.

    [*] Admittedly, as this was a Sinclair machine, it was probably done with a lot of bodged parts rescued from landfill and was at risk of crashing if there was too much wobbling. We'll have none of that freshly organic artisanal rubbish here!

  11. Jonathan 27 Silver badge

    Fake Story

    So how is a slack client that runs on an rPi and just pushes input and output to a Commodore 64 a "Slack Client for Commodore 64"? It's just using the Commodore as a dumb terminal. It's the difference between an interesting project and something I could knock off in 10 minutes.

    1. Christian Berger

      Re: Fake Story

      Well we need to be fair here. If you look at the Wikipedia page for "Slack" you'll notice that they probably needed more than 10 minutes to find out how to turn it on.

    2. JLV

      Re: Fake Story

      >something I could knock off in 10 minutes.

      You slacker. I could do it in 30 seconds, with my right hand tied my back and blindfolded to boot.

      Kids these days.

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