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"Split" Two-Part Commodore 64?


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Be my guest!  Or take the idea and make a 3d model.. 😄

My name's Mark if you don't want to try to pronounce "x16tial" (existential), if you planned to mention a name, ok if you didn't, either way.

Edited by x16tial
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If I use it I'll certainly mention you in some way, but I may be making a 3D model based on the Compute article. I'm hoping David Pleasance will get back to me with more info, possibly from Dave Haynie. We shall see!

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15 minutes ago, x16tial said:

Wouldn't this have been cool: (sorry for crudeness, I drew it in about 10 minutes in MSPaint)

A "C64D" but with a separate, stackable, drive unit, containing a 1541(II) and a 1581.

c64dwithdrives.png

Now that would be a very cool thing to see! 80's me would have probably blown a gasket. 😆

Actually, that would probably be a neat mod one could do these days with the right tools.

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6 hours ago, Perifractic said:

That makes some sense... it was a way to turn the back of the C64 around to face you for convenient unplugging of carts. Thing is... I've been a C64 fan for decades and never saw this before. I just would have imagined a product that was publicly released to have been seen. Any chance you can find said advert?

I've scanned a number of 'collections' on archive.org this morning.    You know what's amazing?    After decades, I still recognized some of the 'cover' images on many of those magazines, especially the ones I looked at most often.   I  couldn't find the advert so far.    What I seem recall is that the image in the advert was one of those illustrations where it looks like someone put tracing paper over a photograph and traced the image below by hand.

I'll keep looking when I've got some downtime and will message you if I find anything.   Looking forward to the video either way.   

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I was up until 4:00AM doing a Google "deep dive", looking anywhere and everywhere for any pictures or mentions of anything like that C64, and I haven't found anything more.

However, in the process, like Snickers said, I am seeing things I haven't seen in decades, or never knew about to begin with!

Sometimes, the journey is just as rewarding, if not more so, than the destination. 😁

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21 hours ago, x16tial said:

Wouldn't this have been cool: (sorry for crudeness, I drew it in about 10 minutes in MSPaint)

A "C64D" but with a separate, stackable, drive unit, containing a 1541(II) and a 1581.

c64dwithdrives.png

I dunno ... older twenties me would have wanted that keyboard unit with the side 1581 drive, so it may be whomever came up with that particular vaporware knew their market.

I mean, I already HAD a 1571 and a 1581, and I just wouldn't have wanted to pay for a second 5.25" drive.

 

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12 hours ago, BruceMcF said:

I dunno ... older twenties me would have wanted that keyboard unit with the side 1581 drive, so it may be whomever came up with that particular vaporware knew their market.

I mean, I already HAD a 1571 and a 1581, and I just wouldn't have wanted to pay for a second 5.25" drive.

 

A 1571 would actually make more sense instead of a 1541-II in this prototype thing I sketched.
But that's a fair point, and if Commodore ever actually did consider a C64D there were many factors why it would have been scrubbed. Not least of which this was a very dated platform at the time.
If this ever would have launched, I think they would have had to count on people selling off their separate components to swap in the integrated unit.

Lots of fun to think about for sure: what could have been. But I am inclined to think this was a kit for separating the keyboard and mainboard into 2 units.  The keyboard of course gets the worst of it, but I guess that's the price to pay for the convenience.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've had another thought that makes more sense to me personally. I just posted it on the YouTube video but wanted to bring it up here.

Another idea: What if Commodore wanted to make a cost reduced console game system at some point. Maybe they'd call it the C64GS. Oh, that really happened? #haha

Omission of a keyboard would certainly fit the bill, and replacing it with a keyboard free shell that could be painted or have a large sticker applied to it or some such would not be a bad idea. Having it retain the notches for all the ports would be simple if it were derived by modifying the keyboard half of the shell. Presto! Price reduced C64.

The slots in the top of the shell could have been for potential future expansion (mating points for an optional keyboard) or an "expansion chassis that included a floppy drive, or just a place to put a monitor as has been demonstrated.

After using it to do proof of concept work, they eventually went with the alternative case for the actual C64GS that was shipped.

The fact that the top shell on the lower half happens to be usable as the bottom of a stock keyboard seems a "happy accident" that allowed prototypes to be used for some other purpose. The width of the slots at the back of the shell seem to correspond to earlier breadbin models that had different size tabs for the keyboard part of the shell. This would indicate it was an earlier experiment from closer to 1982 than the late 90s for a C64D.

Given that the notch that fits above the joystick ports doesn't quite match with the bottom half, it would be interesting to take it and compare it to an earlier breadbin model and see if it was a closer fit to that case, as the different breadbins evolved slightly over time as shown in an 8 bit show and tell video.

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Posted (edited)

@Perifractic

That was an excellent video as always!

I too am stuck between prototype or "industrial" use, though your "it's so clean" comment makes a lot of sense. Though it is possible it was covered with some sort of pliable plastic guard, or the environmental hazard was not so much "dirt" as maybe temperature or moisture. Still, you would expect SOME sort of degradation if it was a non-computer friendly environment to necessitate such a design. Having done this work in the past, I have still never seen anything like this.

The 8+1 Bit Guy's 3rd party idea suggesting it was a failed or commercial only product also makes sense.

Still... the fact the case is injection molded, and the wood, and you can't find anything on it ANYWHERE ... sure does scream prototype of some sort. 

My long winded way of saying... I am still just as lost as I was when I first seen it. I'm just glad it's being explored!

I am really hoping  someone will see your video and recognize it. 😁

Edit: Reading through the videos comments I see someone saying they had seen something very similar before, in a dirty shop. If the industrial idea is the right path, and there was more than one .. who made it? *pulls hair out*

Edited by Strider
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Watching the video and working through the logic, I'm pretty sure what it's not:

  1. It doesn't seem like a "64D" prototype. The "D" would theoretically have come out during the age of the 64C, and so if anything, any sort of "D" enclosure would be designed for a 64C case. Since the 64C case is already as slim as it's likely to get, the kit would more likely be a full enclosure for the motherboard, rather than two half-enclosures. 
  2. It could be a commercial prototype. Even though injection molds are expensive, it's possible that the company built a few units for testing, before realizing that this thing makes no sense. Like at all. 
  3. I doubt it's anything that came from CBM. It's just too much of a piece of junk, and the plastic isn't even the same color as the C64. If it was made by CBM, it would have the same formulation as the computer's case, and we should expect a similar discoloration over time. The fact that this case is a lighter color strongly suggests that the plastic is made at a different plant using a different formulation than the C64 plastic.

The only use I could see for a case like this would maybe be an environment where a disk drive or other peripherals need to be contained inside of a safe enclosure, for security or hardware safety. (ie:  a place with dust, dirt, or liquids). The keyboard module could then sit outside the "secure" area. But even then, it seems to make more sense to extend an IEC cable rather than make a special "split" enclosure. 

This enclosure was obviously made for the C64, and the design obviously show it's being used as intended... but other than a vanity project or something some executive pushed through against the advice of his marketing team, I can't see this ever being sold in stores... which is probably obvious, in hindsight, since no one can find any details about this ever actually coming to market.

 

 

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Good points. The only point I’d politely pick a hole in is about the plastics colouring. Commodore were renowned for wildly varying colour mixes and had more than one factory. That’s why there has never been a defacto established commodore 64 bread bin colourcode. But you make some good points for all the rest of it. It seems like it could just be an expensive third party fail. Now if I could just find an advert from before it flopped… 

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16 minutes ago, Perifractic said:

Good points. The only point I’d politely pick a hole in is about the plastics colouring. Commodore were renowned for wildly varying colour mixes and had more than one factory. That’s why there has never been a defacto established commodore 64 bread bin colourcode. But you make some good points for all the rest of it. It seems like it could just be an expensive third party fail. Now if I could just find an advert from before it flopped… 

Yeah, the case coloration is a bit of a stretch... but it's still markedly less yellowed than the computer. It just feels a few years newer, but I could be guilty of presumption, there. 

 

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9 hours ago, Cyber said:

I tend to thinking that this Split-C64 has a story similar to this modified VIC-20:

 

I saw similar VIC on EBay last night. That one didn’t have the cover over the keyboard, but it was still almost exactly the same layout. The machine in question had an adapter bolted on to the User port - and I mean bolted. The adapter was physically secured to the machine with screws and a metal plate.

I suspect that computer was used in a POS system, since the number keys were all still there, and the other keys had been relabeled. 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/124876276748?hash=item1d1334c40c:g:WCsAAOSwmnlgsUtm

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 8/30/2021 at 12:04 AM, Perifractic said:

Good points. The only point I’d politely pick a hole in is about the plastics colouring. Commodore were renowned for wildly varying colour mixes and had more than one factory. That’s why there has never been a defacto established commodore 64 bread bin colourcode. 

Having worked in a plastics manufacturing plant, there is always "off-product/off-spec" made. Colour of the original plastic resin may have varied from shipment to shipment to Commodore. Plus the raw material used to make the resin would also have variation too. If the resin supplier had multiple factories that would account for variations as well. These variations can be minimized with a stringent quality-control program, but at a price. 

The plant I was in would keep any scrap resin around and find buyers who weren't particular in physical characteristics so much as getting a discount deal on price. It cost money to make plastic, so selling recoups some of the cost and avoids making more plastic. 

Does anyone know that the case molding wasn't outsourced to a sub-contractor?

If the prototype theory is correct, most likely it was made at a location that wasn't the main factory using perhaps a different supply of resin, and certainly not the operators on the main factory floor. Heat/bake anything for a longer time will most likely result in a darker colour. That might explain the differences in colouration from a stock machine.   

As for the industrial use theory,  perhaps it was a split unit so that the main electronics were in an enclosure for some reason (intrinsically safe?) , the keyboard external so that if something went wrong with it  it would be easily and cheaply replaced. 

Anyway just some information and speculation on this retro mystery. Take it for the entertainment value that it is. 🙂

 

 

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35 minutes ago, BruceMcF said:

On the, "if it's for industrial control, why is it so clean?" front, it could be for Point of Sale, so the computer part can be secured in a padlocked enclosure so your low wage tellers don't sneak the C64 home to play games on.

Unfortunately very possible. I heard that a DVD burner was brought for a factory to do backups of PCs on the floor. It apparently 'disappeared' within a week.

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As s continuation to the industrial use case scenario, not all industrial environments are dirty. In my case where we had done things like this is the past, the killer was moisture, not dirt.

The Filler Room environments in many beverage production facilities are very cool wet areas. All electronic or computing equipment had to be sealed in an expensive stainless steel enclosure to survive, especially during the cleaning process.

There were many instances where we had to run keyboards and/or mice/trackballs into the rooms from computers we setup outside the room for special runs, or as temporary solutions to a problem that popped up with the normal equipment.

In some cases, we would put the computer in one of those stainless boxes even though it was not made for it, and run the HID devices out from there. In those situations, the computers were not in their original cases, we had taken all the internals out and mounted them inside the box to fit. We would make "adapters" and trays to attach the components to, often out of Lexan, so they could be mounted in the sealed stainless enclosures properly.

As one last example of not all industrial environments are dirty, a friend of the family worked for a company called Jagemann Stamping, it's metal stamping. They make a lot of things there, including ammunition. Sounds like it would be a dirty environment, but the place is incredibly clean. Still, computers are isolated from some areas to minimize the chance of damage if there's an accident. It's a lot cheaper to replace a keyboard than an entire system.

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1)This is not a prototype commodore of any kind.

2)This is not a rare computer.

3)This is a standard embedded system.

4)The unusual extra case halves have nothing to do with commodore home computers.

5)This computer probably survived because it was still able to go back to home computer use after it's working life.

6)It had been adapted into a two part case for only one or a handful of machines.

7)The already existing extra box was chosen for it's close fit to the commodore, but has nothing to do with commodore home computers and probably nothing to do with commodore in any way.

8)It was chosen to keep the computer clean and protected as the motherboard had to be placed out of reach of the operator, probably on the other side of a metal case.

9)Dust and dirt do not account for the split system because the cable that spans between them does not have a socket and plug outside of both cases as far as I could see in the photos I looked at.

10)If dust and dirt was the cause then this would not be the solution, as dirt entering the keyboard would not be solved by separating the keyboard from the motherboard.

10a) any solution to prevent dirt entering the keyboard would not require separation of the keyboard in the absence of a plug and socket.

11)The separation indicates the machine being controlled from the edges, input, output, on the motherboard had to have the controller so close to it and protected that the operator couldn't comfortably reach it, and so this short extension for the keypad was made, and may have transversed a metal case wall of the machine.

12)EMI, ESD, RFI are likely the cause for this variant. The effects of electromagnetic interference, electrostatic discharge, radio frequency interference on the whole machine setup AND/OR the effects of EMI and RFI from the machine into the local environment, are the most likely cause for concern which led to this.

13)shielding the motherboard and the remainder of the machine were perhaps enough protection.

14) I don't actually remember and I'm not familiar enough with the C64's anymore, getting old, so I would ask, are the ferrite beads standard beads used in the 64 ?

15) the value is equivalent to about one C64, plus a generic extra case that fits it.

I numbered lines in case anyone wants more info on a point, this message is not a BASIC program, but you can try to run it anyway.

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