C64 DOS HowTo

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This page is for people who have never used a Commodore 64 before, or who might have done so many years ago and just don't remember exactly how these things worked.

Contents

a short reminder

When you turn on the C-64, or reset it, you will be greeted by the BASIC interpreter:

     **** COMMODORE 64 BASIC V2 ****

  64K RAM SYSTEM  38911 BASIC BYTES FREE

 READY.

The C-64 is now ready to process BASIC commands you enter.

You will typically use LOAD and RUN now to run programs/games, either from Datasette (which is device number 1) or Floppy Disk (whose default device number is 8).

Note: Many original games, but also a lot of scene demos and other programs, will not work properly with more than one device enabled. Even devices that are turned off (but still connected to the C-64) may confuse serial communication. So generally it is a good idea to disable/disconnect all additional devices (usually disk drives, but also printers for example).

Joysticks

Admittedly misplaced in a "DOS" howto, this is probably the only other thing to know to get your retro gaming session started: Oddly enough, the majority of games uses joystick port 2 for single- or first player, so do not get confused about it - even if you stumble about one of the many existing exceptions to this rule of thumb. We were all plugging around joysticks back in the days, too :)

using the Datasette

If you are using a real datasette, first insert a tape and close the lid. In case you are using an emulator, attach (or mount respectively) a tape image first. These typically come in .tap (protected tapes) format.

loading a program

To load a program from tape, simply type

LOAD

followed by RETURN. You should now see

PRESS PLAY ON TAPE

which means you should do just that :) Once it is done, after a while you should see

SEARCHING
FOUND NAME
LOADING
READY.

to start the loaded program, type

RUN

followed by RETURN.

using the Disk Drive

If you are using a real disk drive, first insert a disk and close the drive lid. In case you are using an emulator, or drive emulator such as the Chameleon, attach (or mount respectively) a disk image first. These typically come in .d64 (regular disks) or .g64 (protected disks) format.

showing disk directory

To load the directory from disk drive 8, type

LOAD "$",8

followed by RETURN. You should now see

SEARCHING FOR $
LOADING
READY.

then type

LIST

followed by RETURN. You should now see the disk contents, similar to this:

0 "MY DISK         " 2A 01
65 "JUMPMAN JR."      PRG
599 BLOCKS FREE.

loading a program

To load a program from disk drive 8, type

LOAD "NAME",8,1

followed by RETURN. You should now see

SEARCHING FOR NAME
LOADING
READY.

to start the loaded program, type

RUN

followed by RETURN.

formatting a disk

Before being able to use a blank disk, you will have to "format" it. Note that this is really only necessary if you are using a real floppy disk - in all other cases simply create a blank image file instead.

Insert a blank floppy (or one you want to erase) and type

OPEN 1,8,15, "N:NAME,ID":CLOSE 1

followed by RETURN. You will hear the drive rattle like a machine gun for a second now (no worries :)), and then it will start formatting the disk track by track. This will take fair while (a few minutes). When it is done you will see

READY.

and you may use the blank floppy for whatever you intended to do.

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