Commodore 64 (1982)

Commodore 64

About a year ago I bought this Commodore 64 from eBay US. I got it cheap because the seller didn’t advertise the fact that it was a “silver label”, and there were 4 pictures of the (not so good-looking) box before seeing an actual photograph of the computer. So I was the only person who bid on the item! It’s a bit yellowed on the right side and a most of the hooks are missing on the back, but otherwise it is in good working condition.

If you are a Commodore enthusiast like me, you know that the 64 with that label is one of the first few thousand models, and quite soon Commodore replaced it with the rainbow logo that was kept until the 64C in 1986. In the US the “silver” label was made of brushed aluminium, while most of the European models had a plastic one.

I’ve seen some 64s on eBay where the rainbow label has been replaced by a fake silver one, so how can you tell if it is genuine? From the outside you can take a look at the serial number (it must be low for sure!) and check at the Commodore 64 serial number registry page if it looks legit. On the side, the first two motherboards (ASSY 326298 and KU14194-HB) have a square hole where the power supply unit is plugged in. The 326298 has a 5-pin video connector like on the VIC 20 (composite only, no luma/chroma signal). Function keys can be light brown (leftovers from the VIC 20, Commodore style) or gray.

On the inside, you can check for the motherboard assembly number. It should always be 326298 for the US NTSC models and some early PAL units, and KU14194-HB for most of the PAL models. The next motherboard assembly number was 250407 so as usual there was some overlapping and you can find it in some silver, but mostly rainbow label, 64s. If there is a different motherboard but the serial number is low, it could have been replaced to repair it (well… probably not to repair it, since it’s easier to simply swap the motherboard from a working C64), otherwise it could be a fake.

The one I have is made in the USA with the motherboard assembly number 326298. The serial number is around 40,000 so it’s one of the last made with that board revision.

Commodore 64 - Assembly 326298

Since I like to use and enjoy my computers, I removed the plastic protection that the original owner left on the labels (he probably didn’t notice them); I don’t agree that leaving it in place raises its “collection value” either now or in the future.

Commodore 64 - Label

Here are the top, back and side views of the computer:

Commodore 64 - views

There’s a date marked with a pen on the manual that came with the computer, 7 November 1982 (exactly 33 years ago): that could be the day it was bought.

Commodore 64 - date

The date codes on the integrated circuits are all mid ’82 except for the PLA that was replaced at the beginning of 1984.

Edit: the PLA on the motherboard is the original one, a Signetics 82S100; 8411 is not a date code, it’s probably the hex checksum of the original file. Thanks to Aphexian for the heads up in the comments. See The PLA Dissected for more information, especially chapters 2.3 and 3.1.

Commodore 64 - motherboard

The back of the motherboard is protected by a copper shield.

Commodore 64 - copper shield

The two ICs that made the 64 so special were the VIC-II (6567 NTSC and 6569 PAL) and the SID (6581), that you can see in the close up below.

Commodore 64 - SID & VIC-II

The usual teardown of the computer:

Commodore 64 - teardown

It came with the User’s guide and the Programmer’s reference guide.

Commodore 64 - manuals

The Programmer’s reference guide included the full schematics for the computer.

Commodore 64 - schematics

One last picture of this 33 year old computer. I collect many systems, but the Commodore 64 has a special place in my heart :-)

Commodore 64

13 thoughts on “Commodore 64 (1982)

  1. Tim

    Looks like just the keyboard. I offered a full computer as a give away a couple of months ago, nobody was interested so i unfortunately had to dump the Commodore 1

    1. Giacomo Post author

      So sorry to hear that… maybe (next time :-) you can post a classified online and give it for free to someone who can take it from your home, without the hassle of packing and shipping it.

  2. Aphexian

    Stunning machine. I thought I would add that the PLA in your machine is in fact the original 82S100 based PLA. The 8411 is not a datecode but actually a checksum. Rev 3 (which was a bugfix) is the most common, but some VERY early models have a Rev 2. I have 2 NTSC silver labels and many other machines with 326298 motherboards and they all originally come with that paper labelled PLA chip. :)

      1. Aphexian

        You are quite welcome. The last tip I can give you, is that a dead give-away for a real Silver Label motherboard is the green power switch and cartridge connector. Later machines with 1982 boards have red and black power switches. Also the RF modulator will have a white channel select switch on the back. Thanks for the beautiful photographs of your machine. :)

    1. Giacomo Vernoni Post author

      If you bought your C64 second hand, maybe the previous owner swapped boards for some reason, maybe to make a working and good looking C64 from two bad shaped ones.
      Or maybe it was swapped during a repair.
      It seems unlikely that it got out like that from the production line. But you never know with Commodore… maybe they had some old defective boards in the factory that were repaired at one point, and put in new C64s :-)

      1. John

        True, you never know. I’ve had the machine since 1989, so whatever it was had nothing to do with a collector or “vintage gamer” type. I lean towards the random left-over parts at Commodore theory given the two different models of connector on the board, unusual caps compared with any photo I’ve seen and the fact all this appears to be factory and not a re-work.

  3. Tony Kovar

    Just for the record, The original C-64’s Including the Early Silver Label Machines DID NOT come with The C-64 Programmer’s Reference Guide. It had to be purchased separately later or at the time of the Original sale. It was a separate item and was not include with the computer inside the box. Only the C-64 User’s guide (Manual) was included inside the box with sometimes some flyer offers from Commodore and the original warranty card for the computer in the U.S. made machines. Mine was Purchased in Christmas of 1982 and I still have the original bill of sale. Tony K. :)


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