Saturday, November 18, 2006

Commodore 64 and Linux

Back in 1982, a personal computer was released that would one day be a cultural phenomenon. The Commodore 64, if you’re not familiar with it, was an amazing computer for its day. It had games and applications galore and was easy to program.

The Sound Interface Device (SID) of the Commodore 64 has lived on as a cult classic. It sounds like a 70’s analog synthesizer or something out of a video game nightmare. It’s difficult to define, yet easy to understand when you hear it. It lives on in the form of hardware synthesizers like the Elektron SidStation, the HardSID internal sound card, midibox SID DIY project, the modern Prophet64 cartridge, software based synthesizers like the quadraSID and Goattracker.

VICE is a Commodore 64 emulator that is available for Linux. This program gives access to a number of Commodore 64 music programs. Here are some programs to download and try out with VICE:
CyberTracker – Old School style tracker
Prophet64 1.0 – Emulates a TB303, TR909, and an analog Synth; free version download
SAM – (Software Automatic Mouth) Old School Robot Speech Synth
White Box – One of many music collection disks
Cynthcart – Live performance synth
Retroskoi – Another live programmable synth

There’s also a huge number of C64 tunes you can listen to natively in Linux at the High Voltage SID collection, an archive of thousands of C64 tunes. They are pretty small and can be listened to in SIDPLAY or the SIDPLAY XMMS plugin.
High Voltage SID Collection – Archive of SID song files
SIDPLAY for Linux, XMMS plugin for SID files
VICE – Linux C64 emulator
• ReFX QuadraSID – This VST plugin works pretty well with FST
Unknown 64 – Another VST plugin
GoatTracker - Comes with source code, compiles on Linux - native tracker app

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