1541 – Why so complicated

May 14, 2014

1541YUNO

The Commodore 64 has a disk drive that is unique in many ways. Not only is the Commodore 1541 said to be the world’s slowest disk drive, but it’s also big, bulky, noisy and has a reputation of being unreliable. Also, it works in an unusual way. In many ways it’s the disk drive that has defined our experience with the C64.

In addition to the original model 1541 there were also the updated models 1541C and 1541-II from Commodore. The drives have different looks, differences in hardware and in ROM versions, but the basic functionality and features are principally identical.

Some later models in Commodore’s 8-bit serial disk drive range were improved in some ways, but those have less importance today. For a C64 as a retro system, the 1541 is the de facto standard. Still, in this time of emulators and hardware add-ons, compatibility with the original 1541 disk drive is regarded as a must.

And today, for someone who doesn’t want to resort to emulators only, the large and unconventional disk drive brings some practical challenges. So understanding the 1541 helps us to understand the options we have for replacing it! Read the rest of this entry »

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1541 Ultimate

July 12, 2009

I came across this interesting C64 hardware add-on project some time ago and I was so impressed over it that I ordered one for myself right away. I have had it for some time already, so maybe I could write some thoughts about it.

1541U_setup1

1541 Ultimate with travel speakers

In short, 1541 Ultimate is a floppy drive replacement for Commodore 64, hence the name. It’s a SD card based solution which allows you to store and use disk images on the SD card as if they were floppy disks on a real drive. But it doesn’t end there. 1541 Ultimate offers an impressive list of great features that makes it perhaps the single best peripheral ever made for C64  to date. I’m not going to copy-paste the specifications and feature list here, those can be found from the project site.

When I got my unit, I honestly had an empty feeling for a while. I realized that 1541 Ultimate made just about every C64 peripheral I had obsolete and even offered more. Now that I have grown out of that empty feeling, here’s a little sum-up of my thoughts on the device. Read the rest of this entry »


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