Commodore 64 Plays Bon Jovi, Retrogeeks Hum Along In Awe
By James Grahame
The Commodore 64 debuted in late 1982 at the (then) astounding price of $595. Millions were sold and all sorts of cool things were done with its custom graphic and sound chips. It didn't take long for people to figure out how to play short sound samples, but the machine simply didn't have enough memory to play back an entire sampled song.
Erin Lassley's brother figured out how to get around the memory limitation by streaming audio directly from a Commodore 1581 disk drive. The Commodore 64 was an odd duck -- its external floppy drives were actually stand-alone computers that read data from the floppy and passed it to the computer using an horrendously slow serial connection. Many C-64 users can attest to countless hours wasted waiting for games and demos to load.
For this hack, the audio was captured on a Commodore Amiga using a Perfect Sound digitizer and then down-converted to a 4-bit sample (halving the necessary data rate). The data was then streamed off the floppy and played back in real time on the C-64. You could accomplish the same thing with a $2 microcontroller and an SD card these days, but pushing vintage hardware to the limit is far more enjoyable to behold.
Playing Led Zeppelin on a C64 [Hackaday.com]