Connecting a TTL monitor to the C64

If you used the C64 or C128 for professional purposes, working on a small black-and-white or color TV screen was quite tiring for the eyes.  The solution would have been to go out and purchase a nice Commodore monitor like the 1084S, but the downside to this was that it would have set you back roughly 300-400 Euro back in the 80s.  Next to that, it would have been only a partial solution as for things like word processing or programming, the monitors for the Commodore had the “color overlap”, which was the effect that many games used to create extra colors in the games by giving two pixels next to each other a different color, creating a “blur” between the pixels and hence created a new color.

The monitors that did provide this sharp image, perfect for office use, were the TTL monitors for PCs.  These monitors did not have this blurring effect, making text on screen show up in a high contrast.  So say you owned a PC as well, and you wanted to hook up that monochrome TTL monitor to the C64 (not good for games, but for office use it would be perfect) or get yourself a cheap but still “value for money” PC monitor for say 70 Euro and connect that to the breadbox?  Surely, it would be the perfect fit, right?

Right, but sadly, the abovementioned solution was practically impossible.  The video-output was quite different for PC and C64 so you had to be a bit of an electronics whizz to convert the C64 signal into a signal that a TTL monitor could use and make this solution possible.
The reason for this technical barrier was that a TTL monitor does not just expect a video signal (which the C64 provides), but also a “sync” signal, that manages the electron beam of the monitor (i.e. it tells it to go up, down, left or right).  It is this signal, that the C64 lacks.

Luckily there were companies that provided kits or readymade converters that did exactly this (i.e. provide a sync signal), such as the German Völkner Elektronik TTL-converter (for only 30 Euro) and make the impossible, possible.
Yes, you still had to fit the connectors yourself, as the converter came on a board without plugs for the video cables, but with the help of the ol’ soldering iron, you had a means to connect a cheap but good TTL monitor to your C64, turning it into the perfect programming or text processing machine!

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