Let me carry your C64

sx-64_mod_thumbWhen it comes to portable versions of the Commodore C64, the most obvious one that springs to mind is the SX-64, the world’s first color portable computer, which was released in 1983.
It’s portable, but with its 11Kg and quite large dimensions, it sure is not the easiest thing to carry around.

The others, the DX-64 and SX-100 (the dual-drive SX-64 and the monochrome SX-64), although they never really went into a production run, were equally heavy.
Still, the SX-64 is my favorite type of C64 as it just needs to be plugged in and you’re good to go. Screen, keyboard, floppy drive, they’re all nicely integrated.
This concept, of having everything integrated in a portable environment, meant that the C64 would be the ideal companion for the salesman on the road, who would have access to all his files and information at the flick of a switch, if only it would be more conveniently packaged and less heavy.

A couple of companies started experimenting with packing all this stuff in a more efficient way and came up with some interesting modified C64s that at first sure didn’t look like a computer as they were concealed inside… a briefcase.
Siemens Belgium made the “PDC Clipper” (PDC, was a Hamburg based startup ca. 1984) which was a briefcase system based around a C64 motherboard with a 3.5″ floppy and an electroluminescent high-resolution flat screen. The design was quite remarkable as they were able to fit all this inside a regular size briefcase, making the C64 suddenly extremely portable. Sadly, PDC went belly-up before they could sell any significant amount of units.

clipper

Another company that experimented with the “C64 in a briefcase” concept was Jansen EDV, who built the “Attaché”. Similar to the Clipper, it was based around a C64 motherboard but they opted for a regular monitor. The Attaché did not have an internal floppy drive but it did come with an RS232 interface so that a modem could be attached (ideal when you’re on the road).

attache

It all came at an extra cost though, as the Clipper and Attaché sold for around 2000 Euro, almost double the price of an SX-64.
Nonetheless, the fact that these “executive” modifications of the trusty breadbox were built, underpins the importance of the C64 in the early 80s as a serious business computer.

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3 Responses to Let me carry your C64

  1. I love my Commodore SX-64 for all the same reasons you mention. Do you know if any “C64 in a briefcase” units are still out in the wild? It’s cool to see pictures from magazines or screen grabs from videos, but to actually see one in person would be pretty cool.

  2. I do own one of these PDC Clippers, still in mint condition and never really used. My father used to build these at Siemens Lanklaar in Belgium. Most motherboards passed trough his hands to do the alternations needed to get everything fitted inside the case. Only about 80 units where ever produced. An original C64 motherboard was stripped from the power supply unit part to make place for an internal speaker. Holes where drilled troughout that area on the motherboard to let the sound pass trough to the bottom of the case. all connectors for external connections where also stripped from the board and rerouted to the sleeve underneed the lid on the right of the machine. A separate heavy duty power supply unit was built in on the left side underneath the power switch to accomodate to the extra need of power used by the printer/modem/screen. The modem that could be fitted inside the spare gap in the middle was the following: http://www.c64-wiki.de/index.php/Akustikkoppler
    On top of the motherboard an extension board was mounted with preprogrammed enduser software for easy access for the end user by mean of its function keys.
    The floppy disk drive used the following disks: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:3_inch_floppy_disks.jpg

    Because they couldn’t get these units sold, all remaining stock was sold to a local American Stock shop. So most remaining units will most likely be located around Limburg in Belgium

  3. Robby "The C= guy"

    Wow, that’s pretty amazing Ruben, and pretty neat to see that it all happened here in Belgium! Thanks for sharing your memories!

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