Know your motherboards!

As a collector of vintage computers, more precisely Commodores =), I frequently hunt for that one elusive machine or model on sites like eBay, marktplaats.nl, etc.  Finding them is one thing, verifying that they are actually that specific type or model you’re looking for is an entirely different ballgame.

If you look into Commodore’s rich history of computing, you’ll notice that of, say a C64, several different types were released.  Some of these releases are pretty obvious, even for the untrained eye, like the C64C, with its Amiga-style case.  Others are more subtle and do require some more in-depth investigation to be absolutely sure.  One of these investigations I did recently was when I was on the hunt for a C64 “Aldi”.  A pretty elusive version of the C64, a rarity even, as it was only released in Germany through the discounter “Aldi”.
What makes this release special is the fact that it is a merger of two worlds, the “old” and the “new”: it’s made up of the old bread-bin case together with the smaller motherboard of the C64C models.  Furthermore, it features white/ivory keys instead of the classic brown C64-keys.

So, of I went, searching for this “Aldi 64” and was lucky enough to find one on sale on eBay.  The picture featured was not that of the actual machine so I had to dig a little deeper.  The serial number, and the fact that the production data on the case showed that is was manufactured in the US were good signs, but to be absolutely sure, a look at the motherboard would be necessary.  Why?  Well, as I mentioned before, Commodore made several releases of the C64 and one of them was the C64G.  It is in all aspects very similar to the C64 Aldi, but there are some subtle differences (and yes, it is not that much of a rarity in contrast to the Aldi-version).  One of them is the revision of the motherboard (it needs to be Rev 3) perhaps most important: the fact it’s missing the 9V on the User-interface.


The C64 Aldi arrives in its “custom” box =)

Motherboard revisions are “easy” to verify if (and for the C64, the reference is MJK’s Commodore Hardware Overview) you have a screwdriver at hand, or if the seller is willing to open up the machine, and they are essential in validating the version you’re buying.  Mine is a genuine Aldi-model, and it has all the checkboxes marked to validate it is what it says it is.

The C64 Aldi, truly :”a computer for the masses, not for the classes”.

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