Origins of a Commodore geek

geekorigins_thumbEarlier this week, my wife told one of her friends “how she loves her geek”.  Having overheard this and realizing she was not referring to my Spartan trained body (that would be “Greek” and let’s just say the muscles are well hidden these days) it got me thinking: “Did I become a geek, or have I always been one?”
As a self-proclaimed Commodore geek, who collects and loves his Commodore machines (and some other retro computers that take me back to my childhood), I wanted to trace back to the first documented act of pure Commodore geekness that I could remember.

But is it right in the first place to think I’m a geek, or do I rather fit the profile of a nerd? As it turns out, I shouldn’t go out on this tangent, as apparently being a geek also means you’ve got a little bit of the nerd bug as well and vice versa. Nonetheless, as geeks are more outspoken and a lot more extrovert than nerds, I shall continue to call myself a geek (It also saves me a lot of “find & replace” in all of my articles on the blog).


Back to the quest at hand, the search for that first captured moment that unequivocally shows that I’ve always been a Commodore geek, and didn’t just jump on the bandwagon of retro computer collecting just because it’s hot these days with all the money being spent at auctions for early versions of Apple computers and a couple of Jobs movies hitting the big screen this year.

Over the past few years, I found some old pictures, showing me as a teenager playing around on my C64. Now this would not be “geekproof”, as many teenagers in the 80s had a C64. It is after all the best selling home computer of all time.
I also found some computer programs I wrote (most of them games), but then again, most people tried to create some application or game in Basic or Assembler.
Was it perhaps the big collection of games I had? Again, no, as the C64 was every boy’s favorite toy back then and playing games was the thing to do on your breadbox.
The first thing that I did uncover, was that I kept using my Commodore much longer than its intended shelf-life, as I remember creating a neural network on the breadbox, whereas my fellow students at university used their 386 machines. The first documented proof that I was a Commodore geek, already back in the 90s!

The question now is, can I trace something like this even further back?  The answer came when I looked through a box with old photos and found some letters that I received from my first ever holiday sweetheart. I was 14 and me and my parents went to a holiday park in Summer where I met this French girl.  I guess she was roughly the same age and that Summer would be sort of my interpretation of the Don Henley’s Boys of Summer classic.
When the vacation came to an end, we exchanged addresses and promised each other we would write.  Looking at the date on the first envelope, I think I must have written that first letter the first day I was back home.  Now I can hear you thinking how sweet this all is and that this post is turning more and more into an article of the lonely hearts bureau in one of those glossy women’s magazines, but just wait till I tell you what she wrote in her letter, as a response to, apparently, the very first question I put in mine… I guess what you’re about to read, will prove that beyond any doubt, I’ve really always been, a Commodore geek…:

“Dear Robby, I was so pleased when I received your letter. Here in France, the weather is still very nice. I do have a computer, but sadly it is not a Commodore 64, it’s an Amstrad.”

There we have it, the proof: once a geek, always a geek, and I was one already back in the 80s!


P.S.: For those wondering if we kept on writing and seeing each other.  Yes, the letters went back and forth for the remainder of that year, but we never saw each other again.  Hey, what did you expect… she had an Amstrad!

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2 Responses to Origins of a Commodore geek

  1. Soooo sweet :)

    I also have a “proof of geekness” dating back to the 80s, and very similar to yours: I had a crush on a schoolmate, and wrote her in the summertime from the place I was with my parents. I can’t remember what exactly I wrote, but I guess it wasn’t so romantic, as the response was a postcard from Barbara with a message like: “Cheers! I’ll buy one for sure, but I can’t remember which one: C64 or VIC-20?”


  2. Is it also possible to evolve into a Geek? Out of curiosity I retrieved my children’s Vic 20 and Commodore 64s from the attic to “see if they would work”! This led to a “recovery” project for them complete with cleaning and re-soldering and parts from eBay( Germany, Canada,..etc). Then my interest turned to Assembly Language and I found disks on eBay and elsewhere as well as some books, I started writing many short codes to demonstrate to myself that everything worked. This proceeded along as a purely intellectual exercise with no thought of ever writing or playing a computer game…it has been enough to see everything and every code working perfectly!! So…..???…does this make me a present day Geek as my wife says?

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