6502

Around mid of December, news broke that Chuck Peddle had passed away. He was known for being the lead designer of the 6502 microprocessor. The 6502 was used to power, e.g. the VIC-201, the C64, and the PET, all made by Commodore International.

I still have my VC-20 stored in the basement. I bought in the summer of 1983 with nearly the entire money I had earned from 6 weeks of work during the school summer break. This purchase not only made my parents become seriously angry at me, it also set the early foundation for my future career.

Like everyone else who did not buy such a machine for gaming, I started to program the VIC in Basic. And that might have been the end of it because the very limited resources of 3.5 KB of RAM2 probably wouldn’t have given me much excitement in the long run.

Time passed, and I ended up with a ROM listing3 and instructions about programming the thing in machine language. That‘s right, machine language. I don‘t remember exactly whether an assembler existed for the VC-20. I, at least, had to put the machine instructions in the correct order manually. Oh, such fun.

Years later, when working on the implementation of some very time-critical, driver-level routines in 8086 assembler on a PC, I was finally able to understand the genius of the 6502 design in comparison to 8086 and how much it had lowered4 the barrier of entry for me.

Thanks, Chuck Peddle. RIP.

  1. In Germany, the VIC 20 was marketed as VC-20.
  2. Later, I bought a memory extension cartridge worth of 32 KByte.
  3. The book is titled „VC-20 Intern“ and is also still in my book shelf.
  4. I honestly don‘t know what might have happened if I had been confronted with the 8086 architecture in the first place.