COMMODORE SX-64 - the
first portable color computer
one of the most sought-after items among collectors of vintage
home and game computers: the Commodore SX-64. Yes, it's a
phenomenon: the Commodore 64, the most popular home computer
ever, in a portable shape, including built-in color screen. And
it is a rare item. Of the common Commodore 64 more then 20
million units were sold, but the SX-64 didn't pass the 9000.
Although at first sight it are two
totally different computers, the SX-64 performed exactly the
same as the C64. The metal case of the SX-64 contained with a
few exceptions the same parts. Even all C64-cartridges could be
used, by means of a gap in the top of the SX-64.
5 Inch color screen
computer fan gets immediately excited when the front of the SX is
lifted: the front turns out to be the keyboard. Then he is pleasantly
surprised by the 5-inch color screen at the left in the computer itself.
A color monitor, 5 inch, from 1983! At the right under a tiny cover
there are five buttons, among others to adjust the brightness of the
screen and the volume of the built-in speaker. In between is a built-in
floppy drive, yes, a real Commodore 64. Above the drive there is storage
compartment, apparently to store floppies, although that doesn't seem a
good idea next to a monitor.
for game fanatics
On the front of this beautiful machine (that means at the other
side of the keyboard) is written: 'Executive computer'. So not
meant for the game fanatics: They were better served by the
common Commodore 64 connected to a bigger monitor or a TV.
But even if the SX-64 was only used for administrative purposes
the 5-inch screen causes trouble for the eyes. That is one of
the reasons for the poor sales figures, although the SX-64 could
be connected to a normal monitor. But who wants to buy a
portable that he needs to connect to another screen?
And there are other things that can be said against the term 'portable'.
As much as 24 pounds (10 kilo) weighs the SX-64. A German computer
critic wrote in 1984 that the handy handle made carrying the SX the
first kilometres a piece of cake. Was he a well trained athletic, this
critic? Or do I have to train more...?
Further doubts on the term portable were cast by the fact that the SX-64
had to stand next to a socket, because it didn't contain a battery.
All this, combined with the price of approximately $1000, held the SX-64
far away from the successes the Commodore 64 achieved. The
manufacturing, started in 1983, was discontinued in 1986.
De SX was for the first time presented at the Consumer Electronics Show
in the United States in January 1983. At that moment still under another
name, the SX-100, that contained a black-and-white screen instead of a
colour screen. But the SX-100 was never manufactured and the idea was
replaced by the SX-64. Besides the SX there also exists a DX-64: a model
with two floppy drives (for which the storage compartment was
sacrificed). But the DX-64 was manufactured in very small amounts, and
is thus much, much rarer then the SX!
Specifications of the Commodore SX-64
1983 - 1986
KB (8 for Basic V2.0, 8 for Kernel and 4 for character set)
KB (38KB available under Basic)
Vic-II 6569 chip
resolutions 320x200 of 160x200
6581 Sid chip with 3 channels
user port, cartridge slot, 2 joystick ports, monitor, serial
Approx. 1000 dollar (May 1983)
Article from computermuseum.50megs.com