Picture of Commodore 64 Laptop
This is a fully functional Commodore 64 laptop using actual hardware, specifically the C64C motherboard which was one of the last and smallest revisions. It uses a Gamecube power supply in place of the original power brick.

It's much greener than using the original configuration because you:

a) don't need a CRT
b) don't need a slow, power-wasting disk drive
c) everything is powered by a single power supply.

Also this is one less Commodore 64 that will end up in a landfill, wasting away to nothingness after once being the greatest 8-bit computer of all time, 2nd only to possibly the Atari 800!

Plus all of the ribbon cabling was recycled from old computers - it's cheap, if not free, and doesn't goto waste.
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Step 1: Initial Hacking

Picture of Initial Hacking
As mentioned before this started with a C64C motherboard. Its smaller than most, but I needed it to be even smaller. I chopped off the power input/joystick end and also shaved off the cassette port tabs. I ditched everything about the original case design except the size - I wanted to keep the whole thing at 153 x 10.53, which is about the smallest it can get with the 153 LCD
screen involved.

Step 2: Modding the original keyboard

Picture of Modding the original keyboard
The keyboard needed some hacking to make this size, specifically the function keys. I lobbed them off, bypassed the traces and then rewired the keyboard plug so the whole thing was thinner.

I recycled the original connectors so there was one less thing to buy!

The keyboard& with the function part sawed off. I opted to use the original keyboard because 80s computers had such great keyboards, why ditch em?

Step 3: Rewiring the Joystick ports

Picture of Rewiring the Joystick ports
A close up of the keyboard and joystick area on the motherboard. Some kind engineer put vias in for all the joystick connections, so even with the joystick ports cut off, it was easy to rewire. The new function keys are wired directly to the keyboard pins on the motherboard as well.
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nerd74731 month ago

Where can I get a cheap Vic 20?

nerd74731 month ago

Love it!

load"*",8,1 ahhh memories

great job

mbittle2 years ago
i found this cool, however I found by the makers of the commodore 64 this sweet but expensive new version of the c64
the Commodore64x
All hail Ben!.
wanna beco2 years ago
Whip that puppy out at a starbucks and there will be a "hipster-gasm". I miss my c64 more than I miss my high school friends!
You should make a Commodore 128 version of this
For all the sad people out there who don't understand why the C64 is still so important to so many, I've written a BASIC program for you:<br/><br/>10 REM * FOLLOW THESE STEPS AND YOU'LL SOON SEE *<br/>20 REM * WHY THE C64 WAS THE BEST SELLING *<br/>30 REM * COMPUTER OF ALL TIME *<br/>40 INPUT <a rel="nofollow" href="">WEB$</a>:GET CCS64<br/>50 INPUT <a rel="nofollow" href="">DEMO$</a><br/>60 LOAD "*",8,1<br/>70 PRINT "NOW I GET IT! A 1 MHZ PROCESSOR AND 64 KB RAM"<br/>80 PRINT "IS CAPABLE OF REAL-TIME 3D RENDERING,"<br/>90 PRINT "TEXTURE MAPPING, AND AMAZING SOUND!"<br/>100 PRINT "AND ALL THIS, FROM A MACHINE FIRST MANUFACTURED"<br/>110 PRINT "IN 1982 THAT SOLD UNTIL 1994."<br/>120 IF PCUSER$<>"SPEECHLESS" THEN END:REM * THERE IS NO HOPE FOR YOU, PAL *<br/>
whats sad is we could actually read that code logically and literally... why did monkey soft abandon Basic, the best way to introduce newcomers to programming?
A person who understands!
I LOVE it!
msholden6 years ago
Blast from the past. The Commodore 64 was great but I cut my teeth on a VIC-20 with 4K of available ram. After programming with the Commodores with very limited program memory you learned how to conserve memory and tricks. You could reach out and Peek and Poke to the 6502 registers. I built a speech synthesizer which worked with Allophones. Plugged it into the expansion port and had my 64 talking to me. I love your article which has peeked my interest. Unfortunately this showcases our age. Thanks!
Age is irrelevant we still can kick the butts of these young hackers, as soon as we find out where they hid our canes....
Wow , the memories come flowing back! Cobol, fortran, and Pascal were once words to my ear (still are). Thanks for the blast through time!
Your welcome,

Lets not forget the ELF, which was in electronic magazines way before the VIC-20. It programmed in Hex. Not to friendly but one of the forerunners as well. It was a hobby toy and I do not remember any thing else.

Does any one else?
No it doesn't. We haven't mentioned Sinclair-Timex yet. ;o)
Otherwise, Good on ya, msholden! You got it right. Mind if I add a few thought of my own?

Point #1 "Radar Rat Race" for the VIC-20 was about the only game I ever got hooked on. When it moved to the C-64, I thought it lost a lot of charm and lost interest. I still miss it.

Point #2 Tight is right! GEOS and GEM operating systems were incredible. They essentially duplicated the features and capabilities of Windows 2.0 several years earlier. They ran faster on slower processors and did much more with less memory. Either would fit on a 170K floppy disk (complete with your application) and crashing had to wait until Windows before it became understood in our language. Crashes just did not happen on Commodores.

Point #3 The VIC-20, C-64, TRS-80, Atari 400 and TI-99 paved the way for home desktop computers. If today's computers and software were relatively as fast and efficient as these old timers you would never need to turn one on. Your task would be complete before the BIOS splash made it to the screen.
I ran a clone of Ventura Publisher (an early GEM based competitor to Pagemaker) on a C-64 to produce a 24 page newspaper for several years. Speed was not really a problem.

Laughing at these gray haired computer seems a lot like a gangsta with a 9mm Glock poking fun at Bill Cody's Single Action Army Colt.... not too smart.
HAY im only 20 but i did start on basic retro gear. i learned on the BASIC language (i hate C+,ok with C++) and programming on PIC chips with only 2K mem available. i made it sing Merry had a little lamb and light 2 LEDs. wow i miss high school.
JohnNNJ2 years ago
Doogie Howser called. He needs his laptop back.
Krayzi992 years ago
I must say, I cant join any of you. I'm only 13, not born into the era of c64... sad, but not. Yet, I want to make this. make this, and use it like I have before... Yes, cake is deserved by thee, ben heck. thou deserveth cake indeed.
lol. I don't really talk like that, of course.
jolsavicky2 years ago
My first one was a Vic 20. The hours I spent typing in the machine language programs to get a word processor. Loved that machine.
sqeeek4 years ago
AMEN to them having awesome keyboards. I need to find an old C64 and make a keyboard for my desktop... What happened to us? Now everyone likes sqooshy, cheap, rattly keyboards.
i use a bigger-type keyboard just because pressing those buttons have better feedback :D



yes, epic.
thingy3 years ago
500000000 internet points. The C64 was my second computer(had a vic 20 before this) and had a-lot of fun with BASIC back in the day.
awesome, never played the thing but been listening to commodore 64 music a lot recently, check out Slay Radio.
MRedu3 years ago
Old is Gold...

Ahh.. c64.. I miss those days...
doomsdayltd3 years ago
im thinking of this project now since i have my hands on a commodore 64, but what i'll do is add a MSSIAH cartridge to it for music :D
ledartist3 years ago

Wow! I love the way it looks!
Somehow it looks more futuristic than today's high-tech gadget.

Anomn_Feck3 years ago
I absolutely love your work and have been following your projects for some time, you bring DIY to the next level and everything you do is awesome!!
MRHint3 years ago
Ben Heck, this is awesome! I can't wait to see your next project.
silvermane3 years ago
This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen! Now can we get one made from an Atari 130XE or XE GS?
Pauper6 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
JonnyMac Pauper6 years ago
Why do we build anything? -- because we can and the process of building satiates the desire to create/build, even when the device we're building is decidedly retro.
First: this isn't like taking a Porshe and turning it into the Flinstone car.
This is more like taking the Model T and turning it into a Honda.  It's a hell of and upgrade and modernization to a piece of equipment that has sentimental value to many, MANY people, and proved reliability.  (How often did a C-64 crash?)
Why does a painter paint, when printers can print.  Why do chefs cook when we have take out and delivery? 
A large part of the problem of this day and age is the majority of people are like that.  They want to 'buy', 'pick up', or whaterver else you want to throw in for consumersim, and be just like everyone else.  What we need is creativity like this.   Individuality like this.
mdwfg strods4 years ago
i'm late into commenting but hell yeah you're damn right!!!!!!
Can we "Amen!" here?
Or, often just to see if we can.
Owning something that very few people have, like a Porsche, is something that people can be proud about. Its just a matter of opinion. I think it would be pretty cool to have a ancient piece of tech in my room that I had made. Its something I can brag about, and even sell in the future.
zack247 Pauper4 years ago
shut up. you are just jealous that you can't have one
Pauper zack2474 years ago
No, I WON'T shut up. Ever heard of America ???? I'm allowed any opinion I choose !! I suggest you follow your own advice !!
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