Instructables

Copying and Distributing Old Commodore 64/128 Datacasettes

Using only a computer and a tape recorder you can copy the old datacasettes on to your computer. Then you can either distribute the information on the datacasette or copy it on to a new tape.
 
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Step 1: Supplies

A computer
A tape player/recorder
A male to male mini sound cord
A Commodore 64/128
A datacasette reader for the Commodore
2 cassette tapes (or 1 cassette and 1 tape adaptor)

Step 2: Make a program and put it on a tape

On the Commodore, make a program. If you don't know how just type this:

10 PRINT "HELLO WORLD"
20 PRINT "I LIKE THE COMMODORE 64"
SAVE

It will then tell you to press record on the tape. Make sure a tape is in, then press record. The screen will go blank for a while. When it comes back the tape is done.

Step 3: Get the computer ready to record

Now you will need your computer and your tape player. I use Window Vista. It is still possible to do with a different operating system.

First, connect your tape player's headphone or speaker jack to the computer's microphone or line in jack.

Next, open up a sound recording program:
Windows Vista - Sound Recorder
Other versions of Windows - Voice Recorder

If you can set quality in your recorder, set it to the highest.

Step 4: Start recording

This step is pretty easy to figure out what to do.
Put the tape in. Press record on the computer. Press play on the tape. Wait until the section of the tape that you want is done. Press stop on both tape and computer.

Now you have a copy of your tape in digital format.

Here are mine:
sdobbie2 years ago
My one will not record to the tape. It just freezes and I have to turn it off. I played the tape in a tape player and there was nothing on it.
zachery9803 years ago
ya you mail them lol
Here's a helpful tip (at least this is what works perfect for me):

The short version: turn the volume up on everything before you record, except your speakers. Long read ahead. You've been warned. It might be worth reading though if you're having problems recording a tape from your computer.

Turn your wave out (or equivalent on non-windows systems) in your volume control all the way up. Do the same to whatever devices which may have volume control that are hooked to the input of your tape deck. I also have a DJ mixer in my audio chain. When recording to a datasette I have the gain on the output channel on the mixer turned all the way up as well.

I believe the louder it is, the stronger the signal, thus less chance of creating a tape with errors. The first tape I tried to copy from my computer I had the volume at a more practical, lower setting, which resulted in a crash when I tried to load the tape onto my C128.

If anyone can confirm my findings, please reply to this comment.

And thanks for reading. Maybe I should put this on a website or something.
dsandds20036 years ago
you could even make your own cassette adapter off the plug on the back of it...All you needed was a 6 or 9 pin connector and a 74ls14 ic to make your square wave signal and you were set to go compute gazzette used to carry alot of neat ideas you could do to the VIC-20 and the COMMADOR-64 (still have a COMMADOR SX-64) guess it was a kind of primitive laptop as the 5" color monitor was built in. You also had room on the KERNAL ROM to add functions to keys for shortcuts.
The SX-64 was the first portable - an amazing feat for its day. I used to own one, but it sat in the attic with the 5 or 6 other Commodore keyboards and disk drives and I thought a collector would appreciate it more. So I sold it on ebay. I was sad to see it go - but I was glad it was not just a dust collector anymore. COMPUTE! was an INCREDIBLE mag - even by today's standards. However, i have noted that Apple seems to be trying to make their machines very user-friendly/hackable. They used to not want this. Now all the developer's tools are available to everyone, there is a UNIX shell etc. I actually am enjoying myself as much as I did on my AMIGA. There is even a C-64 emulator out there so I can play the old C-64 games (an AMIGA emulator also). It still does not have the 3 second boot of the good ol' C-64 - but it does rival the 20 seconds it took for the AMIGA to boot! No matter the platform y9ou are on - if you remember the C-64 Bulder Dash and were as addicted to it as I - download the free Rocks n' Diamonds (Google this) - it has the old Boulderdash levels that come with it along with the Emerald Mines from the AMIGA days - plus TONS more.
how about computer shopper =]. i miss those days.... wait, i wasnt around in those days.... well i like the stories anyways.
Computer Shopper was one of the magazines that contributed to the downplay of systems much more powerful than non-IBM compatibles. As always with our society, the loudest horn gets recognized - no matter how good or bad the horn sounds. Had Commodore the ability to run a company as well as IBM compatible companies did, everyone would have been enjoying the level of power we are finally returning to b/c the less-capable platforms have been getting caught up to what AMIGA users were accustomed to in the late 80's. However, at least with the Windows platform, the stability is still way behind with respect to stability and user friendliness. I have considerable experience with the main platforms of today. I am not one to bash a platform b/c of emotional ties to one or the other (as so many people are who undertake discussions such as these). All I care for is the best system for my money.
xenor lbrewer425 years ago
3 second boot, followed by 5 minutes of loading. ;)
lbrewer42 xenor5 years ago
Yes - but the Datel Action Replay cartridge allowed very fast loading. After it was loaded, you could hit a button and "warp save" the program to disk. Even long loading program like "The Castles of Dr. Creep" only took 6 seconds to load! Most programs took only 4 seconds! Remember Boulderdash? 5 seconds flat and you are playing! This was an amazing piece of technology that was not just made Warp-saving games, but also allowed me to change the sprites (characters) in a game to whatever I wanted; shut on and off sprite collisions (could run through your enemy instead of it killing you!); had a machine language monitor to hack the code of the game in progress (aka re-define things in the game you wanted to); ripped sounds samples; took screenshots; a full disk block editor - simply incredible. I enjoyed the same thing on the AMIGA as they made one for it also. From what I understand, they make this type of thing for the newer game systems nowadays. I have the system set up and now my sons are creating their own characters in the old "Doodle" program and importing them into games like Mario Brothers. They also have had fun reversing the roles of Mario and the turtles in Mario Brothers. So now, rather than Mario "bonking" turtles, you are a turtle bonking Mario's! A lot of fun!
leevonk7 years ago
so the commodore 64 saves data on cassete tapes? weird.. never knew that.
They did this b/c they were made when disk drives were just becoming available. besides that (back in the 80's when 200.00 was worth a lot more) the 1541 drives were selling for about 250.00. I do miss the days of being able to tell exactly what the computer was doing by the sound of the drive! I also miss the no-crashing, extreme hackability, and incredible access to the system Commodore made with not only this computer, but their Amiga's also. Those were days when computers were fun and not frustrating.
dude, loading a damaged tape onto a 64 is the very definition of frustrating, but apart from that I totally agree that those were the days...
Its been a year (wow!) since I made that last post. Since then I have been learning a lot and also have a new Mac. I have a Commodore 64 emulator I use sometimes. It is a lot of fun. I know they are out there for both platforms.
That's why I use old machines running linux... :P
That's why I am on OSX on an iMAC... sam Unix base - BASH terminal etc.! I had enough of Windoze
So did the Apple II and Radio Shack TRS80. I miss that sound almost as much as the sound of the old 300 baud modems! :)
1st time hearing tape transfer sound. I also fondly recall the sound of my Hess modem as I called a BBS 3 timezones away, anxiously waiting to hear the modem pickup the line and say hello.
bmlbytes (author)  leevonk7 years ago
Ya both Commodores and a few Apples and Atari computers.
Ahhh! the memories of pirating VIC-20 programs, with a dual cassette deck... I believe that some radio stations used to broadcast programs, over the air, that people could record and load on their computers. I never actually heard one, and I imagine the idea never caught on big time, as anyone inadvertently tuning in would be treated to that lovely, "AAWWWW eeeee aaaawwww EEEEEEEE" sound...
radiorental7 years ago
what would be really cool is if you transfered the audio to mp3 and then used an mp3 player and tape adapter. Tapes wear out.
bmlbytes (author)  radiorental7 years ago
It worked!
Even better… Record the programs onto an audio CD and play the track into the computer's audio port. The CD archives should last almost forever.
bmlbytes (author)  LasVegas7 years ago
I can't test the whole using a tape adaptor yet. I think this may not work though. The commodore tape plays pretty slow it seems. I don't know if it will work because of the speeds. I will try it though.
or just break out the back of the magnetic head reader to 3.5mil jack. I think someone posted an instructable on doing that to your car headunit.
bmlbytes (author)  radiorental7 years ago
I think your first idea was better. Breaking the magnetic head would ruin the value of the datacassette reader. I do have a tape adaptor, so I'll try that tonight.
bmlbytes (author) 7 years ago
HEY EVERYONE! I tried the whole thing with the tape adaptor. It works! You just have to pause the recording when the Commodore gives you the "Found Program" screen, and push play again when it looks for the rest of the program.
mrmath7 years ago
Remember, please only distribute programs you have the rights to. The C64 may be long dead, but the copyrights aren't.
bmlbytes (author)  mrmath7 years ago
Yes I know. Most tapes are homebrew however. Commodore games and programs came as either floppy disks or cartriges.
LasVegas7 years ago
Why not just stick another tape in the Commode's recorder and type SAVE again? I'm kidding… I know… You're intent was to demonstrate how to archive larger and not necessarily Loadable/Savable data. Archiving is perfectly legit even with copyrighted software. Those cassettes were not designed to hold data even as long as they have. Making a new copy is definitely a great idea. BTW: Copying cassette player to cassette recorder is just as effective. Attach headphones or speakers to the recorder's speaker jack to monitor the progress without adding background noise.
bmlbytes (author)  LasVegas7 years ago
Ya, I know you could just hook up two tape players together, but then you couldn't share the programs over the internet.
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