Prosthetic Knowledge Picks: Commodore Christmas Demos

In this submission, we take a look at how a holiday season was expressed through the Commodore 64.

Released in 1982, the Commodore 64 was, at one point, the biggest selling computer ever, selling up to 17 million units in it's time. As a retail-focused product (as opposed to an electrical one), Christmas was an important time to attract this highly desirable present. As well as this, groups and communities around the machine emerged, creating shareable demos of images, animations and music for themselves, a highly humanizing response to a digital technology. It's happened with other machines as well (the ZX Spectrum, the Amstrad, various Atari machines, the Amiga etc ...), not just in it's time but also currently where communities exist around these older technologies. It also happens around file formats, for example, with the GIF net art community and the GIF Wrapping project where artists randomly selected together to produce something for each other.

Commodore 64 Christmas Demo (1982)

This charming demo was created by Commodore themselves, shipped to retailers to demonstrate the graphical and sound capabilities - via csixty4:

Commodore wrote their famous Christmas Demo in 1982 to demonstrate the capabilities of their new Commodore 64 computer and the upcoming Executive 64 (SX-64) portable. It was included with the test/demo disk that shipped with every SX-64 so dealers could introduce customers to the machines' advanced (for the time) sound and graphics. Though its character graphics and SID sound seem quaint by today's standards, the Christmas Demo reminds many Commodore fans of the morning they woke to find a computer under their tree.

Should you wish to get a copy of this demo and try it in an emulator, csixty4 have links to everything you need here

A Twisted Christmas (1987)

GIF via noname64

A production by an independent team known as the 'Underground SID Network', a humorous take on the Christmas season, featuring a choir of angels with sunglasses, gremlins dancing around a Christmas tree, moonwalking elves, and a row of dancing cooked turkeys. There where two more brand new productions in 88 and 89.

Jingle Disk (1985)

A release by a commercial company called Hi Tech Expressions, an animated Christmas story. Judging by some of the YouTube uploads of this, it brings many nostalgic memories of the time, such as this from cymongames:

Every year we owned a Commodore 64 my family would gather around the TV and load up this: Jingle Disk. It's a silly little story and animation with chiptups renditions of some holiday classics.

So sit back, gather your family around, and
LOAD "*",8,1

Merry Christmas (1989)

An important part of early computer culture was the medium of the magazine (both physical and on disk) Here is an animation released by German disk magazine Magic Disk.

Should you want to check out any of these demos or some others online from the same period, there is a web-based Java emulator over at the Commodore 64 preservation project here