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Small differences
There are some small technical differences between the SX-64 and the common C64. For instance, the SX doesn't have a port for a datasette because, so reasoned Commodore, it contained a floppy drive. That may be true, but it was a problem for users who had may programmes on tape.

Besides, the SX has a connection for a monitor, but not for a TV. There was also a difference in grounding, so that for instance the Commodore Vicmodem couldn't be used. Even worse: should not be used, so turned out, because it could damage the computer.




Welcome to the nostalgic history of home and game computers  

COMMODORE SX-64 - the first portable colour computer

It's 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 colour 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 colour screen
The vintage 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 colour screen at the left in the computer itself. A colour 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. 

Not 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 4 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. 

SX-100 and DX-64
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

Manufacturer Commodore
Period 1983 - 1986
CPU MOS 6510
Frequency 1 MHz
ROM 20 KB (8 for Basic V2.0, 8 for Kernal and 4 for character set)
RAM 64 KB (38KB available under Basic)
Text mode 40 x 24
Graphical mode Vic-II 6569 chip
resolutions 320x200 of 160x200
Colours 16
Sound 6581 Sid chip with 3 channels
built-in speaker
I/O user port, cartridge slot, 2 joystick ports, monitor, serial port
Price Approx. 1000 dollar (May 1983)
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History of Home and Game Computers, by Erik Klooster, the Netherlands

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