Enter, and exit, the SX-64

I routinely check out Kijiji for old school Macintosh Powerbooks (pre-G3 variety) and Commodore gear. A few years ago I did a Canada wide search and found an SX-64 for a great price, the only caveat being it was in Calgary of all places. Well, some power that be must have wanted me to have it…I reached out to the owner to ask him if he’d be willing to ship, and by pure fluke he was going to be in the Toronto area that weekend visiting family, and would be willing to lug it over for me. So a few days later, and $200 poorer, I had myself a nice new SX-64.

The system came with an RS-232 interface, Super Snapshot V4, and a few floppies with not much on them. I played with it for a bit with the software it came with, a few games, mainly The Hunt for Red October, but practically speaking I couldn’t do much with it without some additional software. Back at my dad’s I had literally boxes of Commodore gear in storage, so eventually I managed to get out there and snag my old CMD-HD, a 1581, and some random boxes of disks. Because everything was in storage I wasn’t sure what I would come back with, but I did come back with some demos and a bunch of Commodore 128 disks, which didn’t do me much good… sigh. Still not much to do with it. I couldn’t even download D64 images because I didn’t have the right cables to create a null modem connection between my current computer and the SX-64.

Fast forward a few months and I found myself at World of Commodore, and luckily Jim Brain from Retro Innovations was there. Which means I could finally pick up some new gear, and that I did!

With all that, I was finally able to download some D64 images and start using them on the SX-64, fun times!

I used the SX-64 on and off for about a month but eventually had to put it away. The SX-64 by itself is a great machine, but to get good use of it I had to pull out my CMD HD, 1581, and the SD card reader..all of that stuff takes a lot of space, and detracts from the portable nature of the machine.. So after all that money spent, the machine went into the corner beside my Osborne 1.

But then…

When the bug hit this year and I was able to connect to some telnet BBSes using CGTerm, I realized that using a terminal on a Windows 10 machine just wasn’t cutting it. But how the heck could I get the SX-64 online? I did have the Ethernet adapter I bought at WoC, but being in a wireless house that just wasn’t an option. I started doing some digging and found out about tcpser, yet another Jim Brain production. Luckily I had an entire box of cables in the garage, and in there was a null modem cable and a USB-RS232 adapter! I was able to connect the SX-64 to my Mac Mini and…SUCCESS!, log onto a real Commodore BBS using a real Commodore computer!

This led me down another rabbit hole as I discovered that my terminal program of choice, CCGMS, was still being actively maintained (albeit by a new developer), and it had been updated for use on telnet BBSes. I spent the better part of the night "dialing" out, signing up for a few boards, and having a blast. I left everything looked up, and hit the sack.

And then disaster struck. The next morning I went to check things out, and my SX-64 was on a locked screen. “No worries” I thought, reboot, and off we go, right? Not quite. When I rebooted everything the system was dead. Garbage characters on the screen, nothing responsive.

Once again I was back to square one.

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