Commodore Newsletter Articles
Page 4

More Commodore links          Articles Page 1          Articles Page 2          Articles Page 3

Articles Page 5          Memory Lane Articles          Member Biography Articles


Kaypro Computer Designer Dies     History of the Newsletter    Long Drive to Rescue Commodore Equipment

Please Pay Your Dues    Where Did Everybody Go?     I Can Still Do Commodore Stuff!

Radio Shack Survives          April 1991 Disk of the Month (Blast from the Past)          The Paperless Society

Let's Make "Obsolete" Obsolete          Calendar Madness          Where to Meet, Where to Eat


Designer of Kaypro Computer Dies

(Adapted from the New York Times)

Andrew Kay, the designer of the Kaypro II portable computer, died on Aug. 28 in Vista, Calif. He was 95.

For a time his company, Kaypro, was the world’s largest portable computer maker, ranked fourth in the PC industry over all behind IBM , Apple Computer and RadioShack.

Stephen M. Case, who would become chief executive of Quantum Link, later America Online, bought one as his first computer, adding a 300-baud modem to explore the fledgling online world.

The Kaypro II first appeared in 1982 at the West Coast Computer Faire in San Francisco. The previous year’s exposition was dominated by the Osborne I computer, which weighed 24 pounds, had a five-inch display and came with a handful of programs for what was then a breakthrough price: $1,795.

The next year the Kaypro II generated a great deal of enthusiasm by surpassing many of the Osborne’s features.

Both machines were described as “luggables,” but the Kaypro’s case was rugged metal, in contrast to the Osborne’s plastic shell, and it had a nine-inch cathode ray tube display. It weighed 29 pounds and, like the Osborne I, sold for $1,795.

Neither computer initially ran the MS-DOS operating system, which would ultimately prove to be their doom.

Kaypro’s revenue exceeded $120 million in 1985. But the company never successfully made the transition to the IBM-compatible world. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1990, and its assets were liquidated in 1992.

Andrew Francis Kopischiansky was born on Jan. 22, 1919, in Akron, Ohio, and received an engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1940.

After moving to California in 1949, he went to work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he was involved in the Redstone rocket development program. His family changed its surname to Kay that same year.


History of Fresno Commodore User Group Newsletter

By Dick Estel

The earliest history of the club newsletter is lost in the mists of history, except for two facts, one known and one assumed.

We know what the first issue looked like and that the editor was one Chuck Yruligi. We have a copy of this one page publication, and there is a scanned version on line here.

We assume that the date was November, 1981. We also have the second issue, which had two pages, and the third, which doubled again, to four pages. We have several other issues from the first year. The first issue with a date on it is December 1983, so we calculated the date of the inaugural issue by counting back from there.

The newsletter was called Tips, Pokes, Peeks and Jokes, a name it retained until July, 1989 (the circumstances of the change are covered later in this article). The name was appropriate at that time, because the first few issues were literally a bunch of tips and some of the various Peeks and Pokes, which were not documented by Commodore, but which were being learned and shared by users across the country.

From 1981 until I joined there were six editors, some of whom were known to me, and some of which were just names on the masthead. I know nothing about our founding editor, Chuck, but the second editor, Deb Christensen, was still in the club when I joined. At that time she was the BBS SYSOP, and was otherwise not active, so I never met her in person.

The next two were Randy Dodds and George Beardon, also unknown to me. They were followed by Randy Smith, who has not been active in the club for a decade or so, but who has been in touch with us now and then.

Then there was Mark Miller, who held the job when I joined, and was my immediate predecessor in the job.

The issues from that first year appear to have been printed with a daisy wheel printer, or maybe even done on a typewriter and photocopied. Beginning with that December 1983 issue, the printing is obviously from a dot matrix printer, no doubt an early Commodore product, based on the fact that it did not correctly produce letters with descending parts (g, p and y). Next we have a couple of letter quality issues, then in January 1984, what looks like a much-improved dot matrix printer that produces the descenders.

Various changes are visible over the next three years, but when we get to March, 1987, we have the format that was in use when I joined (although there are some variations in a few issues). The printing was being done on a daisy wheel printer, with the text cut up and pasted on to a master page, with graphics printed on a dot matrix printer and pasted in where desired.

The January, 1988 issue was co-edited by Mark Miller and Randy Clays , who was the equipment manager and is still around, but this was his only appearance in that job; Mark took over in February and continued until I accepted the job in July (I am only now realizing that Mark did the job for just six months before passing it off on me. For shame, Mark.)

Mark had been president of the club and remained a member for several more years, taking care of the printing as well as other tasks in the club, notably vice president.

When I took the job, it was my desire and intention to switch the production of the newsletter to a desktop publishing program, so that all the elements of a page would be part of a single file, and cutting and pasting would no longer be required. The conversion began in October, 1988, when two pages were produced with Paperclip Publisher, which was a reasonably good program at the time, but very tedious to work with.

Meanwhile, I acquired geoPublish and the mandatory RAM expansion unit needed to make it usable, and did four pages with it in November, and the following month, the entire newsletter was done with geoPublish.

There were some complaints about the readability of the dot matrix type, especially by our older members (believe it or not, I was not one of those at that time). With GEOS programs, the font is printed as a graphic, so the quality of the printer driver was key. I got in touch with a programmer who belonged to a club in Eureka , and he wrote a two-pass driver for us, which improved the type somewhat. Other programmers were working on improved drivers, and eventually I found a three-pass driver on Quantum Link that gave us a very acceptable printout.

In addition to wanting to do the newsletter with a desktop publishing program, I desperately wanted to change the name, which I thought had outlived its meaning. It took some work to convince some of the long-time members, but eventually we held a contest which produced three finalists: Keep the existing name, “Comm-Pute,” and “The Interface.” The latter was my favorite and I’m happy to say it was chosen and continues to grace the masthead, 25 years after it was first introduced.

Like most club newsletter editors, I eventually reached a point where I needed a break. I will not try to research the dates of the later editors, but will list them with a few comments.

First was Dennis Fithian, who bravely agreed to produce the newsletter with geoPublish, despite never having used GEOS before. I gave him some training, but the steep learning curve of the system, and his personal schedule contributed to the newsletter being late and not quite up to par, and he wisely decided to step down after a few issues.

His replacement was Juanita Eroles, who had moved to Fresno from Sacramento , where she had edited the local Commodore group newsletter. With this experience, she was able to do a fine job.

Next up was Sandy Dippolet, who had already made many contributions to the club. He did the newsletter using The Write Stuff word processor, which produced excellent results. When he needed a break, I agreed to take over again, with one provision – I would do the newsletter using Microsoft Publisher on my PC. Although there were a few negative comments about not using Commodore equipment, my thought was that content was the important thing, and there were certainly no problems with readability.

My next successor was our illustrious president, Rob ert Bernardo. He handled the job for a few issues spread out over quite a few months, but his busy schedule prevented him from devoting the necessary time to the project. At this point we were afraid we might have to discontinue publication, which often also leads to the end of a club.

Fortunately a hero stepped in to save the day – he who continues to carry the mantle, our long-distance savior, Lenard Roach of Kansas City. Although there are some challenges in being 1700 miles from the club’s base of operations, Lenard has come through in good times and bad, and kept the newsletter and possibly the club from becoming NOTHING BUT history.


The Long Drive to Rescue Commodore Equipment

Robert Bernardo

Though I had mentioned it to the Pacific Northwest Commodore clubs, nobody took up Mike Powell's offer to pick up his C= equipment in Maple Falls, Washington, just south of the Canadian border. His initial e-mails just mentioned a flat C128, a C128DCR, and a couple of Amiga 500's. After several months, Mike was ready to throw the equipment in the trash. I offered to rescue the equipment, even though Maple Falls was over 1,000 miles away from me.

I had returned to California on August 4, 2014, after being a week and a half in Las Vegas for the Commodore Vegas Expo and the Creation Star Trek Convention. I departed for the Pacific NW on August 6, my objectives being to get that equipment in Maple Falls, to visit Stephen Jones at the Living Computer Museum in Seattle, to deliver broken equipment and pick up repaired C= hardware from technician Ray Carlsen in southern Washington, and to meet with officers of the Portland Commodore User Group (and to go to a Quarterflash concert in Portland, too). An ambitious schedule, especially since I was to be back in Stockton, California on August 10 for the Filipino Barrio Fiesta celebration!

I actually arrived in Portland, Oregon at about 1:30 a.m. on August 7, but I didn't have much restful sleep at the Motel 6, due to the traffic noise from the nearby freeway. By 10 that morning, I was back on the road and heading north. So, the 10+ hours of driving the previous night was added to another 6 hours of driving to get to uppermost Washington. Traffic through Olympia-Tacoma-Seattle was less troublesome than I thought it would be, i.e., no traffic jams and just a few slow-downs. I entered the city of Bellingham and then turned east toward Maple Falls. No freeway now... it was a rural highway winding through the hilly Washington countryside with mountains in the distance. After an hour and a half driving through the hills and trees, I found Mike's modest house in a small housing development.

I pulled into the gravel driveway and shut off the car's ignition. From within the house, I heard the bark of a big dog. Uh-oh, would I have to contend with a dog?!

Mike’s wife walked out of the front door… without a dog. She smiled and said that the dog was in the house and would not bother me. She also told me that Mike was out in the back and that I should drive car around the side of the house to the backyard.

I drove over the grass and parked under the trees. The late afternoon sun was bright, but there was a breeze, and it was neither hot nor cold. I got out of the car, and Mike walked up. We shook hands, and he showed me what he had taken out of the storage shed – Commodore and Amiga computers, drives, cables, software, and documentation. There was still more in the shed. However, he warned me; the large, wooden shed had had a leaky roof.

Washington has always had significantly more rain than California. For many years California has gone through drought conditions. On the other hand, Washington has so much rain that it has the only rain forest in the lower 48 states.

What did Mike’s leaky roof mean to me? It meant that I would be entering a very wet storage shed. I wasn’t wrong. I walked into the humid, dank environment of the shed. I was immediately hit by the smell, the smell of mold and mildew. Much of the leftover hardware in the shed was covered with moldy dust. Some bits looked like they were covered with slimy mold. And I could have sworn that fungus was growing in some areas of the shed. I looked at the shed’s ceiling and noticed where it had collapsed and had let the rain in.

I thought for a moment… was I breathing in moldy air? Was I contaminating my hands anytime I touched anything in that shed? Was I endangering my health? No, I had to carry on.

I started carrying keyboards and disk drives out into the sunshine to let them dry off. I pulled out interesting software packages with their mold-blackened, pages-stuck-together documentation. I dug around masses of dirty, tangled cables.

Then Mike showed me a room in the back of the shed. He had it lit dimly. In that back room, Mike had stored thousands and thousands of 5 1/4“ and 3 1/2” floppy disks in cardboard and wooden boxes – all those floppies full of programs. Those floppies looked like they were covered with a layer of mold. Heck, I didn’t want to transport that contaminated stuff in my car. I told Mike that I didn’t have room in my car for all those floppies… which was the truth. I had expected just a few Commodore and Amiga hardware items, but Mike was giving away much more than that. O.K., I would grab as much hardware as I could and a little bit of the software. Well, some of the hardware would have to stay, like the unreliable, black brick, C64 power supplies, and the Amiga 2000 which had a missing top cover and which had been fully exposed to rain pouring into it from the leaky shed roof. Mike said that he would dispose of the software.

As I let the goods dry off in the sunshine, Mike and I talked. Why was he ridding himself of his Commodore and Amiga items? More or less, he said it was time for them to go. Had he bought all of these items? No, as a member of the Upper Peninsula Commodore Home Users Group (UPCHUG), he had received them from other users. Mike was retired; what had he done in the past? To my surprise, he said that he had worked on building Saturn V boosters for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Wow, a person who actually worked on the rockets that sent man to the moon! So, we talked about his work on those rockets of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Mike had to go in for dinner, and I had to go back to Bellingham and find the Motel 6 where I would spend the night. I packed the hardware into the car; along with other monitors and C64’s I had brought from California for Ray Carlsen to repair; it filled all the back seat and the front passenger seat. After the car was I packed, Mike and I talked a bit more, and I assured him that the Commodore hardware would be checked out by Ray Carlsen the next day and that the moldy documentation would be photocopied onto fresh paper. I thanked him for the goods, and I left for the motel.

That night I booked into the motel and found a local Thai restaurant where I had a fine dinner.

The next day I drove south to Seattle, arriving at the Living Computer Museum just after 1 p.m.. I asked for Stephen Jones and was led upstairs to the exhibits. While I waited, I looked at the mint-looking C64 and Amiga 500 on display, among other classic computers. Finally, Stephen showed up, and we were both glad to see each other. The last time we met up was back in 2009. He showed me around, including the room with the mainframe computer and the museum storage room which had many more Commodores and Amigas waiting to be restored for future exhibit.

It was too brief of a visit, and I left by 3, hoping to beat the Seattle rush-hour traffic. Seattle traffic was fine; it was the Tacoma-Olympia traffic farther south which was the killer. For an hour or so, my car moved at 25 miles per hour or less. Finally, I got past the traffic and was back to normal freeway speeds.

I got to Ray Carlsen’s house at about 6:30 p.m., and I apologized for my wrong estimated time of arrival. Ray was gracious and told me that there was no problem. After telling Ray about my adventures in Maple Falls, I started unloading Mike’s Commodore hardware out of my car. “Look, Ray. Another RAMLink for you to test!”

In return, Ray handed back the VIC-20 and Commodore monitors he had repaired and which I had to bring back to California. Since Ray didn’t work on Amiga 500’s, I left those in the car. If necessary, I could bring those to the repair technician of The Other Group of Amigoids in San Jose, California.

After a couple of hours with Ray, I left for Portland, Oregon and my hotel there. I stuck to my schedule for the rest of the weekend -- meeting with PDXCUG officers, going to the Quarterflash concert at the Bite of Portland, and making it to the last hours of the Filipino Barrio Fiesta.

Epilog – Here are the hardware results of the journey to rescue the equipment (condensed from Robert's original article): Three Amiga 500s; one 1351 Commodore mouse and one Amiga mouse; one RAMLink, two C128Ds, three 1581s; one 1541-II, one 1571, one Excelerator plus drive; one C128; assorted power supplies, software, etc.


Please Pay Your Dues

Back in the day, the club was pretty strict about dues payment. If you didn’t pay, you got a two or three month grace period, then you were off the mailing list.

We’ve become a lot more lenient in recent years. In fact, not much short of death will get you off the list now.

Even so, the club still needs you to pay your dues if it’s within your ability to do so. Our expenses have decreased over the last few years, but our income has also virtually disappeared.

Our only regular expenses are the club lunch and a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. We used to take in quite a bit from equipment sales, but we’ve had to divert this money to CommVEx, so dues provide the bulk of our revenue.

It should be noted that Robert Bernardo and Lenard Roach incur some personal expenses with what they do for the club, and have not asked for reimbursement. If they ever sue for back pay, we are REALLY in trouble!


Where Did Everyone Go?

By Dick Estel

When I joined the Fresno Commodore User Group in 1988, we had close to 100 members, and an attendance of about 30 at the Saturday meetings.

A few years ago we had some meetings at which Robert and I were the only ones in attendance. We’ve been fortunate since then to have a small influx of new members who attend regularly – Roger, Brad, Louis, Vincent and Greg.

This got me thinking about some of our past members, especially when I ran across a folder containing old membership lists. Looking at the roster for late 1995, I found it contained 43 names, of which only Robert and I are still members.

In 2006 we had a reunion lunch, to which we invited every former member we could find. Quite a few attended, and I talked to others by phone or email. The list contains six names of people that I was in touch with at that time, but not since. (I was also in touch with at least seven people who are not on that particular list.)

The rest of the list breaks down as follows:

9 are known to be deceased
5 have been heard from in the last two years
9 have had no contact with the club for ten years or more
12 are names of people I simply don’t remember. Of course, that also means no contact in a decade or more.

We’ve honored a few of these long-gone members with our Memory Lane series, and we’ll have a few more of those. But looking at this list brought back some memories, and also made me thankful for the small but faithful group we have become.


I Can Still Do Commodore Stuff!

By Dick Estel

It’s been quite a few years since I was discussing the fact that I rarely used my Commodore any more, and one of the guys in the group commented, “You’re in danger of becoming a Commodore user in name only.”

That time has long since arrived. I donated all my equipment except one CMD hard drive to the Fresno Commodore Group years ago. A couple of years after that I came into possession of an SX64. It sits in a corner, and has been opened up for use maybe five times in the three years or so since I acquired it.

Other than helping launch a program at our user group meetings, the only thing I do now with a Commodore is make copies of our library and new member disks. Usually I do that at the meetings, while we’re eating lunch. My CMD hard drive has all the software needed for this project, including 1541 disk images of the four sides of those disks. This allows each side to be copied to a 1541 or 1571 in a single pass.

I had used up all but one set of disks, so a few months ago I took the hard drive to a meeting, set it up, and happily started copying. Except that nothing would copy. I tried some different blank disks, with no success. Finally it got to be time for the meeting, so I abandoned the project.

In January I tried again, and again, no luck. Robert Bernardo plugged in a cartridge with a copy program, and I made a couple of copies using our single 1571 drive, which requires three disk swaps. Because of the length of time needed to copy each side, I ended up with only one copy of each disk.

All the disks I use are recycled, and by this time I had decided that the problem was that some of these disks were not actually compatible with Commodore, although they were double density. Fortunately I had some other disks   Back at home a week or two later, I decided to bite the bullet and dragged out the SX and loaded up Maverick. This program has a lot going for it, not least of which is a visual display that shows when disks have errors. I can no longer recall if the program is supposed to be able to correct the errors when copying, but one disk displayed bad places on about a third of the sectors, on both the master disk and the copy.

I did not want to risk sending bad disks out to our new members, so I finally set up the CMD hard drive, which I knew had good copies of the original disk sides. Back in the day, the next steps would have been quick and easy, but no more. In my setup, as well as at the club meetings, the drive was connected to a flat C128 with Jiffy-DOS. The hard drive has a menu program which is set up so that once I assign the proper drives numbers to the hard drive and the floppy drive, I have only to press the C128 reset button to boot the menu.

From here it’s a simple process to select the copy program, which loads quickly, and is so well designed I can still remember how to use it.

Well, there’s no Jiffy-DOS on my SX64. This meant I would have to type in a lengthy DOS command to get to the partition containing the menu program. I never learned these commands, since one of the best features of Jiffy-DOS is that it does the dirty work for you.

I now had to find my hard drive manual, dust it off, and locate the commands, not easily found because the idea of an index entry that says “DOS commands” seems to have escaped the writers of all Commodore drive manuals.

Finally I located it in Section 9, with the not exactly obvious title of “Command Reference.” I had a general idea of the command string, but the location of commas, quotes, and colons is critical, and only with the help of the manual was I able to type


This opened up partition number 15, where the relatively simple command of

LOAD“MENU”,8,1 brought up the menu, and the rest was easy.

I made a half dozen copies of each disk, wisely put a paperclip in the manual at the crucial location, labeled the disks, and felt the satisfaction of still being able to do “Commodore stuff” after all these years in “retirement.”


RadioShack Avoids Shutdown

Introduction by Robert Bernardo

It's been years in the making but on February 5th, I saw the news that Radio Shack was declaring bankruptcy. Its many stores were going to close. I've been going to Radio Shack since the 1970's but less and less as the years progressed. In the 70's and 80's, I would go there for the audio equipment --mics, speakers, and cabling. Then in the late 80's and 90's, I went for the floppy disks for my Commodores and Amigas and blank videotapes for my Beta videocassette recorder. Of course in 2005, it was for the Hummer DTV (off-shoot of the C64 DTV). In these last years, it would be for an audio adapter, patch cord, switch, even computer speakers. But I was not a regular customer... I would just pop in every once in awhile, whereas in the early years, I would regularly visit to see what they would have. In the early years, it was a must-have to get the Radio Shack catalog; I would drool over the stereo equipment, even the Tandy 100 a.k.a. their portable, laptop computer.

The catalog was discontinued a few years ago, and it wasn't the same to browse through their website. It wasn't the same, because in the early years, I'd see the same, long-time employees and build up a relationship with them.

I've read that 1,700+ stores will remain open. These would be the franchise stores and the stores which be more like Sprint stores than Radio Shack stores. Even with the reduction in the number of stores, this new Radio Shack still would have many more storefronts than other chain stores.

I suppose I should visit Radio Shack for old times' sake... just to reminisce. Just to look at the trendy toys and those patch cords and adapters again.

Now the question is... will any of the Radio Shacks stay open in my area?)


(Compiled from information on line, including the New York Times)

Radio Shack, where computer geeks go to buy cables and other accessories, has narrowly escaped a complete shut-down, thanks to wireless carrier Sprint and New York hedge fund Standard General.

Of course, the chain guided many people into the home computer revolution back in the day, through its house brand Radio Shack computers. TV’s, cell phones, and countless other products have been part of the mix, but as on-line retailers and giant big box stores like Best Buy have risen to prominence, Radio Shack became largely irrelevant.

The reorganization plan will keep about 1,740 of the chain’s stores in operation, out of more than 4,000. As many as 7,500 jobs will be saved. According to a store clerk, five of the ten stores in the Fresno area will remain open.

Radio Shack will become an electronics convenience store of sorts, focusing on things like Bluetooth headsets, chargers and other accessories that shoppers may need immediately rather than waiting a day or two for shipment of a web order.

Ron Garriques, a former Dell and Motorola executive who will lead the new Radio Shack, said the chain would also focus on cities with populations of 5,000 to 100,000, where demand still exists for a neighborhood electronics store. In Manhattan, for example, the number of stores will fall from thirty to just three.

In addition, up to 60% of the floor space in surviving locations will be taken over by Sprint, which will pay leasing costs plus a commission to the store. It will increase Sprint’s store count by almost 50%.

Standard General is looking for more partners to set up displays or shops-inside-shops at Radio Shack. Those partners could sell anything: consumer electronics, home security systems, solar panels, wireless chargers.

One thing that remains unsettled is the operation’s name. Salus Capital Partners, the largest creditor, owns the rights to the name, but Standard General will try to buy it. If they are unsuccessful, look for new signage in about six months.


NOTE: We’re making this article from the May, 1991 Interface available on line because President Robert Bernardo came into possession of some of our old Disks of the Month, and demonstrated the April, 1991 issue at the April 2016 meeting, 25 years after the disk was first produced.


Disk of the Month

By Lloyd F. Warren

You didn't get the April D.O.M. did you? Well, the “Old-Man-of-the-Mountains” was snowed in and couldn't make the meeting.

In fact, I was snowed in for a month and a day! And to think I left New England in 1955 partly to get away from snow! It was a great winter for me till along came March and three feet of snow. I happen to live a mile into the woods off the main road and they don't plow in there. It's a good thing I had plenty of food and fuel.

One of my sons who lives nearby hiked in every few days to bring me fresh food and my mail so I did get to see someone besides my dog and cats. Enough of that.

I shall be demonstrating and selling the April and May D.O.M's at the May Swap Meet and the regular Thursday night meeting. I'm even going to offer a little bargain: Each disk will be $3.00 - BUT - when purchased together, both the April and the May D.O.M. can be yours for only $5.

(PS – Lloyd later reported over $100 in D.O.M. sales at the Swap Meet.)


A Paperless Society?

by Dick Estel

We are now nearly three decades into the home computer era. Yet the paperless, cashless, electronic society this "revolution" promised seems nearly as far away as ever.

For example: I have a dozen or so bills that I pay monthly, semi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually. About half of these are done by some form of automatic funds transfer. One of these was the phone bill, which used a pay-by-phone system. This required a phone call each month that took as long as writing and mailing a check, but it did eliminate the licking and sticking and the 33 cent postage cost. Now this bill is deducted directly from my bank account.

I pay my car insurance bill via the Internet. When I started a few months ago, I had to enter all the numbers on my check, with characters such as # @ and & replacing the computer symbols that are part of the routing number. I had to look at a key to determine which character to enter. When I made my first payment after the latest renewal, this requirement had been eliminated. So there is progress.

I have a first and second mortgage on my home, both negotiated with my employee credit union. The first one was transferred to a third party, and is paid by payroll deduction. The credit union will not accept payroll deduction for the other one. Instead I must write a check each month and mail it to the credit union where my payroll check is deposited. Go figure.

(From The Interface, newsletter of Fresno Commodore User Group)


Let’s Make “Obsolete” Obsolete

By Dick Estel

Maybe it’s time to strike the word “obsolete” from the human vocabulary.

My hardbound paper 1985 edition Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary defines “obsolete” as follows: “1. Gone out of fashion; out-of-date. 2. No longer used or practiced.”

Our Commodores have been “obsolete” for at least 20 years now, but they still work, people still use them, new hardware and software come on the scene on a regular basis. We even still sell a C64 now and then, although it’s for one percent of the original retail price.

I suppose definition #1 could be said to apply, but definitely not #2.

The C64 made the VIC20 obsolete – but don’t tell that to Vincent, the club’s Grand Poohbah of the VIC20. Even the earliest computers made still have their devotees.

Or consider the evolution of recorded music, from the Edison cylinder to streaming services. Cylinders, 78’s, vinyl LPs and 45s, cassettes, and 8-tracks are all “obsolete.” CDs and even MP3s aren’t far behind.

And yet, every format is still usable, with the vinyl LP probably the most common out-of-date format still in use. But a cylinder, properly cared for and played on a still-functioning machine, will sound as good as it did originally, which is not to claim that it sounds great. I have 30 year old cassettes, well cared for, that still play as good as the day I made them, and of course, CD’s should last at least as long as their owners do.

“Obsolete” cars, though lacking modern safety and convenience features, can be driven. They are expensive to maintain, and no one expects a 1928 Model A to take him down the freeway at 80 MPH, but they will perform they way they did originally. And if they are in great condition, they have resale value far beyond their original cost.

Even my hardbound dictionary is considered obsolete by some – but it worked just fine to launch this article. Now the only challenge is for us, as we age, to make sure WE do not become “obsolete”!


Calendar Madness

By Dick Estel  

I’m a calendar nut. I’m not sure why, but I’ve been interested in calendars for a long time. In my teenage years I made a few of my own calendars, typing them out on a Royal portable.

When I started using computers, I made calendars in various ways, mostly with dedicated calendar programs. However, when I wanted more control over the design of the calendar, I made some using Microsoft Publisher. These were mostly calendars that had the entire year on a single page, an option not usually found in dedicated programs.

After retirement, I had no real use for the single page calendars, and eventually retired from this activity.

During the course of my obsessive calendar adventures, I realized that every calendar repeats a few years later. I started saving my commercial calendars and reusing them. This was mostly to see how people would react to noticing that I had a 2009 calendar on the wall in 2015. Be warned: phases of the moon and Easter do not reliably repeat.

My mother was one of those people who save EVERYTHING, and I found some old calendars when cleaning out her house, so recently I was able to hang a 1963 calendar on my wall.

When my first grandson was born in 1984, I decided to save the calendar from that year and give it to him when it was usable again. It was at this time that I realized that leap year calendars don’t repeat for 28 years. So I presented the calendar to him just before the start of 2012.

Then he had the nerve to produce a son that year. That boy’s calendar is saved in an envelope, but since I will be 101 when he reaches age 28, it will probably be up to my daughter, his grandmother, to give it to him.

Eventually I observed that non leap year calendars mostly repeat after either six or eleven years. I decided there must be some pattern to this, for example 6-6-11 or maybe 11-6-6-11-6. I also decided I was too lazy to figure this out, but the idea would not leave my head. (I told you I’m a calendar nut.)

I did do some research, using the web site, and also did some work with a spread sheet. It turns out that the repeat pattern for non leap year calendars is 11-11-6 , more or less. The exceptions come about when the period between matching calendars contains a year ending in 00. If it’s time for an 11 year delay, it will become 12 years. But not always. It appears that if it’s time for a 6 year delay, there is no change.

So it gets complicated, and as I mentioned, I am a nut, but a lazy nut, and I would probably need to lay out a spread sheet with 1,000 years to discern all the patterns. I’ll leave that to someone else. It’s certainly something you could do with a computer, and this sentence is intended to justify publishing this article in a computer club newsletter.


Where to Meet, Where to Eat

by Dick Estel

In the 29 years that I’ve been a member of the Fresno Commodore User Group, we’ve had a half dozen different meeting places. We’ve also gone through a few changes in how we deal with lunch.

When I joined the club, we met in a computer lab/classroom at the Fresno Adult School which contained around 20 Commodore 64s. At the time I thought this was normal, but I soon learned that we were very fortunate to have this facility and the equipment it contained. Our ability to use this room was thanks to Barbara Monis, club president at the time and an educator in the local school system. She was able to convince the principal of the adult school to open the doors one Saturday a month, greatly enhancing our meetings.

At that time we also had a weeknight meeting once a month. Over the years it varied between Tuesday and Thursday nights. Originally it was in the meeting room of an insurance office building where one of our former members was a manager.

Of course, there was no food service at these locations, and we did not have a formal lunch practice. A few members who were friends away from the club usually went to a nearby Wendy’s for lunch after the meeting. Eventually an open invitation was extended to any club member to join the lunch group, although only a small minority did so.

After I had been with the club for about three years, circumstances too complicated to go into here forced us to find a new meeting place. In February of 1991 the Saturday meeting moved to Best by Far, a business owned by a local agency that provided services to mentally disabled adults. During the week it served as a training center, and also housed a shop that sold baked goods and other items as a fund raiser. Our evening meeting remained at the office building.

Then in April of 1992 we lost our Thursday meeting place when the company moved to Sacramento . We were able to schedule our evening meetings at Best by Far, but the location was a little out of the way, and not a place people were comfortable with in the evening. After a continued drop in attendance, the evening meetings ended permanently as of January 1993.

Later that year the agency whose building we were using changed the rental policy to an hourly rate, which in essence would have meant a 270% increase in our cost. The club treasury could not begin to support that amount, and again we were on the hunt for a meeting place.

Eventually we learned that there was a public meeting room upstairs at Manchester Center , Fresno ’s first big shopping mall, and still a fairly busy one. It was necessary to reserve this room on a month by month basis, so we called the first weekday of every month, and were able to use the room virtually every month, starting in September 1993.

This gave us a stable location for a long time, and we met there until November 1998. I don’t recall the details, but I think there was a change in ownership of the mall, and the meeting room was no longer offered to the public. Looking through old newsletters it appears that we held one meeting in a vacant store near the meeting room, then found another long-term location.

The main Fresno County Library downtown had a room that was available to the public, although I think we also had to reserve it month by month. The room itself was reasonably satisfactory, but also had some issues. It was not always available on the day we wanted, and when we were able to schedule on a recurring basis, we found that the people handling this task were somewhat disorganized. We would sometimes arrive for our meeting to find someone else using the room.

Our meeting time was before the regular opening time of the library, and the location was on the second floor. We had to find someone to let us in through the loading dock, put equipment onto a cart, and bring it in and upstairs via elevator. Although we stayed there for two and a half years, when we left, we were happy to say goodbye to the place.

During our time there we usually drove up Blackstone Avenue , the main north- south street from downtown, and stopped for lunch at one of many eating places along the way.

The newsletter of April 2001 gives notice that the April meeting has been cancelled due to a scheduling conflict, and it appears that marked our departure from the library. At this time we began a period of wandering, but all of it was back at Manchester Mall. Starting in June, 2001, we met in the Senior Citizens Center there, and were still there as of April 2003. From this month until November 2005, there are no newsletters, because no one had the time or inclination to put one together, but we continued to meet. We lost the use of the Senior Center , but were able to meet in a room controlled by a city councilman, who made it available to the public.

During this time we continued to patronize restaurants along Blackstone or at the shopping mall. Perhaps foreshadowing our current situation, one of our favorites was a very good Mexican place, Café Leon , still operating at Blackstone and Ashlan.

The date and reason for leaving Manchester are lost in that dark period of no newsletters, but by November 2005 President Robert Bernardo had lined up the services of a nearby pizza parlor. This was the Pizza Pit, where owner Stan allowed us to bring in our equipment and take over several tables. Here we enjoyed excellent sandwiches and pizza pie, and lunch became an integral part of our meeting.

On the other hand, there were drawbacks (no surprise, right?) The place was obviously open to the public, and some of the public consisted of young kids who liked to run up and down the aisles, play the loud video games, and even put money in the juke box. Their parents were only slightly less disruptive, since the place had several large TV sets, so sports fans would congregate there and cheer for their favorite team.

There was also the matter of cooling. The place had a swamp cooler, or maybe just an old, almost dead air conditioner. Since summers in Fresno often go above 100 degrees, we had some very uncomfortable meetings.

Still, we made do, and might be there still if Stan had not sold out to a new owner. These people were very cooperative and glad to have us, but they also did some remodeling that marked the beginning of the end. We arrived one day to find that half-wall paneling had been installed, blocking the electrical outlets next to the tables we used. Other tables would have put us too much into the middle of the restaurant’s regular operations, so we ended up stringing an extension cord across the room, right through the main walkway.

It was clear that this could be a big liability issue for the club and the restaurant, and we knew it was again time to move. Our meeting notes show that Stan sold out in April, 2012, and in July I checked out several places, including a different pizza parlor. They could accommodate us, but the layout was not really workable. Then I happened to stop by Bobby Salazar’s Cantina, a Mexican restaurant that I had been going to for 15 years or more.

I talked to the manager, and they had a small banquet room which could be partly blocked off by a curtain. There were plenty of outlets, more than enough tables, and best of all, it was almost never in use on our meeting day, so they were willing to let us use it, despite the small size of our group by this time.

Oh yes, it had air conditioning! When the rest of the membership went by to take a look, we all agreed we had found Nirvana, and our first meeting there was in August 2012. We are now almost five years into our occupancy of the best meeting place we’ve had since the Adult School . It’s no accident, but certainly worth mentioning, that the food at the location is excellent. We usually occupy the room from 11 to nearly 5 p.m. and have never felt any pressure to eat up and get out. Hopefully this will be our Commodore home for a long time to come.

PS: I want to end this with a couple of tributes. Looking through back issues of the newsletter to research this article, I saw that Robert became President when we were still in the upstairs meeting room at Manchester , in January of 1997. At 20 years he’s long since surpassed Franklin Roosevelt’s record. No wonder one of our former newsletter editors called him “President for Life.” I was also quite surprised to see the date on the first newsletter produced by current editor Lenard Roach – November-December 2005. Where does the time go??!! Without Lenard we would not have a newsletter; without Robert we would not have a club. Lenard almost surely holds the record as the longest-serving editor in club history.


Rod Gasson Passes

by Robert Bernardo

November 26, 2018 in Australia, Rod Gasson, husband of Gaelyne Gasson, passed away. The Gassons were the owners of and strong supporters of the Commodore community. Gaelyne was the owner of the Homestead Commodore mailing list and the Commodore mailing list when the University of Buffalo could no longer host it. A few years later Gaelyne turned over ownership of both mailing lists to me.

Before moving to Australia, she edited a Commodore club newsletter in Michigan.

Rod made several posts on the old Homestead@vcsweb list. It was my pleasure to meet both Rod and Gaelyne when I went to Adelaide, South Australia in 2016. He was a gentleman and was kind to show me around the city. All three of us attended the Adelaide Amiga and Retro-Computing Event, too.

I was hoping to see both of them when I was to return to Australia in 2019.

Rest in peace, Rod,

This page is sponsored by the Fresno Commodore User Group
Articles Page 1               Articles Page 2          Articles Page 3          Articles Page 5

Memory Lane Articles          Member Biography Articles



Mini Commodore Logo

Active Commodore Clubs

Mini Commodore Logo

CommVEx (Commodore Las Vegas Expo) 2009

Mini Commodore Logo

Amigathering IX

Mini Commodore Logo

CommVEx (Commodore Las Vegas Expo) 2010

Mini Commodore Logo


Mini Commodore Logo

CommVEx (Commodore Las Vegas Expo) 2011

Mini Commodore Logo

AmiWest (Amiga) 2006

Mini Commodore Logo

CommVEx (Commodore Las Vegas Expo) 2012

Mini Commodore Logo

AmiWest (Amiga) 2007

Mini Commodore Logo

CommVEx (Commodore Las Vegas Expo) 2013

Mini Commodore Logo

AmiWest (Amiga) 2008

Mini Commodore Logo

CommVEx (Commodore Las Vegas Expo) 2015

Mini Commodore Logo

AmiWest (Amiga) 2009

Mini Commodore Logo

CommVEx (Commodore Las Vegas Expo) 2016

Mini Commodore Logo

AmiWest (Amiga) 2010

Mini Commodore Logo

CommVEx (Commodore Las Vegas Expo) 2017

Mini Commodore Logo

AmiWest (Amiga) 2011

Mini Commodore Logo

CommVEx (Commodore Las Vegas Expo) 2018

Mini Commodore Logo

AmiWest (Amiga) 2012

Mini Commodore Logo

CommVEx (Commodore Las Vegas Expo) 2019

Mini Commodore Logo

AmiWest (Amiga) 2013

Mini Commodore Logo

Commodore in the Lab

Mini Commodore Logo

AmiWest (Amiga) 2018

Mini Commodore Logo

Consumer Electronics Show 2006

Mini Commodore Logo

Articles Index (text files)

Mini Commodore Logo

Emergency Chicagoland Convention

Mini Commodore Logo

Articles Page 1

Mini Commodore Logo

Fresno Commodore User Group Home Page

Mini Commodore Logo

Articles Page 2

Mini Commodore Logo

Fresno Commodore Club Meeting Notes Page 1

Mini Commodore Logo

Articles Page 3

Mini Commodore Logo

Fresno Commodore Club Meeting Notes Page 2

Mini Commodore Logo

Articles Page 4

Mini Commodore Logo

Fresno Commodore Club Meeting Notes Page 3

Mini Commodore Logo

Articles Page 5

Mini Commodore Logo

Fresno Commodore User Group Reunion Lunch

Mini Commodore Logo

Articles - Memory Lane

Mini Commodore Logo

Game On

Mini Commodore Logo

Articles - Member Biographies

Mini Commodore Logo

Gaelyne Gasson Commodore

Mini Commodore Logo

Atari Party 2013

Mini Commodore Logo

Hamtext Cartridge Demo

Mini Commodore Logo

Bernardo in England

Mini Commodore Logo

LUCKI Expo 2005

Mini Commodore Logo

Block Party 2008

Mini Commodore Logo

Member Biographies

Mini Commodore Logo

Block Party 2009

Mini Commodore Logo

Memory Lane Articles

Mini Commodore Logo

Block Party 2010

Mini Commodore Logo

MossyCon 4

Mini Commodore Logo

Chicago Expo 2000

Mini Commodore Logo

MossyCon 5

Mini Commodore Logo

Chicago Expo 2001

Mini Commodore Logo

Netherlands Commodore Show

Mini Commodore Logo

Chicago Expo 2006

Mini Commodore Logo

Notacon 2011

Mini Commodore Logo

Cincinnati Expo 2007

Mini Commodore Logo

Notacon 2014

Mini Commodore Logo

CLASS (Commodore Los Angeles Super Show) 2019

Mini Commodore Logo

SC3 Party

Mini Commodore Logo

Classic Gaming Expo 2003

Mini Commodore Logo

SC3 Arcade Party 2009

Mini Commodore Logo

Classic Gaming Expo 2004

Mini Commodore Logo

SC3 Arcade Party 2012

Mini Commodore Logo

Classic Gaming Expo 2005

Mini Commodore Logo

Vintage Computer Festival 2000

Mini Commodore Logo

Commodore Gaming E3 Party

Mini Commodore Logo

Vintage Computer Festival 2002

Mini Commodore Logo

Commodore in Germany

Mini Commodore Logo

Vintage Computer Festival 2005

Mini Commodore Logo

Commodore Graphics Page 1
P2    P3    P4    

Mini Commodore Logo

Vintage Computer Festival 2006

Mini Commodore Logo

Commodore Graphics Page 5
P6     P7    P8    

Mini Commodore Logo

Vintage Computer Festival 2007

Mini Commodore Logo

Commodore Graphics 9    P10   P11

Mini Commodore Logo

Vintage Computer Festival East (2007)

Mini Commodore Logo

Commodore Information Center

Mini Commodore Logo

Vintage Computer Festival East (2009)

Mini Commodore Logo

Commodore 25th Anniversary

Mini Commodore Logo

Vintage Computer Festival East (2012)

Mini Commodore Logo

CommVEx (Commodore Las Vegas Expo) 2006

Mini Commodore Logo

Vintage Computer Festival East (2014)

Mini Commodore Logo

CommVEx (Commodore Las Vegas Expo) 2007

Mini Commodore Logo

Estel Home Page

Mini Commodore Logo

CommVEx (Commodore Las Vegas Expo) 2008

Mini Commodore Logo


Mini Commodore Logo

Recommended Links



Updated November 11, 2021