I wonder what an equivalent guide written 30 years in the future about today's software would say. "At this point I realised the file was encrypted with 128 bit - so I routed it through the quantum decryptor circuit to find the key"...
May be of interest for those that want more details.
And much like with the C64, the BIOS maintains a memory map.
(KERNAL was very simple compared to what we think of as operating systems today -- only 8K, no virtual memory, and no processes.)
WORDS .BYT ' BASIC BYTES FREE',13,0
FREMES .BYT 147,13,' **** COMMODORE 64 BASIC V2 ****'
.BYT 13,13,' 64K RAM SYSTEM ',0
This time it's the VIC-40. I've never even heard of it, but apparently, it was a 40 column version of the VIC-20 with 16k of RAM. The C64 killed it, even though it was announced as coming soon by Commodore. Given how small Commodore was, relatively speaking (the same handful of engineers seemed to build everything), it's surprising that there were so many dead end projects. At least the VIC-40 was canned before it went to market; that would have been a colossal waste of resources.
In hindsight, it seems like the curse of Commodore was just trying to do too many things with the limited resources they had and heading down too many dead end alleys. Often it took the form of trying to capitalize on the success of their low-end lines toward the end of their useful life, rather than putting all their resources into the next generation. e.g. the C64 turned into the C64GS after better gaming systems already existed and the Amiga was five years old, the Amiga 500 effectively got a re-release as the Amiga 600 at a time when the 500 was ridiculously under-powered. Likewise CDTV crammed an Amiga 500 into a VCR box and removed all of its computer-y bits, making it a shitty computer, a mediocre game machine, and a novel but ultimately pointless pre-cursor to DVRs (it could play shitty video from CDROM, but couldn't record or otherwise do much that any ordinary desktop computer could do better at the time).
OK, rant over. When I was a kid, I used to think that "kernal" was an accidental misspelling that stuck; that seems so unlikely to me, today. It seems like it's more of an intentional in-joke. It's interesting to think that the best-selling computer in history was made by a team small enough, and a company casual enough, to let something like that slip through to production.
I can still remember that after all these years.
The KERNAL was known as kernel inside of Commodore since the PET days, but in 1980 Robert Russell misspelled the word as kernal in his notebooks. When Commodore technical writers Neil Harris and Andy Finkel collected Russell's notes and used them as the basis for the VIC-20 programmer's manual, the misspelling followed them along and stuck.
According to early Commodore myth, and reported by writer/programmer Jim Butterfield among others, the "word" KERNAL is an acronym (or maybe more likely, a backronym) standing for Keyboard Entry Read, Network, And Link, which in fact makes good sense considering its role. Berkeley Softworks later used it when naming the core routines of its GUI OS for 8-bit home computers: the GEOS KERNAL.
I was hoping this was a joke on his bad spelling, but then I realized the article was in German. Oh well.
I remember Bob had already accepted a job with Sperry Univac when Commodore insisted that he fly out for an interview. He went on a lark for free travel. According to his stories at the time, he was a bit of a crank during the interview since he had no intention of taking the job. This was before the VIC-20, so Commodore's had those lame chicklette keyboards and other lameness. He kept saying "My Apple can do this, why can't you do this?" Somehow, instead of interpreting his criticism as attitude, they were convinced he was a visionary. Go figure. So they paid what he asked and he played key roles on VIC-20 and C64.
History could be very different if he had ended up at Univac. The C64 looks a lot like ideas that were first floated during BS sessions among our gang.
I do sort of remember idly wondering which people built this marvel, already back then. Since then I've read a bunch of books etc, but a personal connection is hard to beat! Thanks for the story!