apocalypse logo
C64 Stars!
contact me
best ever
about me





Compunet was a nationwide dial-up network service based in the UK. When it first started up way back in 1984 the service was aimed squarely at Commodore 64 users, and required a 'brick' modem which plugged into the C64's cartridge port. Users of the service could upload 'pages' or frames of information and could browse through pages uploaded by other individuals.

The ROM extension in the modem provided an editor which allowed these pages to be created and viewed on or offline. Users ID information was stored in ROM in the modem to give extra security so as to theoretically make it impossible for someone to use your account unless they had access to your modem. But in the real world this wasn't the case, and it was not too long before it was possible to use anyone's account with any modem by using a couple of 'pokes'.

As with most things in life Compunet wasn't free; apart from the cost of the telephone calls there were quarterly 'subscriptions' to put up with. At the time I left Compunet there was a standard quarterly charge of 15ukp. You had to pay extra if you wanted to upload programs to be stored for any length of time, or have a 'banner' for your site.

What really made Compunet take-off in a big way was the ability any user to upload programs for others to see. Demos, music, pictures and all manner of C64 programs spread like wildfire through the system. Many, many famous demos groups and individuals started out by uploading their programs onto the Compunet system, many of whom went on to create some of the best commercial games ever to grace the Commodore 64. A lot went on to higher platforms, such as the Amiga, PC and console systems. A few (including myself) are still coding on the '64 to this day.

One novel feature unique to Compunet was the ability to award votes to users programs to show uploaders your appreciation (or lack of it) of their hard work (or lack of it!). The votes were displayed next to the file in question, so users could decide (based on the number of votes) whether a program would be worth half an hours downloading time. "half an hour for a C64 program" I hear you say; well, in those dark ages, the Commodore modems were able to upload at the amazing rate of 75 Baud (I kid you not), but hey, no worries, you could download at 1200 baud so it wasn't all bad news!

Private e-mail, or Mail BoX (MBX) facilities were also available. Users also had access to the real time 'Partyline'. Here you could log-on and chat (via the keyboard) to any number of fellow 'Compunetters' logged on at the same time. You could create private rooms and lock out nosy individuals if you needed to talk privately (usually to bad mouth the people you had just locked out).

Control of the system was via a menu known as the 'duckshoot' (as it scrolled left and right in response to the left/right cursor key), you will see this menu on the bottom of the main Compunet page. If this all sounds a lot like another system you may know of then your right. Compunet was a kind of 'mini Internet' but it was available to users in the UK many years before. When you consider that the Internet has only really taken off in the last 2/3 years, you can imagine how people were wowed by the Compunet system, over twelve years before the Internet became a household word.

Sadly, mainly due to (allegedly) bad management, Compunet went out of business in the very early 90's. Rumours are rife that the system still survives intact in a house somewhere in the London suburbs (if anyone does have any info about this, then please email me immediately).