2000 Commodore 8-bit Users Survey Results
This reporting is preliminary. We are currently awaiting results
from non-Net-enabled Commodore users, which I will compare with this current
group both separately and together. This will probably take several months,
so I am posting these results now. Hernan Vergara and I are organising
this. If you want to help get responses from non-Net-ready folks in your
local users group, please mail
Well, folks, it's finally here: the Y2K Commodore 8-bit Users Survey.
It's been 23 years since Commodore's original PET first graced the halls
of technology, and there's still plenty of Commodore spirit out there!
Almost three hundred people participated this year and submitted information,
and we're expecting at least that many more from the by-mail campaign.
for your participation and support!
This survey represents a significant achievement, hopefully in
accuracy :-), over the 1997 survey, which
you can still refer to and bask in its amateurish glory.
First, let's get to the fine print, before we start on the survey results:
I thought it was kind of obvious that to be a current user, you had
to at least own a Commodore 8-bit. Unfortunately, this was not so obvious
as it might seem and three surveys were from people who did not currently
own one. I appreciate your taking the time to fill out the survey (you
know who you are) but I cannot use your information for the purposes of
this analysis. Another survey was dropped for non-compliance (some information
was conflicting and I could not get a response from the respondent because
the E-mail address they had supplied was not valid). Some values were also
manually tweaked based on information you specified in your comments
that you added into the plain-text fields in the survey.
Those of you who don't know an arithmetic mean from a confidence interval
can skip this section safely. :-)
Ranges, when reported, are 95% confidence intervals except where noted.
n=275. Survey results were calculated with the proprietary ksurvey
system and the raw stat digest, including mean, CI, mode and set percentage,
is available upon request (standard error and standard deviation can also
be derived from the raw digest).
And now, without further ado, the survey.
The Big Picture
Here's what the survey says, in a nutshell.
The average Commodore 8-bit user of today is male, aged 28-31,
lives in either North America or Europe, and got his first
Commodore 13 to 14 years ago. He owns four to seven Commodore
8-bit computers of varying kinds, and anywhere up to six other computers
besides. He owns between five and eight disk drives, and probably
has a couple of Datasettes too, and about four to six joysticks.
He primarily uses BASIC as his OS, and uses a PC or other kind of "more
modern" computer to access the Internet. He probably also uses an emulator
of some sort. His Commodore is not his primary computer, but when he's
using it it's most likely for games or, less often, programming and actual
Commodore users are also a very loquacious
Let's get down to brass tacks.
The numbers were overwhelmingly from men: 96.7% of respondents were
male, and of the 98.1% who answered, probably around 30 years of age. The
most common age was 25. Yes, there are some younger women who are still
using Commodores. No, I won't give out their phone numbers.
Worldwide, the biggest concentration of Commodore users appears to be
North America (49.4%) but Europe is very close (42.5%). In distant third
place is Australasia (this includes New Zealand and Australia) at 5.8%,
South America at 1.8%, and a very lonely one respondent from Africa. No
one responded from Asia, although I do know of someone in Japan personally.
Of the 99.6% responding, most of you got your first Commodore between
13 and 14 years ago. This would, of course, be right smack dab around the
height of the 64's popularity. The most common figure was 15 years ago
(17.8%). There is definitely new blood, however: someone got their first
one just last year. Someone else said twenty-seven years ago, which definitely
seems suspect since the PET came out in 1977 (i.e. 23 years ago), but maybe
they were talking about the calculators or got the date wrong on a KIM-1.
100% of those surveyed own a Commodore 8-bit (duh). You probably own
between four and seven of them. Someone out there has eighty-nine
(and they all work?!), but interestingly the most common number is just
one (16.7%). Of those owning a Commodore 8-bit, the percentage of you possessing
each type of computer is as follows:
44% of you own another Commodore computer besides (and most of them have
around one to three of them). Of that 44% of you who own one:
The brown breadbox 64, the classic of all classics, comes in at 71.6%.
The flat 128, including the "128CR"; 53.4%.
The 128Ds, including the DCR; 37.4%.
SX-64, a surprising 16%. This machine is turning out to be less and less
uncommon all the time.
8000 series PETs, 6.5%. The leader of the still-hanging-in-there PET brigade.
4000 series PETs, 4.3%.
2000 series PETs, 2.5%.
3000 series PETs, 2.1%.
Educator 64s, including PET 64s and 4064s; 1.8%.
The 64 Game System, only 1%. KIM-1 (even including AIM-65s, which aren't
Commodores at all), a sorrowful 1%, also.
Several people mentioned B series computers (B128s, 500s, 600s, 700s, B256s,
P500s). I can't believe I forgot to include these in the survey. Sorry
about that. I probably should have also asked about Ultimaxes, just for
fun. No one seemed to own any of the other 264 series computers, which
doesn't sound right (I know someone who does have a 364).
Any Amiga, 42.1%. (And in that 42.1%, 21.5% own 1000s, 81% own 500s or
2000s, 6.8% own CDTVs, 3.4% own 3000s, 43.9% own 600s or 1200s, 9.4% own
CD32s, and another 9.4% 4000s.)
Commodore PC (any), 15.7%. I wonder how many of the currently manufactured
Commodore PCs were included.
As for the CBM900, I put that in as a joke. Startlingly, someone claimed
to own one, but he is not on my list of people whose houses I intend to
break into and steal the unit ou^Uon my list of people who I know for sure
in fact have the box in their possession. He has not responded to my verification
E-mail, so if you want bragging rights, you know who you are!
Peripherals are listed in descending order of commonality (i.e., most
commonly owned ones, first).
95.6% of you own a disk drive. (Egad, I feel sorry for the other 4.4%.)
Most of you have around five to eight of them, but someone out there claims
to have sixty-three. Of that 95.6%, the percentage of them possessing
each type of disk drive is as follows:
94.5% of you own joysticks, usually five or six (and some person with lots
of closet space has sixty-one). Interestingly, 23.8% of you just own one,
so I guess they don't have many friends to play two-player games with,
do they? I didn't ask about particular brands.
Brown 1541, 69.2%.
1571, 61.9%. This count includes both external drives and 1571s in 128Ds
and DCRs. This was counted for you in the form, which is why I didn't want
people adding in those drives in the form manually.
1541-II, 53.9%. Wow. I didn't know they were that common.
1581, 34.6%. Another surprising number, considering that they're really
rather difficult to find now (probably people are hoarding them :-).
CMD FD-2000, 14.8%. The most popular third-party disk drive.
FSD/Oceanic Excelerator+, 8.3%.
CMD FD-4000, 4.1%.
Enhancer 2000, 3.8%.
MSD single drive, 3.4%.
MSD dual drive, 3.4%. (This sounds suspicious, doesn't it?)
Indus GT, 2.6%. So much for my favourite non-Commodore disk drive. *sigh*
1551, 2.2%. Not surprising; these are very difficult to find in the wild.
(Some other third party drives combined, 6.4%.)
79.2% of you own a Datasette or some clone, usually just two (but the
high score is twenty-one). Of that 79.2%, the percentage of them possessing
each kind of Datasette/clone is:
54.9% of you own a Commodore monitor (I didn't ask about others). Most
people have two or three (high 19). Within that 54.9%:
1530 datasette, 63.7%.
1531 (Plus/4), 15.1%. This alleges that there's quite a few 264-series
computers connected to Datasettes.
(Third-party clones, 26.1%.)
54.1% of you own a Commodore-compatible printer (we'll talk interfaces
shortly), usually two or three (high 23). Within that 54.1%:
1084, 56.9%. Hands down winner. Included 1084P and S models.
1802, 21.8%. The big three standbys (1702, 1802 and 1902) are still quite
popular. 1802s include any of the rebadged CM-141s that got gussied up
(in which case I feel sorry for those people).
CM-141 or 1703, 5.2%. You mean there's eight of you out there dumb enough
to own one of these doorstops? :-P
(For those of you writing printer drivers, it looks like the 1525 compatibles
are still the ones to support. :-)
Star NX-1000C, 18.1%.
MPS-1000, 14%. Some of you owned the MPS-1250, but I didn't ask this question.
Okimate 10, 12%.
Okimate 20, 11.4%. Okimates combined are a pretty strong group, and they
have nice colour output if low resolution.
Other Commodore-compatible Okidatas, 10.7%.
Star NX-10C, 7.3%.
(Other third-party Commodore-compatible printers, 33.5%.)
53.8% of you own a modem. Someone has 42, but most of you own around
three. Within that 53.8%:
51.6% of you own a mouse, and usually just one (high of 19). Within this
Modems requiring an interface (swallow this up under RS-232 modem), 57.4%.
I should have also asked about accelerators like Datapumps, SwiftLinks
1660/1670 modems, 52%.
(Other Commodore-compatible modem (HesModem, Mighty Mo, Aprotek, etc.),
As far as printer interfaces go, 41% of you own one (and I assume with
a printer to match), usually one to three (high 22). Within that 41%:
M3 mouse, 15.4%.
Datex mouse, 0.7%.
(Other third-party mouse, 16.9%. I assume this also includes CMD Smartmice,
which for the second time running I have neglected to include.)
40.3% of you own an REU or some kind of RAM expansion, usually two (high
11). Of that 40.3%:
Xetec Super Graphics or SGJr., 53.9%.
Cardco +G, 32.7%.
Other Cardco interface, 10.6%. Our high scorer really likes these, since
(s)he appears to own twenty-one of them. I wonder why (s)he bought a different
interface for #22? :-)
(Other printer interface, 40.7%.)
18.1% of you own hard drives. Naturally, virtually everyone has just one.
Within that 18.1%:
CMD RAMLink, 36.9%.
CMD and Software Support REU clones, 26.1%. This includes CMD 1750XLs and
the Software Support boxes.
Quick Brown Box, 9.9%.
(Other third-party device, 8.1%.)
Some less common peripherals, in no particular order:
CMD hard drives, the name we all know and associate with hard drives, leads
with a whopping 92%.
Lt. Kernal drives (a solemn RIP for Ron Fick, the man who continued to
carry the LtK torch), 10%.
(Other hard drives, 8%. I assume this is mostly the IDE interface.)
People also reported trackballs, scanners and light guns.
25.4% of you own a cartridge port expander. I didn't ask brands. Most people
have just one.
14.5% of you own a light pen. Inkwell Systems' line of pens (the 170C and
184C) were most popular, at 37.5% of owners, followed by the Koala light
pen (15%). Edumates came in at 5%. I must be missing an important brand,
since 57.5% of owners owned a third-party light pen I didn't ask about
(which?). Most people have just one.
21% of you own a touch tablet. The famous KoalaPad is the hands down winner
at 91.3% of owners; 20.6% of owners have the Suncom Animation Station Pad.
(Other third party, 5.1%.) Most of you own just one.
I gave this its own section since many people are probably curious
to see how the SuperCPU has impacted the Commodore community, but there
are other important accelerators to be aware of.
Only 15.6% of you have CPU accelerators of any kind, including SCPUs,
Flash8s, and Turbo Masters. However, the bulk of these are SCPUs, at a
startling 90.6% (Flash8, 11.6%; TurboMaster, 6.9%; other, 4.6%). Given
the rapid rise of the 16-bit capable Commodore community in the last few
years, SCPU-only commercial software may become viable after all. Interestingly,
most people have only one accelerator, except for someone with six Flash8's.
I forgot the TurboProcess here, which is apparently the Flash8 predecessor.
Enhancements, Fastloaders and OSes
76.3% of you own a fastload device or upgrade of some sort. Of that
I probably should have gotten composite counts instead for the Final Cartridge,
Super Snapshot and Action Replay versions, since the older versions are
still surprisingly popular.
CMD JiffyDOS, 40.9%. Those of you with SuperCPUs automatically had this
counted, but someone else said it's in RAMLinks, too. So this number might
actually be higher.
Epyx FastLoad, 38.5%. My personal favourite. :-)
Final Cartridge III, 31.9%.
Action Replay v6, 24.2%.
Action Replay v5 or lower, 18%.
Super Snapshot v5, 14.7%.
Final Cartridge I or II, 9.5%.
Cinemaware Warpspeed, 9%.
Super Snapshot v4 or lower, 8%.
Access Mach5 (128), 7.8%.
Timeworks Partner 128, 7.6%.
Access Mach5 (64), 7.1%.
Dolphin DOS, 1.9%.
Operating systems Commodores run (besides BASIC, of course):
Despite GEOS' wide availability, people overwhelmingly prefer good ol'
BASIC as their primary OS (76%). Only 15.6% prefer GEOS (8% Wheels, 7.6%
other GEOS). CP/M and alternative OSes were each preferred by 2.9%.
GEOS still has a commanding share of the Commodore OS arena at 53%. Within
that 53%, 24.6% run Wheels and 10.2% run CMD gateWay. I should also have
asked about MegaPatch 3.
22.5% can run CP/M. Of that, 32.2% can run CP/M 2.2 (64), and 85.4% can
run CP/M Plus 3.0 on the 128.
Non-official Commodore OSes (I count GEOS as official, since Commodore
bundled it with the 64C) are becoming quite popular, at 14%. Of the 14%
that run these alternative OSes, Daniel Dallman's LUnix has a commanding
lead at 64.1%. The venerable old CS-DOS is next at 41%, followed
by OS/A65 (7.6%), and Asterix and CLiPS (both 5.1%). I made a terrible
omission by forgetting Craig Bruce's ACE, which was mentioned by quite
a few respondents also.
92% of you own one of the other computers I asked about. Most of you
own three to six of them. Of that 92%:
It would have been useful to find out how many people own other 6502-based
systems, just to see if there's any correlation. In that case, I should
also have asked about the BBC systems. And probably the wonderful Archimedes,
yet another computer I must adore from afar, even though it's not a 6502
92.4% of you own "PCs" (any Intel-architecture system). I probably should
ask what OS they run, also. The average respondent owned two. Someone has
Any eight-bit Atari, 12.6%.
Any Sinclair, 12.2%. This probably should not have included Timex Sinclairs,
since they're not quite the same.
Any Atari ST, 10.6%.
Any TI-99 system, including Geneves (Myarc 9640 systems), 10.2%.
Any Apple II, including IIgs, 9.4%.
Tandy Colour Computers, 7.5%.
Other Tandy TRS-80s, 6.7%.
Any natively CP/M based system (no 128s!), like Kaypros, Cromemcos, etc.,
Any MSX, MSX2 or MSX+ system, 3.1%.
Tomy Tutors, 0.7%. Oh my gosh, there's someone else besides me who
has one of these things!
Commodore users access the Internet in all sorts of ways. Most of them
gravitate around PPP or, occasionally, SLIP (66.1%), but quite a few still
use shell (20.3%). Unfortunately, only 19.6% of you can access the Net
from an actual Commodore. Of that 19.6%:
Of the 86.1% of you that can also do it from a non-Commodore access point,
here's the breakdown:
Shell accounts are still the most popular method, at 81.4%.
SLIP/PPP, 27.7%. I should figure out how much of this is LUnix.
I should have also asked about WebTV and other "network computer"-like
devices. Getting a composite figure for "hardline" access to the Net, like
ISDN, T1, DSL, cable modem, etc., might also have been useful.
Ethernet connection to LAN (dorm rooms, workplace, etc.), 28.2%.
Shell, 11.8%. I made it clear that logging in through PPP/SLIP and telnetting
does not constitute shell dialup.
Cable modem, 7.1%.
26.9% of you don't emulate. You use the real thing. Congratulations!
Of the 66.1% of you left, emulation can be broken down into platforms
preferred and emulators used. Under platforms:
Win32, 76.3%. (Grumble.)
(Other, 14.8%. Might have been some RiscOS in here.)
Emulators I forgot include VC20, Power20, PCVIC, Pfau Zeh, ComeBack 64
(which is becoming increasingly widespread), and Win64. C64Alive, ALE64
and Sally64 are so disused that I intentionally did not include
This is sort of a catch-all category, where I find out what you still
do with your 64, community support, etc.
29.4% of you subscribe to a current Commodore publication. Of that 29.4%,
What do you use your Commodore 8-bit for? You said:
GO64!, which includes the former Commodore World, 81.4%.
Loadstar Letter, 28.3%.
Commodore Gazette, 4.9%.
Is your Commodore 8-bit your primary system? 17.4% of you say yes. There
were a lot of apologetic comments along the lines of, "well, I use my PC
more, but the 64 is still my favourite!"
Programming and development (55.2%). This is probably where demo programmers
should have checked off, but I should have been more specific.
Word processing, productivity (32.3%).
Internet access (16.3%). However, recall that 19.6% of you can use
your Commodore to access the Net, so 3.3% of you must simply choose not
to do so.
Would you buy new Commodore 8-bit software? 70.1% of you, surprisingly,
said yes. However, the real shock is that even more of you (77.4%) would
buy new Commodore 8-bit hardware. The Commodore software/hardware market
is not dead yet! Hope you programmers and designers are listening!
That's the survey. Now for the ruminations.
Conclusions and Trends Analysis
The last survey conducted, in 1997, had only sixty-five respondents
and was not conducted in any manner even remotely resembling statistical
relevance. (Hah, as if this one were.) The range of questions and
investigations was also much smaller in scope. Nevertheless, we can still
draw some conclusions about how the Commodore user landscape has changed
and stayed the same.
For the next survey, I plan to:
Demographics are near identical, even down to the median age: mostly young
While there have been some increases in the percentage of you owning some
of the less common Commodores and peripherals, like the Plus/4s, the relative
ranking of computers, and Commodore peripherals (especially diskdrives),
is very similar.
Emulation has become a lot more popular, but the emulation playing field
has shifted. C64S, once the leader in 1997, has now lost the lead by a
considerable margin. Despite this, however, almost one-third of emulator
users still use it. However, this change is nothing compared with the phenomenal
growth of CCS64, which was still a novelty in 1997 but is now the most
popular. The real puzzle is that PC64 has actually gained a sizeable chunk
of emulation share, despite no upgrades or visible support. This can probably
be chalked up to its freeware status.
Much more of you own PCs today than you owned in 1997. While the original
survey reported only 56%, an absolute figure of 85% of you own PCs now.
Macs are also up (15.2% vs. 6%), and so are Amigas (42.1% vs. 21%). Figures
for most of the other computers I asked about are also up correspondingly,
usually a few percentage points, except for the forlorn Colour Computers
which are still about the same.
In spite of the highly publicised Wheels rollout (and MegaPatch3, too),
GEOS seems to be losing popularity points. In 1997, the ratio of people
who preferred BASIC to GEOS was about two to one, but now it's closer to
five to one. The fact that over half of Commodore owners are GEOS-capable,
however, is still good news for GEOS boosters.
Finally, your comments count. Please check out what
everyone wrote me and read comments from your fellow users.
Add all these reported peripherals and software.
Ask more about user's history, like user's groups, online services you
subscribed to, and so on.
Try to make questions more specific to allow more reliable answers and
involve less data massaging.
That's a wrap for the 2000 survey. Tune in, as the next survey should
be out in a few months. Keep the Commodore computers alive into the 21st
Cameron Kaiser #20915