Programming the Commodore 64 Rae West Level Computer Publications, 1985
If the Programmer’s Reference Guide is the bible of Commodore 64 programming then this book is definitely the Encyclopedia Commodoria alongside it. Author Rae West leaves absolutely no stone unturned in his exploration of the C64.
Starting with an quick overview of the C64 the book soon delves into a comprehensive and in-depth BASIC reference guide. What’s particularly helpful here are the examples that accompany each BASIC term showing different ways in which the language may be used.
Chapter 4 follows-on from this with some more practical examples of using BASIC as well as tips on debugging. There really are a lot of examples here and more than enough for anyone wanting to get to grips with Commodore BASIC.
Things get a bit more serious after this. First there’s a look at the C64 architecture (essential prep for the coming chapters) before some advanced BASIC routines in Chapter 6 (although a lot of these routines utilise assembly in one form or another).
Chapters 7 to 10 start to focus on machine language – again, there is a comprehensive reference guide to the 6510 vocabulary here and some very useful machine code routines.
Finally, the book starts to look at specific input/output routines with chapters on graphics, sound, tape/disk storage, control ports and using other peripherals such as printers, plotters and modems! Again, each chapter includes many example programs in a mixture of BASIC and assembly language.
The appendices are similarly comprehensive in their overview of C64 architecture, coding and notation.
As I said at the beginning, no stone is left unturned here – and some of the examples could teach even the most experience coders a thing or two. You want to do smooth scrolling? That’s in. How to access paddles or a light-pen? Yep! Create a fast-loader? Sure. Wedge BASIC with your own commands? A whole chapter on it!
It really is one of the most comprehensive C64 books available, and should definitely be in your top 3 (alongside the Programmer’s Reference Guide and Mapping the 64).
At c. 500 pages this is a hefty introduction book indeed. And while you would certainly need further books to expand your knowledge, this is one hell of a starter for anyone wanting to know a bit more about the Commodore 64.
Buyer’s Guide This very rarely pops up on eBay and is usually sold for around £30, although if you’re lucky you may see it for less. Used copies are currently (Jan 2019) available on Amazon for around £70.