Silent Q

Azog's little slice of the world. Whee.

Commodore SX-64

Posted By on May 29, 2011

I recently picked up a Commodore SX-64, also known as the “Executive Computer”:

This is often billed as the worlds first portable color computer. There are other earlier portable computers, notably the Osborne and the IBM 5100.

I’m not sure what the production run of these was, but this particular one was built in March 1984.

Open it up, and you have a standard CBM keyboard, a 1541 floppy, and a 5″ or so color display, and a storage slot.

On the rear as almost all the standard C64 connectors.

It appears to lack the cassette port. I’m not sure if the hardware is present and just not brought out to a connector, or completely removed from the system.

On top is a game slot.

When you want to use it, you have to connect the keyboard via a 25-pin to 25-pin cable to a connector on the bottom of the system, not pictured here. This makes it awkward to connect the keyboard, and you have to keep the footrest positioned so that it does not let the system rest on the cable.

The connector on the left side connects to the keyboard, while the connector on the right is shaped in an L format to allow it to connect to the bottom. You can also see a small crack on the keyboard side connector, but that does not seem to impede connections.

When you turn it on, you get a Commodore 64 screen, but rather than the teal-on-blue of the C64, this is more like the color on a VIC-20, white with a blue backround and blue letters.

I was expecting the internals to be a basic C64 stuffed inside the cabinet, with connectors brought out, but I was surprised to a completely re-designed system.

Points of mild interest: The right-side contains a daughterboard for the video and sound. You can see part of the 1541 mechanism under the game port. The main system board is on the left.

The keyboard is flaky on this unit, in that some of the keys do not register, and some of them need to be pressed hard. I know the keys which need pressure are probably just a mechanical connection, and suspect a sound cleaning of the keyboard might address that. The unresponsive keys are a different story. That could be a mechanical key problem. Or since the keyboard is an 8×8 matrix, it might be a cable, or ultimately the 6522 that drives the keyboard. Whatever the case, it should be fairly easy to fix, once I brace myself to attempting to fix it.


2 Responses to “Commodore SX-64”

  1. ocean says:

    Here’s a good quide to clean the keys, I just finished cleaning my SX:s, and it’s as good as new now!

  2. azog says:

    thanks ocean, I’ll definitely give that a shot!

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