Just two months after the world's first internet-enabled Lego brick was created, geeks have resurrected eighties favourite the Commodore 64, as a retro web server.
According to Commodore hackers, Peter Eliasson and Adam Dunkels, "the possibility of connecting the Commodore 64 to an ethernet local area network has been a collective dream in the Commodore community for decades."
The resulting project, 'the Final Ethernet cartridge', was finished last Friday, when the Commodore 64 went live on the net.
"A C64 ethernet adapter would make it possible to connect the C64 directly to the internet, making it possible to download software, transfer data to and from the C64, play network games over the Internet; the possibilities are endless," said the duo.
The Final Ethernet cartridge was based on a Systor Vest AS embedded ethernet board mounted on a single 74LS139 chip that offers an interface with the legacy C64.
The extremely small uIP TCP/IP (transmission control protocol/internet protocol) stack was used as a software base to run not only a standard HTTP web server, but also a streaming RealAudio music feed from the C64 tape drive.
The uIP TCP/IP stack was used by Olaf Christ back in January to web enable a Lego Mindstorms brick.
But because the C64 is only equipped with 64KB of memory, "the regular web server application is not able to handle heavy load," warned its creators.
"Each web client uses a small amount of memory, and each TCP packet sent by the web clients has to be processed and parsed. With many simultaneous web clients browsing the server, memory and CPU cycles run out quickly.
"When the memory is exhausted any attempts to connect to the server are discarded, thus making it hard to reach the web pages on the server."
It would appear that as soon as word got out about the project's launch over the weekend, it was quickly blasted off the net by eager enthusiasts keen to see the server. Should it come back online any time soon, it can be found here.
Technical papers on the design can be found at the creators' homepage, here.
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