To most, the Commodore 64 was a text based computer system. You switch it on, a moment later you see the prompt. If you weren’t wasting time with a 20 GOTO 10 print command, you were no doubt using LOAD “” or LOAD “” ,8,1 to load the software on the tape or diskette.
For most people, mouse driven desktop operating systems came along with Windows, although the first mass produced system with a mouse GUI was 1984 Apple Macintosh. Two years later, GEOS (Graphic Environment Operating System) was released on the C64, heavily resembling the Mac environment. A version was released for the Macintosh too, along with the Commodore 128 and Plus/4 computers.
Of course, GEOS is no longer maintained, which brings us to TEOS. This is a one-man hobbyist project to develop a desktop operating system for the Commodore 64 relying not on graphics but the system’s text characters. In the demo video above you can see how developer 64jcl (also behind retrocollector.org) has incorporated music playback and image loading into the OS, along with a task manager and other windows.
64jcl comments: “there are a lot of comprimises [sic]… the performance and lesser memory use in text mode was the main reason for starting the project. The whole OS is built upon normal text mode because its much faster/more responsive that way unlike GEOS which uses bitmap mode which is rather slow. So the character set is 8×8 pixels… there are several levels of multitasking and my OS has two different types.”
But will it launch games? Well, probably not in its current form. However, TEOS has come to the attention of the mega65 team, so who knows what the future holds for 64jcl’s project?
Gaming since 1984, retro gaming since 2004. Contributes to Linux Format magazine and MakeUseOf.com.