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1980s Microcomputers and the LINPACK Benchmark


Nick Higham

As an undergraduate and postgraduate student in the early 1980s I owned a Commodore Pet microcomputer and then a Commodore 64. Both came with Basic built into ROM. On booting the machines you were presented with a flashing cursor and could type in programs to be executed by the Basic interpreter or load programs from cassette or disk.

I used the machines in my research on matrix computations, writing many programs in Basic and Comal (a more structured, Pascal-like version of Basic, originating in Denmark).

Recently, I was looking for information about the microprocessors used in the early microcomputers. I could not find what I wanted, but remembered that some relevant information is contained in the appendices of a technical report Matrix Computations in Basic on a Microcomputer that I wrote in 1985 (the published version 1 omits the appendices). Specifically, the appendices contain

  • specifications of the Commodore 64, theā€¦

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