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Commodore 64 runs AI to generate images — takes 20 minutes per 90 iterations to make 64 pixels


(Image credit: Nickbild on GitHub)

The release of the Commodore 64 in August 1982 marked a historic moment in personal computing history. The popular PC became one of the best-selling computers of all time. Surprisingly, even today, this iconic machine can be used for AI image generation, albeit with some limitations.


Developer and hobbyist Nick Bild has created a Generative AI tool for the Commodore 64, capable of generating 8x8 sprites displayed at 64x64 resolution. While this tool can inspire game design concepts, it falls short of generating complete sprite sheets. Nevertheless, it's remarkable that such a feat is possible on such old hardware. Despite taking twenty minutes to run 90 iterations for a final image, the fact that it can perform this task at all is impressive given the age of the hardware.


This achievement also echoes a recent story from mid-April, where the Commodore 64 outperformed a modern IBM QPU (Quantum Processing Unit) in a quantum utility experiment.


The AI model running on the Commodore 64, specifically the "probabilistic PCA algorithm," was trained on a modern computer, highlighting the need for a modern PC to set up such projects. While the Commodore 64 can handle the model, its training required more modern hardware.


This development underscores the versatility of the Commodore 64 and challenges the notion of what constitutes an "entry-level" AI PC. While manufacturers may debate this, the Commodore 64 proves that the entry-level is where users define it. With skill, determination, and patience, the Commodore 64 shows that nearly anything is possible, though practicality remains a separate consideration. Even other modifications to the Commodore 64, such as the Raspberry Pi C64 expansion cartridge playing Doom, may offer more practical applications for end users compared to AI sprite generation on 40-year-old hardware.




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