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Though I had several friends back in the day with a Commodore 64, I only recently acquired one after a friend gave me his old one before he moved house. As such, I'm diving in to learning about the machine that I mostly ignored 35 years ago and quickly remembering that the 1541 disk was s.....l.....o.....w.....!

I've been reading up on the disk performance issue. I knew people who had the Epyx FastLoad cartridge, but I've only really now discovered JiffyDOS. While both are interesting solutions, they both require hardware that I'd have to acquire (and in the case of JiffyDOS, replacement of ROM chips in the C64 and 1541). Getting the hardware is possible, but takes time that I don't have for the few moments a week I can possibly dedicate to my retro C64 experience.

So that being said, is there a possible type-in program that could work as a one-off to fast load a game? I'm thinking along the lines of something that I could save to a disk, run it, then load/run the game I want to boot.

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There were quite a number of software-only fast loaders for the C-64+1541:

  • Hypra Load
  • Speed Load
  • ...and many others (a quite comprehensive list can be found in the C64-Wiki)

Fast loaders are (typically quite short, as they need to be loaded "slow") pieces of code that can accelerate floppy loading times 5-10 times (some even faster). The overall acceleration is the result of the actual speed-up of the transfer, plus the extra time needed to slow-load the loader itself and the transfer of the drive-end of the software to the drive - So the speed-up is only significant for reasonably long programs. Fast loaders don't work with all programs and will very probably be de-activated by multipart loaders in games, so your mileage may vary.

A fast loader typically consists of two pieces of code, one running on the computer, the other executed on the separate CPU in the Commodore floppy drive. Thus, your software version must match the type of floppy drive - there are special loader versions for 1581 drives.

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I would recommend SDOS 2016. It is more recent than what is linked from the C64-Wiki, and it includes documentation and source code. But you probably wouldn't want to type it in. It's pretty long...

The readme.txt offers a quick synopsis of the functionality.

SDOS is based on SJLOAD and VDOS. This is a common boot loader that checks the drive and chooses among three possibilities:

  1. if JiffyDOS protocol is supported, it starts as SJLOAD;
  2. if not, it tries to start as VDOS (which is possible on 1541 and 1571 drives in C64 mode);
  3. if none of them are present, it stays at Kernal load.

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