by Hollie Wegman ・ Office Hacks

Office Hack #37 — Mulesoft’s Commodore 64 Hack

 

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Your Christmas list might include a smart watch or swanky speakers, or some other newfangled technology - but maybe, just maybe, someone out there is hoping they’ll get a Commodore 64 under the tree.

That’s right. The 30+ year old computer from the 80’s just may have a place in this uber-connected world after all, thanks to Mulesoft.

Mulesoft is a San Francisco-based company that provides integration software for connecting applications, data sources and APIs.

In a recent internal hackathon event, a few Mulesoft engineers put their heads together on how they might revive this technological brick of yesteryear. Their goal: make this old PC interact with things it was never designed to, like the internet and the Internet of Things.

Given there’s no ethernet port or WiFi capabilities built into a Commodore 64, this was challenge number 1.

Challenge number 2: computing power. Memory on this baby is 64KB of RAM, which compared to a standard computer these days with 4 GB RAM, isn’t a lot.

Challenge number 3: keeping the computer on for longer than a day. Turns out, computers from the 80’s don’t like to run 24/7.

The point of conquering these challenges? Sport, partly, but more importantly, if the team could accomplish this, the whole experiment would serve as a tangible example of how Mulesoft’s integration software works.

As you can see in this image above, there were a number of inputs. This office hack was made possible thanks to a Raspberry Pi and Mulesoft, of course!

“Processing all of those data sources is a Mulesoft application running in Cloudhub that uses DataWeave to trim and transform the raw data into commands that can be understood by the Commodore 64 and then places those commands as messages onto our cloud messaging solution, Anypoint MQ.” Steven Butt, Senior Mulesoft Engineer

There were definitely a few sleepless nights leading up to the hackathon… one of the team-leads even had to leave suddenly to be present for the birth of his second son, but the team succeeded in their mission.

“We were telling James, I think you should probably just go home and he was saying, no, no, I need to finish up the artwork and give you guys this in order to finish off. It was really fun. There’s always something that goes wrong in the hour leading up to [a demo]. For sure, there’s been lots of times we all pushed each other and tore our hair out about it. Ultimately, it’s been great. We all learned a lot.” Jeff Harris, Principal Engineer at MuleSoft

The outcomes of this project: a Commodore 64 that controls a smart light, displays the current weather, and tweets. In fact, you can follow @Muleadore64 on Twitter if you want to check out tweets from this beloved PC.

But the Commodore 64 experiment didn’t end there. After we left, the team went on to set up the computer in its company lobby and integrated it with Envoy and its Mulesoft visitor log.

How to hack it

Want to hack your own Commodore 64? The Mulesoft team wrote a detailed description of this project here.

Listen & Subscribe

You can listen to the full story in the Envoy Office Hacks podcast. Please subscribe to the podcast in iTunes — just click here and hit ‘subscribe’.