Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 version was one of the most popular conversions of Elite seeing local release versions in both the USA and in Germany.

The following versions of software were released:
- English cassette
- English 5 1/4" floppy disk
- English 5 1/4" floppy disk with "Load New Commander" music
- English 5 1/4" floppy disk with Lenslok protection
- German cassette
- German 5 1/4" floppy disk

Box Cover 300dpi

Cassette and Disk Versions

The Commodore 64 version was released on both cassette and 5 1/4" floppy disk.

Cassette 300dpi

Disk 300dpi

The original disk versions were not stocked by many stores, partly due the low uptake of disks in the UK, but also due the upgrade offer that was included with all cassette versions. One only had to send in their original cassette along with £4 which covered postage and packaging, and Firebird would send out a 5 1/4" floppy disk version. Many took up the offer and it is common to find floppy disks contained within a cassette box. The original floppy disk box, identified by an adhesive sticker over the cassette logo and barcode, were not sold in great numbers. This has resulted in original floppy disk versions commanding very high prices on the second hand market. 

Below: (Left) The cassette symbol and barcode found on Commodore 64 cassette boxes and (right) the label applied to indicate an original Firebird Commodore 64 floppy disk release.

Box Back Cassette Label 600dpiBox Back Disk Label 600dpi

 The Elite Disk Upgrade Offer coupons can be hard for the collector to find as most were either used, lost or thrown out. This is typical for many of the additional inserts included with Elite.

Below: For only £4 you could swap your Commodore 64 cassette for a 5 1/4" floppy disk using one of these upgrade offers.

Disk Upgrade Offer 300dpi


Above: The contents of the Commodore 64 cassette version of Elite.


Above: Elite running on a Commodore SX-64.


Above: An original 1980s Firebird Elite poster.

German Release

Manual Front 300dpi

The German version of the Elite Commodore 64 software was a complete conversion unlike many other games that simply repackaged the English version with foreign language manuals.

The only English elements remaining were the front cover of the box, the disk label and the Ship Identification Chart. The Flight Training Manual, Quick Key Control Guide, Dark Wheel novella, keyboard overlay and Elite membership form were all translated to German.

This version was available on both cassette and 5 1/2" disk.

Above: The German version of the Space Traders Flight Training Manual.

Key Guide Inner 300dpi

Above: The German release Quick Key Control Guide was fully translated.

USA Releases

Box Cover 300dpi

Left: Early Version. 

The first version of the USA release of Elite contained the same versions of the Space Traders Flight Trading Manual, Quick Key Control Guide and The Dark Wheel novella as the UK release. 

The competition form had a USA address and the warranty card was provided by Firebird New Jersey. 

Both versions have "Strategic Space Trading and Combat Adventure with Flight Simulation" written across the front of the box. No other Firebird editions, with the exception of the Apple II E version, include this text on the box cover.

The Ship Identification Chart for both versions appears to be a subtly different printing to the UK version as it does not contain the disclaimer on the lower right corner which states "Some versions of Elite do not feature all the above ships." This is probably because only the Commodore 64/128 and Apple II E versions were released by Firebird USA and all ships were included in both versions. 

Box Cover 300dpi

Left: Later Version. 

The printed material in the second version is unique to that version. The Space Traders Flight Training Manual has a heavier stock cover, but more noticeably the title block is now an orange/yellow rather than the more familiar red. Both the Control guide and the Flight Manual covers have a thin laminated finish. The Dark Wheel novella appears at first glance to be unchanged, however a comparison against the UK version reveals a lighter stock cover, although the content including a 'Printed in England' on the copyright page appears to be unchanged. 

The later version underwent a minor variation part way through its release cycle. In what have been considered a bad move in hindsight, Firebird New Jersey had the later version boxes printed with "Fly To Britain Competition" across where one would normally see the "Gold Edition" logo. Once the competition ended, there was still plenty of stock left so Firebird New Jersey had "Gold" stickers applied over the competetion on remining stock. The example above shows the "Gold" sticker applied.

The included registration and warranty cards are again USA based with return addresses to Firebird New Jersey.

Below: The second version of the USA floppy disk release also included the on-screen option to use a fast loader.

Fast Loader Option Screen

Lenslok on the Commodore 64???

Although thought by many to be unique in the Elite world to the early Sinclair ZX Spectrum versions, in a somewhat unusual move Firebird also implemented Lenslok technology in the first version of the Commodore 64 Elite released in the USA.

Below: The following screenshot was taken from our very own Commodore 64 during the loading of an original early USA floppy disk release of Elite, and yes, there was a red Lenslok included in the box!


Floppy Disk Version Identification

The disk provided with the second USA version is an updated version of software. Many Commodore users from the '80s recall the iconic "Load New Commander (Y/N)?" screen music that accompanied the updated version whilst the game loaded, although it is unclear whether the UK release had any visual identifier between versions. The second version of the USA disk can be identified by the words "COMMODORE 64" running across the top of the disk's "GOLD EDITION" logo as shown below.

Disk V2 600dpiDisk V1 600dpi

Left: The early USA version has Gold Edition without identifying the platform.

Right: The later USA version has the Commodore 64 name across the top of the Gold Edition logo.