Commodore VIC 20

Commodore VIC-20 computer

The VIC 20 home computer was developed based of the Commodore PET computer for learning and playing purposes.

The VIC 20 computer, together with the British Sinclair ZX80 and ZX81, played a major role in introducing the category of home computer to the market, in spreading inexpensive personal computers in homes and in the so-called price explosion in the early 80s, primarily tied to the ZX81. (It cost around $ 300.)

Millions of VIC20 computers were produced and sold, and until the mid 80s, it was a key computer platform. In the mid 80s, this computer appeared in a considerable quantity in Hungary as well, procured primarily from sell-outs in Austria and West Germany.

Manufacturer: Commodore, USA, 1981.

RAM 5 Kilobyte (from which 3583 bytes can bee freely used from when switching on), ROM 16 Kilobyte. Control unit: MOS / Commodore 6502A (clock signal  1 MHz). Graphics resolution up to 184 x 176 pixels, alphanumeric resolution: 23 x 22 characters. For graphics, the Video Interface Chip (VIC) was used. 3-channel tone generator

The computer’s power supply is provided from an external power supply unit.

It had an extra strong push-button keypad integrated to the CPU to which the Datasette, Commodore’s dedicated computer tape drive could be connected as storage medium. It could either be attached to a dedicated monitor or a TV set using the external modulator included with the computer.

The Commodore VIC 20 included the BASIC programming language burnt into the ROM.

Peripheral devices such us monitor, printer, plotter, joystick, RAM expansion and other graphic peripherals could be connected to the computer.

There were plenty of software available for the model VIC 20. The programmes were primarily released on cassette tapes but a number of programs, especially games, appeared also in ROM cartridges. The advantage of the ROM cartridge is that the loading happens immediately.

The Commodore VIC 20 was introduced to the market with a flashy advertising campaign. The face of the ad campaign was the popular William Shatner. The ads targeted the audience of video consoles (Atari 2600) emphasizing that they can get a full-featured, programmable computer, on which colour graphics games are also available.

The VIC 20 was marketed as the VC 20 in German-speaking areas ( the name coming from Volkscomputer, meaning The People’s Computer) , following the tradition of the radios and cars of the people. In Japan, it was introduced as the VIC 1001.

The logical continuation and successor of the reliable VIC 20 computer, excellent for learning and playing, was the Commodore 64, a fundamental computer model of the home computer market for a decade, all over the world.