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- the Commodore VIC20 for the home market, was
the first colour computer that retailed as a "computer for the masses"
at less than US$300.
Some critics said the machine was seriously underpowered
but consumers bought
them as fast as Commodore could produce them. Other than the price,
consumers were attracted to the VIC because most software came on easy
to use ROM cartridges that just plugged in the back and started to work.
Commodore's very user
friendly BASIC 2.0 operating system and programming language booted when
the machine was turned on. No peripherals were required except a
television to be used as a monitor. Countless software developers
began building their skills using a VIC20 bought for a Christmas or
birthday present, years before many schools had reasonable computer courses.
My Commodore PET ownership and experience allowed me to skip an entire
course: I recall enrolling in Grade 10 "Data Processing" class (which
Commodore PET's). On the first day I was told I would be getting an A+
and that I should not to show up for class because I would be taking
highly constrained computer time away from others.
Unlike the PET, Commodore
never produced version Basic 4.0 upgrade ROM chips for the VIC. Like
the PET, however, the Commodore VIC-20 was released world wide relatively
quickly after it's U.S. and Canadian introduction.
The VIC had
different names in different parts of the world:
produced VIC's were labeled VC-20 which was supposed to be a play on the
hugely popular and inexpensive Volkswagen car brand: the VolksComputer was
a big hit in Europe. The impetus for changing the name was likely
that "VIC" spoken the German way is very close to f*ck. A VIC user
in Europe, Holger Zahnleiter, reports that In 1983 he
bought a VC20 kit for DM800; it came with a 16K expansion cartridge and a
Commodore sold the PET
product line through a tightly controlled channel of authorized resellers, which
gave the PET a professional image but limited mass market sales.
When VIC arrived, Commodore had a whole new plan: sell them everywhere! Soon
enough folding cardboard stands filled with VIC computers and peripherals
were appearing in all kinds of stores. There were still authorized
resellers who provided a high level of service and
had qualified hardware technicians on site but the majority of VICs were
sold in department stores and other businesses that had never dreamed of
selling computer previously. In Canada, Commodore even sold VIC's through
the Canadian Tire automotive / hardware store chain!
Late 1982 saw the
beginning of the end: the more expensive but much more capable Commodore
64 was announced. Just as the VIC 20
was becoming popular and many stores and some multi-level marketing
organizations had acquired significant inventories, rumors began to emerge
that Commodore was completing work on a vastly more powerful version of
the VIC 20 to be called the VIC 64, which of course was eventually
released as the Commodore 64.
As the rumors of the impending C64
release continued there was excitement and uncertainty in the Commodore
distribution channel and consumers. This was probably the
first experience many consumers had ever encountered with the phenomenon
we now refer to "u pgrading". Undoubtedly some were resentful. Some of those who had acquired large
inventories of VIC product found
themselves scrambling to modify their marketing plans and to obtain
price-protection as the value of VIC 20 products plummeted.
Commodore 64 production
ramped up, VIC prices dropped, and by 1984 it was obvious that there would not
be a place in the Commodore lineup for the venerable VIC-20.
1981 Jan - Feb
1982 Fall / Winter
Commodore has shipped
750,000 VIC-20 computers by the end of 1982.
Apple Computer has shipped 600,000 Apple II computers by the end of
Timex has shipped 600,000 Timex/Sinclair 1000 computers by the end of
Texas Instruments has shipped 575,000 TI 99/4 computers by the end of
- January 15th - Commodores founder,
visionary and CEO, Jack Tramiel quits Commodore with secret plans to buy
the near bankrupt Atari
- Commodore shows a Golden Jubilee version of
the 64 to commemorate the 1,000,000 C64 to be produced in the US
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VIC / CBM 1020 Docking Station
The metal lid lifts up and has space for a card expander (i.e. an expansion card that does nothing but allow several cards to plug in). Made of metal, it was likely fabricated in one of Commodore's filing cabinet factories in Canada.
VIC-Switch - Commodore 4015
The VIC Switch can connect 8 VIC's to a shared drive and / or printer. They were made in Sweden. Many of them carry the Commodore logo, they do not look very Commodore like so I think they were Branded by Commodore but not manufactured by Commodore.
I believe there is a 16 port model as well but I have never seen one.
VIC 1515 Printer
The VIC 1515 is was a real production printer but there seem to be precious few of them around today (2003).
VIC-20 64K Expansion
I have never seen one of these or even the 32K expansion made by Commodore.TORPET Nov 1983
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Commodore 128 / VIC 20 Eprom Programmer
This tool allowed you to 'burn' your programs onto EPROM (Electronically Programmable Read Only Memory). The EPROM could then be placed into a cartrige which could be easily used like any other cartrige program.
VIC Relay Cartridge
The cartridge plugs into the VIC User Port allowing the machine to control burgerar alarms, garage doors, lights, telephones, and other household devices
It contains 6 relay outputs and 2 inputs
This unit was made in Stockhold Sweden.
Victroller for Commodore VIC 20
This controller plugged into the Commodore VIC 20 user port to control upto 256 lights and other electric devices in your house.
COMPUTE! June 1983
VIC20 & C64 40/80 Switch
TORPET Nov 1983
VIC-20 & C64 Software
JumpMan, Temple of Apshai, Sword of Fargoal, Crush Crumble Chomp, Jumpan Junior
TORPET Nov 1983
VIC-20 Tax Prep
Tax software for 1982 Canadian Personal Income Tax
TORPET Nov 1983
42 New Commands - like a DOS Wedge
TORPET Nov 1983