VIC 20

When I was about 15 years old, a good friend had a Commodore VIC 20, Although I enjoyed playing the games, I secretly disliked the machine’s silly looking stretched characters, it's 22 column display, it's quirky Basic language that only seemed usable if you learn a zillion poke addresses, and it was inherent difficulty to load or save anything reliably from the data cassette deck. At the time I owned a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, and I was however impressed with the VIC's full stroke keyboard and it's full screen editor in Basic, both of which were lacking on the Spectrum. The full screen editor allowed you to move the cursor to any line of Basic and change it, and once ‘return’ was pressed the changes would be instantly recognized.

Well, that was then. Now I have a totally different appreciation for the mighty VIC-20. Although it lacked any sprite control like like the later Commodore 64, it's library of great games makes it a wonderfully enjoyable machine to play with. I used to own a Japanese Commodore 64 and a PET 64 (basically a Commodore 64 in a PET clothing), but I found they lacked a strong personality (let the flaming war begin). I sold both machines in favor of the earlier VIC 20.

A very important part of my hobby is having easy access to a library of software for all my machines, and the VIC 20 is no exception. I purchased a modern µIEC disk drive interface that stores software on SD card, and also acquired a switchable RAM expansion cartridge that allows me allocate memory to the address associated with game cartridges. This simple setup allows me to access to a large library of game cartridge dumps (as well as floppy based programs). I enjoy playing ‘Jupiter lander’ and ‘Omega Race’, both of these games I used to play and love back in the early 80's.

I have connected with a large and passionate online community and forum called Denial, and like all retro computing communities it are made up friendly and helpful geeks who are still creating new and interesting hardware and software.

RAM 5kB expandable to 40kB

ROM Commodore Basic 2.0

Keyboard 67 key full stroke

Released 1980

Price US$299.95


CPU 6502

Speed 1.7MHz

Video 16 color composite

Graphics 22x23 characters - 176x184

Sound 3 wave generators with 3 octave range