|one of the last VIC-20s produced|
These things were great game machines and wildly popular. Millions sold around the world. Our family was lucky enough to own two; one for me and one for my brother. My friends owned them. We used them socially, and traded information about programming. They inspired imagination and creativity, and had a certain charm or character that really caused a lot of their owners to absolutely love them. It would not be until iPad that a gadget would have a similar emotional impact one me.
|a great joystick for VIC-20 games|
In 1996, when home computers were becoming powerful enough to reasonably emulate older systems, a software VIC-20 emerged onto the scene. (Interestingly, this runs reasonably well inside of DOSBox on an iPad.) Inspired by the new emulator scene back then, I was fortunate enough to reach out and interview a number of key figures who originally worked on the VIC-20. That was eleven years after it was pulled from the US market and two years after Commodore itself folded. The interviews were enough to get myself a mention in a demo (video) and podcast, and that was a real thrill. You can almost see my full name from the Veni Vidi Vic! demo, Richard Melick, scrolling by in the screen capture below:
|Veni Vidi Vic!|
|Mega-Cart v20, S/N #246|
|DC2N w/LCD menu|
Luigi Di Fraia was busy developing and releasing his DC2N units, and a metric ton of old cassettes programs were making their way on to the Internet here and here. DC2N is just too cool. It is a self-contained digital accessory for Commodore computers that 100% emulates the old Commodore 1530 ("C2N Datasette") units. It uses an SD card instead of tape, and you can fit a lot of cassette images on one card. For me to store every tape image I could get my hands on completely filled two 1GB SD cards. More material than I could reasonably explore in a lifetime.
|µIEC in a recycled project box|
Jim Brain had already released his micro-IEC ("µIEC") units which are very reasonably priced. The serial bus they run on is called the IEC bus, hence the name. Like DC2N, µIEC is just too cool. It is another self-contained digital accessory for Commodore computers that 100% emulates the old Commodore disk drive units. Instead of floppy disks it uses an SD card, and you can fit a lot of programs and disk images on one card. ... Much more even than when dealing with cassette tape images. As with the tapes, a mountain of programs and disk images were already online thanks to the emulator scene, and µIEC could handle them all with ease. More programs are being added every day up to and including the old magazine type-in programs.
Check the forums at the Denial community for new releases. The board was started by an Art Professor that uses BASIC programs on the VIC-20 for artistic medium. It is great!
|hard-wired numeric keypad|
|grumpy old VIC|
One thing that wore out on everyone were those stock Commodore 64 power supplies. When they blew they usually took the whole computer with them.
|power supply disguised as disk drive|
Trivia: William Shatner promoted the VIC-20 in early commercials. In March of 2012, during an interview with Stacy Keebler, Jimmy Fallon stated on his Late Night show that he owned a Commodore VIC-20 ("the cheaper Commodore 64 knockoff") when growing up. Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, used his grandpa's VIC-20 for his first computer. In addition, the VIC-20 made brief theatrical appearances in these shows.
For more information you can research the following resources:
I have additional VIC-20 material over on my web site: http://www.geocities.ws/cbm Are you interested in computer history? Join the irregular regulars Earl Evans, David Greelish, and Carrington Vanston, plus surprise guests, in the show where everything old is news again. Gather 'round a virtual table where today's talk is about yesterday's computers. Get the skinny from the world of vintage computer hobbyists, collectors, enthusiasts, and old school geeks. They cover modern day vintage tech events, new developments for old hardware, the revival of retro tech, the best of 8 bit culture, and take many strolls down memory lane. Head on over to http://rcrpodcast.com and explore podcasts, review show notes and be informed of upcoming episodes. You'll be glad you did!