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The VIC-20 is an 8-bit home computer produced by Commodore Business Machines. It was initially released in Japan in 1980 as a trial, and was later released in the U.S. and Europe in 1981, roughly three years after Commodore's first personal computer, the PET. The VIC-20 was aimed at the personal and hobby end of the market. It was the first microcomputer to sell one million units.
Jack Tramiel in 1980 argued hard for a cheap low cost computer, and during a crunch meeting in which it was argued against he warned 'The Japanese are coming, so we must become Japanese'. It also followed his philosophy that 'computers should be for the masses, and not for the classes'.
It features 5K RAM and a MOS 6502 CPU. The machine's keyboard-sized unit external design was later used by the Commodore 64 and C16. The machine has the Commodore 2.0 8KB ROM, the new Vic graphics set.
The early models used a keyboard very similar to the PET, and had a small mould resin square power supply, with a two prong connector that connected to the computer. later models used the wedge shaped power supply with a DIN connector that was also packed in with the Commodore 64.
On the rear, there is the composite video socket, but unlike the C64 no RF support, this is provided by an external modulator, this was so the machine complied with the US FCC regulations, which Commodore lobbied and had reduced for the launch of the C64. There is also a standard Commodore cassette interface, serial port, although the 1540 disk drive was not available for over a year after release, a ROM cartridge slot, which took games and utilities carts for instant loading, and also memory expansion packs up to 16K, more recent enthusiast carts have taken the memory up to 35K. There is also a user port for RS-232.
The right side of the machine has a single joystick port, the on off switch and the power socket.
This unit is allegedly housed in the casing of the Commodore VC-1001, a machine that performed so poorly within the Japanese market that the cases were repurposed for some models of the VIC-20.
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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH71376. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.
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