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Commodore VIC-20

Published: June 26, 2021

The Commodore VIC-20 debuted in June of 1980 at the Computer Electronics Show but its development started almost by accident two years earlier. Commodore engineered and manufactured the "Video Interface Chip 6560" or VIC1 for the video game market which was beginning to collapse. After not being able to sell the chip, Commodore developed the VC-20 as an inexpensive home computer. The Commodore VIC-20 was intended to be more economical than the PET computer. It was equipped with 5 KB of static RAM and used the same MOS 6502 CPU as the PET. Between early 1981, when the VIC actually hit store shelves, and the first few months of 1985, when the last VIC-20 production line was shut down, it had sold more than 2.5 million units. It had an very impressive peak daily production of 9000 units and was the worlds first computer to sell more than 1 million units.

Commodore VIC-20

Competitors

The home computer competitors were the Apple II, Atari 400 and to a lesser degree the Radio Shack TRS-80.  Those had dedicated sound and graphics features but they were much more expensive.  Jack wanted cheap and Jack was seldom wrong about the market.  To get around the hardware limits, the software engineers used clever commands to "Peek" and "Poke" sounds and graphics.

Critics said the machine was seriously under-powered but consumers bought them as fast as Commodore could produce them.  Other than the price, consumers were attracted to the VIC-20 because most software came on easy to use ROM cartridges that just plugged in the back and started to work.  As the vintage VIC-20 television advertisement below states "If you are going to spend your time playing computer games, why not do it on something that can also teach you about computing".

Trivia

The VIC-20 was called VC-20 in Germany because the pronunciation of VIC with a German accent sounds like the German expletives "fick" or "wichsen".[7][8] The term VC was marketed as though it was an abbreviation of VolksComputer ("people's computer," similar to Volkswagen and Volksempfänger).

Summary

  • Manufacturer: Commodore Business Machines (CBM)
  • Model: VIC-20 / VC-20
  • Date Announced: 1981
  • Date Canceled: 1985
  • Number Produced: 2.5 million plus
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Original price in 1980: $300 -> $750 in today's money (2021)

The VIC-20 was the bestselling computer of 1982, with 800,000 sold. That summer, Commodore unveiled the Commodore 64, a more advanced machine with 64 KB of RAM and considerably improved sound and graphics. Initial sales of the C64 were slow, but took off in mid-1983. The VIC-20 was widely available for under $90 by that time.

Commodore discontinued the VIC-20 in January 1985.

Instructions & manuals

Looking for the instructions?
Download here the Commodore VIC-20 manual (PDF).

Browse other Commodore game consoles:
6416128

Commodore VIC-20 value and price guide

What's your Commodore VIC-20 worth in 2021? Here are some recently sold items.

Item Title Date Price
Commodore Commodore VC1540 VIC1540 Early Commodore VC1540 VIC1540 Early Model 05/2021 $ 703.34
Commodore Commodore Vic 20 Computer Commodore Vic 20 Computer Games Manuals 05/2021 $ 356.36
Commodore Commodore VIC 20 Home Computer Commodore VIC 20 Home Computer System W 04/2021 $ 475.16
Commodore PROM QUEEN EPROM PROGRAMMER PROM QUEEN EPROM PROGRAMMER FOR 07/2021 $ 546.43
Commodore Commodore VIC 20 PAL PET style Commodore VIC 20 PAL PET Style Keys 05/2021 $ 489.36
no pictureSee all sold items on eBay for more prices08/2021-.--

Commodore VIC-20 forum

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Thanks, comment waiting for approval!
Jeanne - November 18, 2019
How much would I be able to get for a commodore vic-20 with voodoo castle?
Show reply
JohnJeanne - November 18, 2019
The console is around 40-80 USD, the game around 10 USD.
Linda - May 16, 2021
How much can a commodore vic 20 computer, tape recorder, reference book, controllers, and tapes plus more be sold for. Anyone interested??
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Commodore VIC-20 for sale on eBay US