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RickR

Commodore VIC-20

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Does anyone else here collect VIC-20 stuff?

 

This is one of my personal favorites.  My high school had programming class that used the Commodore PET, so it was quite exciting when the VIC came out.  And it turned out it could play games quite well too!  VIC-20 and the tape drive were an awesome combo for a kid to have. 

 

I still have my original VIC, in the original box (tape drive too).  I've collected about 40 cartridges for it, but they are really hard to find in the wild.  I also have a multi-cart that uses DIP switches. 

 

I'll post some pics of my stuff soon.  In the meantime, let me know if anyone else remembers this great old system. 

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The heart of the VIC-20 is the VIC chip, which handles video and sound.  MOS originally made this chip to sell to game companies -- to complete with the Atari 2600.  No one bought it, so parent company Commodore ended up building a low cost computer around it instead.

 

Anyways, it's kind of interesting to see the games on the VIC-20 and imagine a game system built around the chip instead.  As an example, here's a video of Donkey Kong on the VIC.  The video is probably done on an emulator, as it's a little faster than it should be.  Compare this to the 2600 version of DK.  Its got 3 screens, and intermissions (kind of), and the graphics and gameplay are much better than the 2600 version.  I was just now playing this game on my own VIC-20, and it is a lot of fun and pretty challenging.  Most of the Atarisoft games for VIC-20 are like this...surprisingly good and a lot of fun. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKR1a6CKqrk

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Oh wow man thanks for clearing that up! I never looked up the specs on the VIC-20, but the casing misled me to believe maybe it was more like the C=64 than it really is. When you said MOS designed the VIC-20's chip to compete with the 2600 a little alarm went off inside my brain that said "hmm.. maybe the VIC-20 is more different from the C=64 than I had assumed". I always imagined they were close enough because of the casing. Graphically the VIC-20 looks pretty interesting, not often you see something that falls right between an Intellivision and 5200. Even the TI-99 was in the same ballpark as the Coleco. Pretty cool!

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After having it sit in storage since the early 90's, and after buying a disk drive in '98 off eBay for it (never could get it to work) - I dug it out last month but still have not hooked it back up. I bought one game "Shooting Gallery" from GameOver Video Games last Cyber Monday but still have not even tried it out!

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Vic was my first computer, and really my introduction to programming came from it. 

 

I used to buy the magazines (like most nerds) and type in the games they would list out in basic for you.    Altering those games and making them our own was how me and my friends really got into computers.   I lived in a tiny town, and there were maybe 4-5 of us in our little user group (remember those?) sharing software on cassettes. 

 

There were some great games for the Vic-20.  I think Omega Race was my favorite Arcade port, but Gorf on Vic was nice too.  However, I think the ones I sunk the most time into were Scott Adams adventure games!

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Also,  as a kid reading those magazines...I wanted to be a part of it all.  I remember seeing Epyx advertisements for Temple of Apshai and I just HAD to have it!   Unfortunately that required the C-64.   I found one company that mistakenly (I assume) listed Gateway to Apshai for Vic-20, so I immediately saved my money and ordered it. I was SO stoked!

 

When I got in the C-64 version my heart sank.  The company refunded my money, and even magnanimously allowed me to keep the free 5 1/4" floppy that came with every order.  That was also quite useful to a kid with a Vic and a cassette drive.

 

Ah, memories.   I eventually did get that C-64 and every version of Apshai they ever did. 

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It's huge difference between Vic 20 and C64. These computers don't even share the same 16 colour palette. Vic 20 was a very limited computer for it's time while C64 was the opposite when released 2 years later.

The VIC chip (video interface chip) was supposed to be used in arcade machines, when no one was interested to buy Commodores chip they built a computer using the VIC chip. C64 contains the VIC II chip.

Vic 20 just had 3583 bytes of free memory (of 5 KB) when booted up. No hardware sprites of scrolling. It was even hard to make bitmapped games using that small amount of memory and characters from the keyboard was often used for graphics. You could expand Vic 20 buying a 3K, 8K or 16K memory cartridge. Compared to Vic 20, Atari 800 was a technical masterpiece for it's time when released one year before Vic 20.

But...

Vic 20 wasn't about techical excellence, it was to bring the people an affordable colour computer. Vic 20 was the first computer ever to sell over 1 million units, thanks to it's low price and affordable games, and some skillful marketing by Commodore. Sure, Atari 800 was technical superior in every way, but at a much higher price. Vic 20 was about simplicity, and that's why myself and many other retro freaks still like Vic 20 so much. Besides that, some of the Vic 20 versions of certain games were quite good conversions. Omega Race for exemple is the best version available for any system.

I still like Vic 20 very much, it was my first computer ever. :)

I can post some of my own collection of roms later in this thread, there IS a couple of  real good homebrews on Vic 20 too.

Edited by RetroX

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