The VIC 20 is the predecessor of the C64. It was marketed as the VC-20 in German-speaking areas, and as the VIC-1001 in Japan. The VIC-20 was produced from 1981 to 1985.
The VIC-20 was Commodore's first home computer to have a color display, and it was the first home computer to sell more than one million units. In 1982, it was the best-selling home computer and was given the "Computer of the Year" award by International Computer Magazine. At its release, it sold for US$299.95 (1,000 DM) and for the price, it was a compact, user-friendly computer, even for new users.
Despite its small amount of memory, there have been numerous programs published, especially games on cassette and cartridge. There have also been many programs in the form of text for manual entry in computing magazines of the 1980s.
Its original name is derived from the newly developed VIC video chip (or, Video Interface Chip). In Germany, is was sold as the "VC-20", the name coming from Volkscomputer, meaning The People's Computer. Over its production lifetime, there were more than 3 million VIC-20 systems sold.
The VIC-20 looks almost identical to the C64. It is a keyboard computer and has the following ports and interfaces:
- Expansion Port (44-pin I/O) to connect cartridges
- Audio-/Video (5-pin Output) to connect a VIC-1510/1701/02/1804 monitor, or to a television with an RF Modulator.
- Serial Bus (IEEE-488, 6-pin I/O) to connect a diskdrive VIC-1540/41/70/71/81 or a printer MPS-801/802/803, VIC-1515/1525/1526
- Cassette-/Datasette-Connector (Cassette port 12-pin I/O) to connect a cassette recorder (Datasette) VIC-1530 or CN2
- Userport (RS-232 or Centronics; 24-pin I/O) to connect cartridges, reset buttons or modems (NB, it is incompatible with the Userport of the C64/C128!)
 Right Side
- One gameport (Controlports, 9-pin Input) to connect a joystick, lightpen, mouse or a few paddles
- Power Switch
- Power Connector (Power; first variant was 2-pin; new variant is 7-pin DIN) to connect the power supply
The internal components differ from that of the C64:
- Processor: MOS 6502B with ~ 1 MHz
- Memory: 5 KByte static RAM, with 3583 Bytes free and usable by BASIC, expandable up to 32 KByte
- ROM: 20 KByte total, divided into:
- Graphics: VIC-I 6561
- Sound: The VIC-I 6561 is used for the sound generation (3 registers and 1 register for noises with ~128 notes)
- Keyboard: 66 buttons(QWERTY), with multiple chars
- Others: Interface-Chip VIA-6522 for I/O control
- Dimensions: 403*204*72 mm
- Weight: ~ 1800 g
- Power Supply: 9V~ with a 220V/50Hz AC power supply
- Power Consumption: 25W
- The cassette or datasette drive VIC-1530 and other Commodore Datasettes (outside VC-1531)
- For the VIC-20 was the disk drive VIC-1540 developed. The follower are the VIC-1541, VC-1570/71/81 and can be used in the VIC-20 mode.
- Serial printer like the matrix printer CR-variant VIC-1515 or VIC-1525/26.
 VC-20 Cartridges
- 3 KB Memory expansion cartridge VC-1210, which increases the memory to 8 KByte, meaning 6655 chars (Bytes) can be used in total. Memory extensions up to a maximum of 32 KByte are possible (with a maximum of 28 KByte for BASIC programs) e.g. with the 16 KB memory module VC-1111 and 8 KB Memory module VC-1110. Third-party Memory Expansion Cartridges include:
- RAM module with 27/32 KByte (Hard- & Software Klaus Jeschke, with Jumper for selecting the memory amount and configuration)
- Big Block (MSD Inc.), 16 KByte
- Vixen, 16 KByte (Stonechip Electronics, with Jumper for selecting memory amount and configuration)
- Super X2 (Visount), 64 KByte Expansion Pack (with Jumper for selecting memory amount and configuration)
- Super-Expansion-Module VC-1211/1211A with graphics and plotting commands, function key usage and piano keyboard
- Programming-Help-Module VC-1212 with help tools, Assembly monitor and usage of function keys
- Assembler-Module VC-1213
- Module-Box VIC-1010 or VC-1020, which allows the user to connect up to 5 more cartridges
- BASIC extensions such as Waterloo Structured BASIC (VIC-1001, a Commodore Canada release only), and BASIC for the VIC-1801, or programming languages like VIC-Forth (VIC-2013, from HES too)
- IEEE-488 connection module VC-1112, which allows the user to connect more peripherals
- VIC Voice Synthesizer (VIC-1214)
- The IEEE-488 connection module VC-1011 for additional peripherals and scientific/technical instruments or the Relay Module VC-1900.
- The connection seperator MBS-CP (VIC-4012) to connect additional computers to one peripheral and one Remote Control Switch (VIC-4011).
- Connection of modems with the V24 connection module VC-1011A (Terminal Type) or VC-1011B (Current Loop Type); with the Userport
- VICMODEM Telephone Interface Cartridge (VIC-1600) and Adapter Module (VIC-1605)
- VICterm 40 (VIC-1610)
Directly from Commodore exist the following game cartrigdes:
VIC/ | Name of Cartridge VC-No | ------|------------------------------------------------- 2011 | Statistic module (Application) 2012 | VIC-Graph (German: Kurvendiskussion; Application) 2013 | VIC-Forth (Programming language) 1901 | Avenger / VIC Avenger (German: Alpha-Alarm) 1902 | Star Battle / Galaxian 1903 | Rally-X ? 1904 | Slot / Super Slot (German: Las Vegas) 1905 | Jelly Monsters / Pacman (German: Steinbeisser) 1906 | Alien / Super Alien (German: Monster Alien) 1907 | Jupiter Lander (German: Landung auf Jupiter) 1908 | Poker / Draw Poker (German: StarPoker) 1909 | Road Race / Midgnight Race / Knight Drive (German: Nacht-Rallye) 1910 | Radar Ratrace / Radar Rat Race / Rally-X? (German: Katz und Maus) 1911 | The Sky is Falling / Sky Hole (German: Sterntaler) 1912 | Mole Attack / Mole Hitting (German: Hau den Lukas) 1913 | Raid on Fort Knox / Bank Robber / Raiders (German: Räuber und Gendarm) 1914 | Adventure Land (German: Logik Abenteuer 1, Scott Adams Adventure Series 1) 1915 | Pirates Cove (German: Logik Abenteuer 2) 1916 | Mission Impossible (German: Logik Abenteuer 3) 1917 | The Count (German: Logik Abenteuer 4) 1918 | Voodoo Castle (German: Logik Abenteuer 5) 1919 | Sargon II Chess / Chess (German: Schachprogramm Sargon II) 1920 | Pin Ball / Pinball Spectacular 1921 | Super Smash 1922 | Cosmic Cruncher 1923 | Gorf 1924 | Omega Race 1925 | Money Wars 1926 | Menagerie 1927 | Cosmic Jaillbreak 1928 | Home Babysitter 1929 | Personal Finance (Application) 1930 | Visible Solar System (Application) 1931 | Clowns 1932 | Garden Wars 1933 | Speed Math & Bingo Math (educational programm) 1934 | - 1935 | Commodore Artist 1936 | Phoenix-Clone (never released) 1937 | Seawolf (Paddle game) 1938 | Tooth Invaders 1939 | Star Post 1940 | - 1941 | Number Nabber & Shape Grabber
Many Commodore datasettes exist for the VIC-20:
- Highway (german: Autobahn; Art.-No. 130170)
- Auto-Rallye (Art.-No. 130010)
- 17+4 (Black Jack; Art.-No. 130070)
- Black Max (Art.-No. 130120)
- Brennball (a german game, sometimes in the USA called 'Kickball'; Art.-No. 130110)
- China Clan (Art.-No. 130230)
- Earth Defense (Art.-No. 130130)
- Drive Simulator (german: Fahrsimulator; Art.-No. 130150)
- Dangerous Rain (german: Gefährlicher Regen; min. 8 KByte-RAM; Art.-No. 130140)
- Gobang (Art.-No. 130180)
- Hell Driver (Art.-No. 130210)
- Invasion from Space (german: Invasion aus dem All; Art.-No. 130060)
- Canons (german: Kanonen; Art.-No. 130160)
- Bowl (german: Kegeln; Art.-No. 130200)
- Air Combat (german: Luftkampf; min. 3 KByte-RAM; Art.-No. 130050)
- Owerri (min. 3 KByte-RAM; Art.-No. 130190)
- Tank Battle (german: Panzerschlacht; min. 3 KByte-RAM; Art.-No. 130220)
- Quizmaster (min. 8 KByte-RAM)
- Spielautomat (Art.-No. 130030)
- Super-Cobra (Art.-No. 130020)
- Synthesziser (Musicprogramm; Art.-No. 130270)
- UFO (Art.-No. 130310)
- Vielsaitig (Musicprogramm, the name is a german word-play; Art.-No. 130310)
- Address Register (min. 8 KByte-RAM; Art.-No. 140010)
- BASIC Course (Art.-No. 140020)
- Biology (Art.-No. 130290)
- Biorythmus (min. 3 KByte-RAM; Art.-No. 130080)
- Christiani Compact Course (BASIC Course; Art.-No. 570040)
- Chemistry (Chemie; Art.-No. 130310)
- File (min. 16 KByte-RAM; Diskette; Art.-No. 130370)
- Know your own IQ (Art.-No. 130320)
- Know your own personality (Art.-No. 130330)
- Mathematics 1 (Art.-No. 130280)
- Mathematics 2 (Art.-No. 130410)
- MiniMeb (min. 16 KByte-RAM; Diskette; Art.-No. 130360)
- Physics (Art.-No. 130300)
- Fun of Calculation (german: Rechenspaß; Art.-No. 130240)
- Typewriter Training (german: Schreibmaschinenkurs; min. 16 KByte-RAM; Art.-No. 130420)
- Simplicate (min. 16 KByte-RAM; Diskette; Art.-No. 130550)
- Special Character Editor (Art.-No. 130030)
- Stock Control (min. 8 KByte-RAM; Art.-No. 130390)
- Preschool programs (german: Vorschulprogramme; min. 8 KByte-RAM; Art.-No. 130250)
- Writer (min. 8 KByte-RAM; Diskette; Art.-No. 130385)
 Software Collections
- VIC-20 Cassette 6-Pack (Entertainment with games and educational programs):
- Car Chase
- Blue Meanies from Outer Space
- Biorhythm (Application)
- Space Math (Educational Program)
- Casino Math (Educational Program)
- Super Slither
- VIC-20 Cassette 6-Pack (Applications):
- Personal Finance 1
- Personal Finance 2
- Loan/Mortgage Calculator
- Home Inventory
- Expense Calendar
- VIC-20 Cassette 6-Pack (Mathematics):
- City Motel
- LCM Machine
- Ruler Dueler
- VIC-20 Cassette 6-Pack (Sampler):
- Alpha Draw
- Big Bad Wolf
- Music Synthesizer
- Super Seeker
- Treasure of the Bat Cave
Beside the Japanese version, there was also a Swedish version with special characters, and a French version for SECAM TVs.
Also, there were a number of variations of the VIC-20/VC-20 logo in the upper left corner of the case.
As with the C64, you must first connect the cables, insert the cartridges and turn on the peripherals before turning on the VC-20.
You will then see the following start screen with the blinking cursor (if the cartridge has programs on it, they will start immediately):
**** CBM BASIC V2 **** 3583 BYTES FREE READY.
The blinking cursor shows the computer user that the BASIC interpreter ready is for input. BASIC programs can be entered, loaded or saved at this point. CBM BASIC and BASIC commands are the same as the C64's Commodore Basic V2. The VC-20 differs from the C64 in the following ways:
- A small BASIC memory of 3583 bytes (chars) free.
- It has a logical screen line of 87 chars (4 lines with 22 chars).
- The maximum number of BASIC lines is 63999.
- The dimension of arrays with the BASIC command DIM is only partly possible, using of 3 or 4 dimensions is required a memory expansion.
- The constant PI (π) is only 3.14159265 (a decimal less than the C64)
- The memory addresses used by the BASIC commands PEEK and POKE are different.
- Screen memory from 7680 until 8185 with the chars code from 0 until 127 (128-255 repeat the chars 0-127)
- Color-RAM forum 38400 until 38905 with the following colors:
- 0 Black
- 1 White
- 2 Red
- 3 Cyan
- 4 Violet
- 5 Green
- 6 Blue
- 7 Yellow
- The screen color (frame and background) can be changed with the memory adress 36879 with the values from 0 until 255. First will be set the frame color (first 8 colors: black, white, red, cyan, violett, green, blue, yellow), after that the background color (16 colors: black, white, red, cyan, violett, green, blue, yellow, orange, lightorange, rosa, lightcyan, light violet, lightgreen, lightblue, lightyellow). Meaningful values are from 8 until 15, 24 until 31 or from 248 until 255, because the frame color has got only 8 colors (by using interim value the text will be unreadable !).
- Sound: The memory adresses from 36874 until 36877 with the values from 128 until 255 for the registers 1-4 (4. register is only for noise generation) and memory adress 36878 with the values from 0 until 15 for the volume.
- Tip: By using memory expansions (particularly the 3KByte RAM-Cartridge) can change the memory addresses !
 List of books
|ARCsoft Publishers||101 Programming Tips & Tricks for the VIC-20 and Commodore 64|
|Birkhäuser||Explosive Spiele für Ihren VC20|
|Commodore||Alles über den VC20 (Commodore Sachbuchreihe Band 2) |
Das VC20 Spiele-Buch (Commodore Sachbuchreihe Band 5)
VC20 VolksComputer Handbuch (Bedienungshandbuch)
VC20 Programmierhandbuch (identisch mit "Alles über den VC20")
VC20 Service Manual (Technische Reparaturinformation)
|Data Becker|| VC-20 Intern |
VC-20 Tips & Tricks
Das Casettenbuch zu Commodore 64 und VC-20
|DBV||Lerne Basic mit dem Volkscomputer VC20|
|Hagemann||Besser programmieren mit dem VC20|
|Haller||Messen, steuern, regeln mit dem VC-20 und C-64|
|Hofacker||Programme für VC20 Spiele, Utilities, Erweiterungen|
|Hueber||Spiele für Ihren VIC-20|
|Interface Age||Das Interface Age Systemhandbuch zum Commodore 64 und VC-20|
|Kiehl Verlag||Die Floppy des Commodore 64 und VC-20|
|Markt & Technik (Computer Persönlich)||Basic mit dem VC-20 |
Das VC-20 Buch
Grafik mit dem VC-20
Programme und Tips für VC20
|Mc Graw Hill Boock Company||VC20 Anwenderhandbuch|
|Ravensburger||VC20/C64 (15 attraktive Nutz- und Spieleprogramme)|
|S+S Soft||VC20/64 Zwei Supercomputer unter der Lupe|
|Vogel||CHIP Spezial: Commodore VC20 Programme Ausgabe 1 und 2|
- VC-20 informations, Hard- and Software by vic20.de
- Manual for the MAC-Emulator Power20
- Another overview of VC-20 cartridges by www.zock.com
- VIC-20 Denial Wiki