William Shatner and the Commodore VIC-20 introduced thousands of
people to low-cost computing. For those that enjoyed science fiction and
Star Trek, Shatner was the perfect choice by Commodore to pitch thier new
low cost computer. It was unvieled in June 1980 and sales reached 1,000,000 units by April of 1983. It came with only 3k RAM standard and plugged up to your television set, but could be easily expanded with a datasette recorder, floppy disk drive, more memory, printers, and modems. Most of it's software came in the form of cartridges, which plugged into the single cartridge connector on the rear of the machine, or on cassette tapes. Because Commodore used a dedicated datasette recorder, the machine wasn't plagued with the problems that other systems had with thier tape systems, such as constantly having to fine tune the volume. If no cartridge was plugged into the rear of the machine, the VIC-20 booted directly into it's own version of BASIC. Shatner's slogan as VIC-20 spokesperson was "Why buy just a video
game?.....The wonder computer of the 1980's. Under $300." Commodore also
billed the VIC-20 as the 'friendly computer'.
Like other Commodore 8bit machines, during it's production run there came to be a number of different variants on the VIC-20. The two that immediately come to mind both used the same beige colored case, but the early version had a two prong power connector, and a simple (gold letters on black background) name lable in the upper left corner of the case. The second, later variant used a mini-din connector for the power supply unit, the PSU being a brick similar to the C-64's, and had a rainbow added to the above nameplate. The VIC-20 case was adapted for use on a number of different products later,
including the C-64 and the ill-fated C-16.
On April 29, 1994 Commodore International shut it's doors. Early in 1995,
German PC-manufacturer ESCOM bought Commodore, though they themselves would
go into receivership the next year.
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