Monday, December 19, 2011

The Secret History of Gaming: Article1 VIC-20

The Secret History of Gaming is our online version of Uncle Kaiser who each week joins our radio show in a segment aptly named 'Story time with Uncle Kaiser', in which he satisfies listener curiosities by telling them a story about a game of their choice.

I carry fond memories of Commodore's PET computer, but as with everything, including love. Relationships change quite rapidly in this greedy society.
Back in the dawn of computing, if you wanted a PET computer you couldn't just run down to your nearest EB and purchase one. You had to find a licensed seller, some sort of specialty shop. What a pain in the ass and because it was a pain in the ass, sales sucked and Commodore would have to change their tactic and come up with a better strategy.
Alas, the rise of a new computer. A home computer. A computer for dummies and no hoops to jump through in order to purchase one.
In 1980 Commodore released their new computer which was branded as VIC-20. The VIC-20 was a huge hit right off the bat being the first microcomputer to sell one million units. One million units of 8-bit heaven. How did they pull that off you ask? Quite easily. The VIC-20 sold for under $300.00 and was so easy to operate that it appealed to the masses. Commodore pumped these little temptresses into every damned store you can think of. If you wanted to play around computer style you could walk down the street and find VIC-20 at hobby shops, a department store, hot dog vending carts and even auto repair shops, because if a mechanic can play around with the VIC-20 it must be easy to operate. The VIC-20 was the first colour computer, it had a user friendly version of BASIC 2.0 which made programming easy(I wrote my first cook book and rock zine on my VIC) in fact the VIC gave the masses their first taste of programming, it also came with a floppy disk expansion and could hook up to a printer. A specific monitor wasn't essential as the VIC could hook up to a television set.
Even though the VIC-20 sold 2.5 million units around the globe it could not hold on. This historical marvel with it's 5.5K of RAM, 2 of which was eaten up by the Basic Operating System eventually forced developers to write code by hand.
As with everything, including love. Relationships change quite rapidly in this greedy society. In 1982, Commodore rolled out VIC-20's casket and announced the birth of their newest computer named Commodore 64.

Now you know the Secret History of the Commodore VIC-20.