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Commodore VIC-20

The VIC-20 was the first of my non-Sord collection. When a family member passed away in 1997, we had the task of clearing out the old house. Amongst all the normal household stuff, I found a battered VIC-20 and datasette. The system was filthy and had a broken spacebar.

I'd used a VIC-20 before - when it was a newish system, some older guys at Youth Group had one in the family. It never seemed that wonderful - at that point I had done a little programming on the Apple IIe and SORD M23, both of which had reasonable documentation (dispite the slightly rough translation of the SORD manuals from Japanese to English!), while the Commodore had a very simple BASIC. Anything interesting required a knowledge of addresses for various PEEKs and POKEs or, better still, an understanding of assembler.

Because of this, the VIC-20 stayed in the bottom of a box through a house move, and I only unearthed it in 2009. At that stage there was more keyboard damage, but after posting on a forum (either UK Vintage Radio or the Vintage Computer - I can't find the original post!) I had contact from a guy in Australia who had a spare keyboard from a C64 "breadbox."

During April 2009, I replaced the keyboard and tested the VIC - it worked perfectly.

Commodore VIC-20
The VIC-20 out of storage, filthy and damaged
Commodore VIC-20
Under the hood
Commodore VIC-20
Cleaned and a new keyboard

I haven't done any more on it since then - it's really a pretty limited computer - but have picked up a couple of game cartridges which I intend to test sometime.


The VIC-20 has 5 kB of memory, of which 3.5 kB is available to BASIC, and a custom datasette for cassette storage. It is quite limited, but paved the way for the Commodore 64, the best selling computer of the 8-bit era.

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