Commodore VIC-20 : My First Computer

I just gave away my first computer, Commodore VIC-20 to a computer dealer. I remember I was gifted the famous VIC-20 by my father in 1983 and it was a prized possession. Computers have advanced so much in last 2 decades that the specifications seem unbelivable.

VIC-20 Computer

Commodore VIC-20 was an 8-bit home computer manufactured by Commodore Business Machines, with 5 KB RAM and a MOS 6502 CPU. The VIC-20 was the first microcomputer to sell one million units. The name “VIC” came from the Video Interface Chip.

Since there was no floppy drive, I remember loading games and programs on cassette tapes and cartridges. There were several programming books available which let you type the hundreds of line of BASIC code, and run simple games and programs. A single semicolon or bracket or period could cause the whole program to just not work. And besides the common syntax errors, the error which froze everything was “Out of Memory” (I bet you never thought your 200GB hard drive could ever say that).

The screen normally showed 22 columns and 23 rows of 8-by-8-pixel characters. The screen dot matrix was 176 by 184 with up to 16 colours. BIN used to be a popular programming command to add more details to the large blocks.

It came with 5 KB RAM, but 1.5 KB were used by the system for various things, so only 3.5 KB was practically available (Windows Vista Ultimate works best with 2GB RAM!). We expanded the VIC-20’s RAM with plug-in cartridges of 16K and play more advanced games.

What was your first computer? Share your memories…

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About the Author: P Chandra is editor of QOT, one of India's earliest tech bloggers since 2004. A tech enthusiast with expertise in coding, WordPress, web tools, SEO and DIY hacks.