Commodore VIC-20

Definition of Commodore VIC-20

The Commodore VIC-20 is an 8-bit home computer introduced by Commodore International in 1980, being the first that surpassed one million units sold. It featured a 1 MHz MOS 6502 CPU, 5 KB of RAM, and a customized VIC-I video chip that provided graphics and sound capabilities. The VIC-20 was popular for its affordability, accessibility, and compatibility with a range of software and peripherals, making it a staple in early home computing.


The phonetics of the keyword “Commodore VIC-20” can be represented as:K – OM – UH – D – ORV – I – KT – W – EH – N – T – EEUsing the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), it would look like this:/’kɒmədɔːr/ /vɪk/ /’twɛnti/

Key Takeaways

  1. Commodore VIC-20 was the first affordable and user-friendly home computer, making it popular among families and hobbyist users.
  2. Released in 1980, the VIC-20 featured a 1 MHz CPU, 5 KB RAM, and had a color display with a built-in RF modulator, which allowed it to be connected to a TV.
  3. The VIC-20 had a large library of software, including games, educational programs, and productivity tools, and its success helped to pave the way for future successful Commodore computers, such as the C64.

Importance of Commodore VIC-20

The Commodore VIC-20, introduced in 1980, holds great significance in the technology world as it was one of the first affordable and accessible home computers, making computing widely available to the general public.

Priced under $300, its popularity contributed to the growth of personal computing and inspired a new generation of computer enthusiasts.

Featuring a user-friendly interface, built-in BASIC programming language, and compatibility with a wide range of peripherals, the VIC-20 opened up opportunities for learning, entertainment, and software development.

Its impact on the computing industry is seen as a pivotal moment, setting the stage for future advancements in home computing technology.


The Commodore VIC-20 was a groundbreaking home computer that emerged in the early 1980s. Launched as an affordable personal computer, the VIC-20 played a pivotal role in ushering technology into households worldwide.

Its primary purpose was to cater to a wide range of users, including beginners, hobbyists, and schools, mainly to perform basic computing tasks, such as word processing, spreadsheet calculations, and rudimentary database management. With its accessible price point and user-friendly interface, the VIC-20 enabled budding computer enthusiasts to write simple programs and games in BASIC, as well as explore computer graphics and sound capabilities.

Beyond the basic computing tasks, the VIC-20 served as a popular entertainment platform for video games and edutainment titles. Its cartridge-based system offered a growing library of games that capitalized on the computer’s graphic and sound features.

Over time, the VIC-20 continued to evolve as a cornerstone during the home computer revolution, fostering a growing community that developed new software, hardware peripherals, and instructional materials centered around this powerful little machine. In essence, the Commodore VIC-20 stood as an icon of technological achievement during the era, shaping the future of computer technologies and acting as a catalyst for the profound impact technology would have on our daily lives.

Examples of Commodore VIC-20

Educational Institutions: In the early 1980s, the Commodore VIC-20 was widely used in schools as a teaching tool in subjects like computer programming, mathematics, and language arts. Its affordability, easy-to-understand programming language (Commodore BASIC), and compatibility with various peripherals made it a popular choice for educators to introduce students to computer literacy.

Home Computing: The VIC-20 was one of the first affordable home computers, making it accessible to a wider consumer base. Families and individuals purchased the VIC-20 for use in various applications like gaming, personal finance management, typing practice, and even creating simple programs at home. With its simple design and user-friendly interface, the VIC-20 helped popularize home computing and pave the way for future personal computers.

Gaming: The Commodore VIC-20 was a popular gaming platform in the early 1980s due to its colorful display, sound capabilities, and compatibility with various game cartridges and peripherals like joysticks. Game programmers and enthusiasts utilized the VIC-20’s hardware capabilities to create a wide variety of games covering different genres such as action, adventure, puzzle, and educational titles. Some of the popular VIC-20 games included Radar Rat Race, Omega Race, and Choplifter. The VIC-20’s gaming success laid the foundation for the success of its successor, the Commodore

Commodore VIC-20 FAQ

1. What is the Commodore VIC-20?

The Commodore VIC-20 is an 8-bit home computer released in 1980 by Commodore International. The VIC-20 was the first computer of any description to sell one million units, and its compact and affordable design played a significant role in ushering in the home computer era.

2. Who created the Commodore VIC-20?

The Commodore VIC-20 was designed by Commodore International, which was a Canadian electronics and computer company founded by Jack Tramiel in 1954. The VIC-20 was created to provide an affordable and user-friendly home computer option for a broader range of consumers.

3. What are the hardware specifications of the VIC-20?

The VIC-20 is equipped with a 1MHz MOS 6502 CPU, 5 KB of RAM (including 1.5 KB available for user programs), and 20 KB of ROM. The computer has a built-in RF modulator for connection to a TV and can output both audio and NTSC or PAL video, depending on the region.

4. Which programming languages does the VIC-20 support?

The primary programming language for the VIC-20 is Commodore BASIC, which is an easy-to-learn language based on the popular BASIC programming language. The VIC-20 also supports assembly language and machine code programming for more advanced users.

5. What type of software is available for the VIC-20?

A wide variety of software was produced for the VIC-20 during its time on the market, including games, business applications, and educational titles. Many of these programs were released on cartridge, cassette tape, or floppy disk formats, and they range from simple text-based programs to more advanced graphical applications.

6. Is the Commodore VIC-20 still in production?

No, the Commodore VIC-20 was discontinued in 1984. However, there is still a dedicated community of enthusiasts who continue to create new software and hardware for the platform, and second-hand units are readily available for purchase online.

Related Technology Terms


  • 8-bit Home Computer
  • MOS 6502 Microprocessor
  • Commodore BASIC
  • 5KB RAM
  • 1980 Release Year


Sources for More Information


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