Rick Melick's Commodore VIC-20 Tribute Page

A trusted online reference since 1996.

I've got some supplemental materials over on my blog as well: https://rick-melick.blogspot.com/.

     From the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, Commodore Business Machines sold well over 30 million units... the computers mentioned on this site! Since then I have been fortunate to have tracked down and/or contributed a number of interesting artifacts of that era. Hopefully they will make your research efforts a little easier. My goal is to get any original content up on the Internet Archive as well. Please accept my apologies in advance if I did not give you attribution. Just email me: rmelick650 at gmail dot com, and I will correct it. Hopefully these items are obscure and scarce enough that you won't mind them listed here as well. It is a compliment, really! :-)

The VIC-20 introduced millions of people to the fascinating world of personal computing. It holds this high honor primarily because it was the first color computer to break the $300 (U.S. Dollars) price barrier. As the VW Beetle was the people's car, the Commodore VIC-20 was a computer for the people. Indeed, it was, "The Friendly Computer."



     Multiple Personality Disorder isn't such a bad thing if you're an 8-bit computer. Appearing in 1985, the Commodore 128 was one of the last 8-bits and certainly the best of any make or model. It represented the end of the road for a line which began with the PET 2001-8 back in 1977. Some say it was what the C64 should have been. It didn't sell as well as the C64, but several millions did make their way into people's homes around the world. People got a lot for their money!


     Somewhere in a parallel universe everyone is running Digital Research operating systems instead of Microsoft. CP/M development started in 1975 by the computer science genius, Gary Kildall. There are several versions for different processors, starting form the Intel 8080 and other processors like Zilog Z80 and the Intel 8085; later for the Intel 8086, Zilog Z8000 and also for the Motorola 68000. The Commodore 128 ran CP/M in its top mode on its Z80 CPU, which is why CP/M is mentioned on this web site. Dr. Kildall forever changed computing by laying the foundation for modern PC operating systems, and he was a great teacher who shared his knowledge with others. He died on July 11, 1994.

Bringing up CP/M on a C128: The C128 basically started with the Z80 as the active CPU. The computer would check to see if there was a CP/M boot disk in the drive. If not, the Z80 would be disabled and 8502 took over.


     The Commodore 64 was an 8-bit home computer released by Commodore International in August, 1982, and during it's lifetime (between 1982 and 1994), sales totaled close to 17 million units, making it the best-selling single personal computer model of all time. Approximately 10,000 commercial software titles were developed for the Commodore 64 including development tools, office applications, and games. The C64 made an impressive debut at the 1982 Winter Consumer Electronics Show, as recalled by Production Engineer David A. Ziembicki: All we saw at our booth were Atari people with their mouths dropping open, saying, 'How can you do that for $595?'.

Getting to C64 mode on a C128: If the C= key was being held down on boot or the user typed, "GO64," the C128 would shift to C64 mode. With few exceptions it was 100% compatible. Compatibility was a difficult lesson that Commodore learned from the PET-VIC-C64-TED days, but finally got it right in the end with the C128.


     The PET was a member of, "The Trinity," ... the three computers widely considered to be the first mass-market home computers. All appeared at about the same time in the late-1970s and competed for market share: PET 2001; TRS-80 Model I; and the Apple ][. Each company had something going for it. Commodore had Europe. The TRS-80 had a dealer network of thousands of Radio Shack stores across America. Apple had Steve Jobs and the education market. Apple was the real threat and in everybody's crosshairs; just like today!

(keyboard image from absoluteastronomy.com)

ommodore Deathbed Vigil (video)

Rick Melick, San Francisco, California, USA. Designed with Notepad. Powered by GeoCities.