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At the time of launch, the Vic’s significant rivals in the UK were the ZX81 and the Atom. Adding even more cost was the fact that Commodore’s computer also required a dedicated datacassette unit or disc drive, whereas the British machines could use just about any cassette deck to access and save data. Despite the expense, the Vic was fairly successful in the UK, and, of course, laid the groundwork for the enormously popular Commodore 64.

In Japan, the VIC-20 was called the VIC-1001, and in Germany it was released as the VC-20 – the Volks Computer.

The Games

Unlike its rivals, the Vic was highly suitable for games. Not only did it have good quality sound and graphics, but Commodore also had the foresight to include a joystick port. Because of this a number of arcade conversions were released for the machine. The VIC was also the first machine to have a two-way flow of successful games games across the Atlantic. A small amount of US games were sold in the UK and the early releases by Jeff Minter sold healthily in North America.

People

Jeff Minter/Llamasoft

Jeff Minter released a number of top-notch VIC-20 games, including Metagalactic Llamas Battle at the Edge of Time, Matrix and Gridrunner.

Imagine: The Name of the Game

Liverpool’s Imagine Software probably had the highest profile of all the early 8-bit games publishers. Unfortunately for them, all the hype and tabloid articles weren’t enough to save them from bankrupcy when the videogames crash happened. The Imagine brand was later bought by Ocean Software who used it to market their line of arcade conversions.

Ultimate Play The Game

Ultimate released a VIC-20 conversion of their ZX Spectrum classic Jet Pac.

Romik Software

When you look back, it’s all too easy to focus on the big names software scene and forget about some of the smaller players. Romik were never going to win any awards for quality, but they supported a wide range of 8-bit computer formats and were a well-known during the early-to-mid 1980s.

Major events

1981
UK launch price was an eye-watering £400

Emulators

Mac OS X

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iOS

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OUYA/Android

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Features

8-bit processor
3.5K RAM, with various official and unofficial upgrades available
Colour and excellent sound facilities