US computer giant Commodore planned two possible successors to its popular 1981 machine, the Vic-20: an all-out games machine, the Max, and a higher-spec beast for more power-hungry users. Yes, most 1980s computer users played games, but the Max was a flop, but the Vic-40 - soon restyled the Commodore 64 - was anything but. It went on to be much more popular than its predecessor and possibly the most popular home computer of its era.
Like the Vic-20, the 64 was a hit with gamers, thanks to its powerful sound system and then novel sprite graphics technology. Yet it was strong enough to stand up against more 'serious' machines like the Apple II, IBM PC and Tandy TRS-80, against which Commodore pitched the machine too.
It led directly to the first portable colour computer, the Commodore SX64, and other follow-ups, but was finally discontinued in 1989. By then Commodore had the Amiga...
Check out our full history of the Commodore 64 here.
CPU 6510 @ 1MHz
Developers Commodore's Robert Russell, Albert Charpentier; MOS' Bob Yannes
Commodore has made its name with the business-oriented Pet, which by 1980 was still selling well in the company's home, the US. But company boss Jack Tramiel was worried that Japanese firms would break into the market with cheaper, more colourful machines. His solution: beat them to it.
The result was the Vic-20, based on chips from Commodore's semicondutor spin-off MOS and designs from the firm's in-house hardware team. Tramiel naturally launched it in Japan first, as the Vic-1001, in September 1980, before introducing it to a Stateside audience in January 1981. It shipped over here later in the year.
The Vic-20 proved hugely popular, with more than 2.5m of them shifted in its four-year lifetime. Here in the UK, despite its colour capability and full-size keyboard its struggled against the Sinclair ZX81, available for half the price.
CPU 6502A @ 1MHz
Memory 5KB (3.5KB used)
Developers Commodore's Chuck Peddle, Bill Seiler, Albert Charpentier, John Feagans, Yashi Terakura; MOS' Bob Yannes
Next page: Dragon 32
Left out again.
My poor Acorn Electron, not even the traditional after thought remark in the BBC roundup. Well damn you and your mode 7 we didn't need it anyway (much), and one channel of sound is enough for anyone, stereo is just showing off <sob!>. Penguin for Percy Penguin.
an excuse to link to the oric emulator I wrote from scratch (originally as something to do on my train journey to work :)
Atari 800 series ???
You missed out the one made by the makers or arcade games.
They knew how to make gaming hardware.
A sound chip that could do drum beats, and could be configured to high accuracy for pitch.
A graphics chip with a sophisticated display list (so you could scroll play fields using pointers), and superimpose 4 sprites (players) as vertical columns and missiles, represented in contiguous memory.
The players and missiles had h/w registers to indicate collissions between objects on the playfield and sprites and missiles.
That meant no programming of coordinates to detect collisions was required.
That meant the 1.79MHz 6502 could do more.
Play fort apocalypse on an atari and it was an experience. Play it on a commodore 64 and it was laggy.
Errors in the Jupiter Ace section....
"That appealed to an emerging group of programming nerds, but for the bigger gang of schoolkids keen to hack micros, it was a language they spoke."
"Even the Spectrum, which the two hard just completed."
Very nice look back at such a great time - there was so much happening back then it was a priviledge to have lived through it.