Feeds

Twelve... classic 1980s 8-bit micros

6502 and all that

High performance access to file storage

Commodore 64

Reg Hardware retro numbers

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.

Commodore 64

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.

Commodore 64 UK advert
Release Date June 1984
Price £299
CPU 6510 @ 1MHz
Memory 64KB
Developers Commodore's Robert Russell, Albert Charpentier; MOS' Bob Yannes

Commodore Vic-20

Reg Hardware retro numbers

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.

Commodore Vic-20. Source: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

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.

Commodore Vic-20 advert Commodore Vic-20 advert

Click for full-size images

Release Date January 1981
Price £199
CPU 6502A @ 1MHz
Memory 5KB (3.5KB used)
Developers Commodore's Chuck Peddle, Bill Seiler, Albert Charpentier, John Feagans, Yashi Terakura; MOS' Bob Yannes

High performance access to file storage

Next page: Dragon 32

More from The Register

next story
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER
Too much pixel dust for your strained eyeballs to handle
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nvidia gamers hit trifecta with driver, optimizer, and mobile upgrades
Li'l Shield moves up to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, GameStream comes to notebooks
AMD unveils Godzilla's graphics card – 'the world's fastest, period'
The Radeon R9 295X2: Water-cooled, 5,632 stream processors, 11.5TFLOPS
Sony battery recall as VAIO goes out with a bang, not a whimper
The perils of having Panasonic as a partner
NORKS' own smartmobe pegged as Chinese landfill Android
Fake kit in the hermit kingdom? That's just Kim Jong-un-believable!
Gimme a high S5: Samsung Galaxy S5 puts substance over style
Biometrics and kid-friendly mode in back-to-basics blockbuster
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.