The Commodore Vic-20 – History, with Brian Bagnall, Michael Tomczyk, and Neil Harris
Welcome to episode 69 of the Floppy Days Podcast, where our computers may be old, but that’s why we love them.
In the vintage computer timeline, we are in 1980. The next computer I want to discuss that debuted that year is the Commodore Vic-20. The Vic-20 is significant because it was the first color computer to sell for less than $300, at a time when other home computers with color graphics were 2 to 4 times that amount. It also was the first home computer of any type to sell over 1 million units.
In this first episode about the Vic-20, I want to cover the history of this machine: why it was developed, some of the stories around its development, what happened after its release, and when it was canceled. To that end, I contacted some notable persons that were involved with the roll-out and support of the Vic-20, as well as a person who was involved in documenting Commodore’s history. The first person I contacted was Michael Tomczyk, who was an assistant to Jack Tramiel at Commodore and who led the so-called “Vic Commando Team”. Michael was intimately involved in the marketing and support of the Vic. In addition, a key member of his team, Neil Harris, agreed to help with this episode as well. And, finally, I talked with Brian Bagnall, who you might recognize as the author of “Commodore: A Company on the Edge”. This is an amazing line up of people who are very familiar with the Vic-20 and its history and I’m very lucky to have been able to get their assistance with telling its story.
Before we jump into that, I will cover a few new vintage computer items I’ve acquired, cover a bit of news, and cover a bit of feedback I’ve received.
Links Mentioned in the Show:
- NADSBox – http://www.club100.org/catalog.html
- “Now the Chips Are Down: The BBC Micro (Platform Studies)” Hardcover by Alison Gazzard – http://www.amazon.com/dp/0262034034/?tag=flodaypod-20
- Compute’s Gazette – https://archive.org/details/compute-gazette
- “33 challenging computer games for TRS-80/Apple/PET Paperback” by David Chance – https://www.amazon.com/challenging-computer-games-TRS-80-Apple/dp/0830612750
- “Atari Playground” by Fred D’Ignazio – https://www.amazon.com/Atari-playground-Fred-DIgnazio/dp/0810457709
- Fred D’Ignazio Interview on ANTIC – http://ataripodcast.libsyn.com/antic-interview-53-fred-dignazio-prolific-writer
- Juiced.GS – https://juiced.gs/
- Vintage Computer Party in Indy – http://atariage.com/forums/topic/260834-indianapolis-area-vintage-computer-club/?hl=%2Bindy#entry3668612
- Vintage is the New Old – http://www.vintageisthenewold.com
- Upcoming Shows
- VCF East – http://vcfed.org/wp/festivals/vintage-computer-festival-east/, March 31-April 2, 2017, InfoAge Science Center, Wall, NJ
- CoCoFest – April 22 & 23, 2017 – Lombard, IL – http://www.glensideccc.com/cocofest/index.shtml
- VCF Southeast 5.0 – April 29 & 30, 2017, Roswell, GA – http://vcfse.org/
- KFest – https://www.kansasfest.org/, Rockhurst University, Kansas City, MO, July 18th-23rd
- Commodore Vegas Expo v13 – July 29-30, 2017, California Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada – http://www.portcommodore.com/commvex
- VCFMW – September
- Tandy Assembly – October 6-8, 2017 – Chillocothe, OH – http://www.tandyassembly.com/https://www.facebook.com/events/671911082972172/
- Chicago TI International World’s Faire – November
- World of Commodore – first weekend in December – Toronto
- Andy Collins’ blog about the Interak-1 – http://www.randomorbit.co.uk/?cat=122
- “Commodore, A Company on the Edge” by Brian Bagnall – http://www.amazon.com/dp/0973864966/?tag=flodaypod-20
- “The home computer wars: An Insider’s Account of Commodore and Jack Tramiel” by Michael Tomczyk – http://www.amazon.com/dp/0942386752/?tag=flodaypod-20
- “The First Home Computer: 30 Years Later” by Michael Tomczyk – http://www.academia.edu/2242039/The_First_Home_Computer_30_Years_Later