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Blog posts and video from Steven as he “COMBS” through the minutia to discover tech, retro-computing, physical computing, gadgets and sci-fi.

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Commodore Plus/4 Series

17 December 2020

retroCombs: 10 reasons THEVIC20 and THEC64 are a great retro-computing gifts

by Steven B. Combs, Ph.D.
tags: commodore - thec64 - thevic20 - thec64mini

Have a retro-computing fan in your life and don’t know what to get them? Or maybe you are looking for a little something for yourself, or maybe, just maybe, you need a last-minute suggestion for Santa? Here are 10 reasons RetroGames THEVIC20 (and THEC64) is the perfect holiday gift for all retro-computing fans.

My list also applies to THEC64 and THEC64 mini. I like modern devices that bring back that retro feeling. Check out my channel for more.

THEVIC20 is a modern recreation of my first computer, the Commodore VIC-20. I absolutely had purchase one but they are like a unicorn; hard to find. Imagine my surprise when THEVIC20 popped up on the Amazon store in the United States. I immediately purchased and then spent the next four weeks wondering if it would actually arrive at my door. It did! Watch the video below and then continue to read this post to learn even more about THEVIC20.

YouTube Video: 10 reasons THEVIC20 and THEC64 are great retro-computing gifts

In the video below, I share 10 reasons why THEVIC20 is the prefect gift for the retro-computing fan on your holiday shopping list.

Video Errata

  1. 10 Minute Amiga Retro Cast wanted to remind everyone that you can use a USB keyboard with THEC64 mini. Great reminder and I recommend the Logitech MK270. For $20 you get a wireless keyboard with mouse and long battery life. Perfect for a hobbyist keyboard.
  2. Chris Hawkins mentioned he’d like to have original ports on the back of these devices. I would agree. A couple of 8 pin connectors and an IEC would make these amazing devices; however, hold that thought Chris. The MEGA 65 will be here soon!
  3. I mention in the video it has been 30 years since I opend my first Commodore VIC-20 box. WRONG! It’s been 40! Wow, I’m old.

THEVIC20 THEC64 THEC64 mini A Hobbyist’s Guide to THEC64 Mini [Compatible USB Drives](https://amzn.to/2WkDTYP] HDMI Monitor A Hobbyist’s Guide to THEC64 Mini

Top 10 Reasons (sleigh bells audio between each reason)

  1. It’s fun to unbox (especially on Christmas morning) - You know I love a good open the box and THEVIC20 doesn’t disappoint. It feels and smells like a new 1980s computer. I was surprised at how similar THEVIC20 is to the design of the original.
  2. It feels like the 1980s - Look at that design, those keys, that joystick, those colors, that box. Gnarly, dude. It really did bring back some great memories and I’ve had a blast using THEVIC20 to play games and explore some past programming skills.
  3. Includes retro USB joystick - You can also use this joystick with a modern computer since it includes a USB connector. The inclusion of mechanical switches make this a joystick to be reckoned with. Mechanical switches are an upgrade from the joystick included with THEC64 mini. I do wish they would also make a version of this keyboard for my original VIC 20.
  4. Real Commodore keyboard - Listen to those keys. Unlike the THEC64 mini, THEVIC20 includes real Commodore keys. No more hunting and pecking trying to find the correct key when using an emulator, such as VICE and a modern keyboard.
  5. VIC-20 and C64 built-in - Two, two, two Commodores in one! Unlike the THEC64 mini, it’s “maxi” counterparts include both a VIC-20 and C64 emulator. It really is like getting two computers in one. With a simple selection of a menu item, you can switch between computers.

    MID VIDEO BREAK!!!

  6. Includes 64 games. It’s a hit and miss of good and bad; however, it’s still fun to give all of them a shot. The titles are below:

    VIC-20 (29 Titles): Abductor, Andes Attack, Arcadia, Bewitched, Blitzkrieg, Brainstorm, Catcha Snatcha, Connect 4, Encounter, Frantic, Frog Chase, Gridrunner, Harvester, Headbanger’s Heaven, Hell Gate, Laser Zone, Martians, Matrix, Mega Vault, Metagalactic, Llamas Battle at the Edge of Time, Psychedelia, Snake, Starquest, Subspace Striker, Tank Battle, Traxx, Wacky Waiters, Zor

    C64 (35 Titles): Alleykat, Bear Bovver, Boulder Dash, California Games, Chips Challenge, Cyberdyne Warrior, Cybernoid II, Destroyer, Firelord, Galencia Mini, Gribbly’s Day Out, Heartland, Impossible Mission, IO, Iridis Alpha, Jumpman, Mega Apocalypse, Nebulus, Netherworld, Paradroid, Pitstop II, Planet of Death, Robin of the Wood, Speedball 2, Spindizzy, Street Sports Baseball, Street Sports Basketball, Summer Games II, Super Cycle, Sword of Fargoal, Temple of Apshai Trilogy, The Arc of Yesod, Uridium, Winter Games, World Games, Zynaps

  7. Bring your own games - Use a USB drive and load your own games. The latest firmware (1.4.2) even supports .d64 (multiple images), .tap, and .crt files. Using some file naming conventions, you can even add a RAM expansion unit (REU) to the VIC 20 all the way up to 32K.
  8. Regular firmware updates - Firmware updates bring new features and occasionally a new collection of games. Check out my FAST LOAD video to learn how to download and perform a firmware upgrade.
  9. It’s hackable - There’s so much more you can do with the units than what is included in the paltry starter guide. A Hobbyist’s Guide to THEC64 Mini(#ad) by Holger Weßling is a great start.
  10. Affordable - Inexpensive when you consider the cost of both an original VIC-20 and C64 Even when I consider my shipping costs to get THEVIC20 across the pod, it was definitely a good value proposition.

BONUS: HDMI for crisp 720p HD visuals, at 60 Hz (NTSC) or 50 Hz (PAL) and works with modern displays such as HDMI monitors and televisions.

Final Thoughts

In addition to my 10 reason above, below are some final thoughts.

That’s it for now. Check back for additions (which will have time stamps) as I continue to play with these devices.

🎅 Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas and Happy Holidays.

🕹️ retroCombs, OUT!

Music in this episode:

SID Carol of the Bells

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