Vic-20 Revisted

Many years ago.

In the early 80‘s I was introduced to computers by my friend Fred. His dad had purchased a TRS-80 color computer. The first time I saw what you could do with a computer I was hooked. Up to that time I wanted to be a cartoonist, veterinarian or a stunt man. Computers were not on the Radar. I must have talked about computers a lot. That Christmas my parents got me and my sister a Vic-20. My sister was working on becoming a secretary at the time so she needed to practice typing. This way she could practice without wasting paper and ribbons. So for about a week all we had was the VIC-20. We had no way to save anything. I would type in the example program in the back of the user manual. This would take quite awhile since I did not know how to type. Then after typing in the program I would run it and then correct the syntax errors. This would go on for several iterations until I had a running program. I remember one time I had just typed the program in and my nephew who was around two somehow was able to reach over an old TV tray and the down and hit the power button. I was livid. For my birthday my parents got me a datasette. This made my life much easier. I could type a program in and save it to cassette. Then I could debug it without fear of losing all that time. Back then I think we had one cartridge a clone of space invaders. I taught myself how to program using the user manual and then magazines like Computes!’s Gazette. I would type in programs from the magazine and learn how they did things.

Here is an example of a game you could type in from the June 1984 Computes!’s Gazette.

Here is an example of the game play.

The VIC-20 did not have the most powerful graphics. It was a character based display. The VIC-20 did have a whole set of various characters like circles, angles, blocks, half blocks but the results looked clunky.

I can’t remember where I found a piece of software Commodore’s Programmable Character Set & Gamegraphics Editor. You could remap character sets and then combine the characters. When programming the game you would use the characters and then later you could remap the characters and have at the time custom graphics.

So now that I could have custom graphics I wrote a little animation to use it called Bunny Time. I then wrote a game with a mad guy in the rafters that drops things on a moon walking dancer below it was called “Deck Dancing”.  I wrote the dancing one after the Michael Jackson Pepsi accident.


I was able to get a Super Expander cartridge. This added additional commands to BASIC and an additional 3K, that’s right almost doubling the memory. The additional command included graphical commands like line and circle.


Commodore Artist Cover for Cartridge

I was able to pull off from cassette some graphic files I created using the Commodore Artist Cartridge. These were drawn with a joystick.

Digital drawing on the Vic-20