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Commodore VIC-20

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* ***                     Frequently Asked Questions                     *** *
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* ***             VIC-20 Classic Game & Home Computing System            *** *
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* ***                     Copyright 1997 Ward Shrake                     *** *
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* ***                   Release 2b (Ver 1.3)  July 1997                  *** *
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* ***                Send additions/corrections/comments/                *** *
* ***                    money/carts to: Ward Shrake                     *** *
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   DISCLAIMER:

   This entire document is a copyrighted work owned by Ward F. Shrake. All 
   rights not expressly granted herein are reserved by Ward F. Shrake. 
   
   You may distribute this document freely under the conditions that (A) it 
   is transmitted to all parties unmodified and (B) in its entirety. No
   renumeration may be accepted for this, by anyone other than the author.
   
   What I want in exchange for my generosity is your respectful treatment. I
   have worked very hard on reviving this "dead" computer system. I hope that
   you'll do all you can to insure I get the credit I have earned. (Please be
   fair and honest if you make any derivative works based on mine. Thanks!)



  --------------------------------------
    TABLE OF CONTENTS   (Section 1.1.)
  --------------------------------------


Section one:   INTRODUCTION.
	
	1.0.)   Title, copyright and disclaimer notices.
	1.1.)   Table of contents.
	1.2.)   Brief notes from the author.
	1.3.)   A history of the Vic20 home computing system.
		  - A pre-history leading up to the Vic20's birth.
		  - A timeline of the Vic20's life.
		  - End of an era or just a new beginning?
	1.4.)   Sales pitch time. Why would anyone like the Vic20 system?
		  - The "Classic era" was a great time, worth revisiting.
		  - One of the best systems to play "Classic era" games on.
		  - A perfect system to develop new classic-style games.
		  - Other good reasons retro-gamers may like the Vic20.
	1.5.)   How does Vic20 compare in popularity to other older systems?


Section two:   GENERAL SUPPORT INFORMATION FOR ALL VIC-20 USERS.
	
	2.1.)   What support currently exists for Vic20 users?
		  -  Online support;  many free electronic text documents.
		  -  Online support;  World Wide Web sites currently known.
		  -  Online support;  Commodore-related Usenet newsgroups.
		  -  Newsletters and/or other offline support.
	2.2.)   What Vic20 software is (or once was) "out there"?
		  -  What types of software were once common?
		  -  Where can I find Vic20 software these days?
	2.3.)   Did any magazines or books exist for the vic20? (Yup, lots!)


Section three: TECHNICAL SUBJECTS.
	
	3.1.)   What do I need to have, to use an emulated Vic20 system?
	3.2.)   What hardware would I need, for a "real" Vic20 system?
	3.3.)   Description of individual peices of Vic20 hardware.
	3.4.)   How do I hook up this "real" equipment, once I have it?
	3.5.)   How do I load and use software for my Vic20?
		  -  Using cartridge-based software.
		  -  Using cassette-tape based software.
		  -  Using diskette-based software.


Section four:  WINDING THINGS UP.
	
	4.1.)   What other information is available about Vic20 computers?
	4.2.)   What can you do to help your fellow Vic20 users?
	4.3.)   Acknowledgements and credits.
	


  --------------------------------------------------
    Section 1.2.  ---  Brief notes from the author
  --------------------------------------------------


   As is the case is with all FAQs, this document is a work in progress.
   Additions, corrections and comments are welcome. Please send them to:
   
   Snail mail:     
   Ward Shrake,  P.O. Box 4699,  Covina, CA  91723-4699,  USA

   As this is merely the 2nd edition of the "Vic20 Gamer's FAQ" ever
   released to the public, there could be lots of changes made later.
   For instance, most of this was written before Vic20 emulators had
   become available. As such most of it reflects information about
   the "real" Vic20 system even when the emulator's arrival changed
   some things, either a little or a lot. Maybe next time more will
   be revised, to more accurately reflect these new situations?
   
   It's probably fairly good right now, but things are seldom perfect.
   Your input is appreciated both now and as time goes on. Any FAQ 
   contributors will be listed in the acknowledgements. (Thank you!)

   While the author would love to have the time to "hold hands" with
   new fans of the system, he simply doesn't have that luxury. I hope
   that this FAQ answers most of your questions, at least enough to
   get you started. Effort on your part is always a requirement to any
   learning experience. If you have new questions, I suggest you post
   the questions to the Commodore-related Usenet Newsgroups (addresses
   found later in this FAQ.) I am sure someone will help you that way.
   If it becomes plain that certain questions are being asked often I
   will of course include that info in later editions of this FAQ.
   
   Writing and upgrading a FAQ takes a huge chunk of time and effort.
   Because my resources are limited, I thank you in advance now for
   your cooperation in this so that I can spend my time doing things 
   that will benefit many users instead of just a few. I don't say
   this to be rude or mean. It is simply the truth. My resources ARE
   few! And supporting new users SHOULD be a group effort, after all. 
   
   Having said that, I hope you enjoy the FAQ ... and your Vic20!   
				  
					  --- Ward F. Shrake


  --------------------------------------------------------------------
    Section 1.3.  ---  A history of the Vic20 computer and its times
  --------------------------------------------------------------------
  


		   PRE-HISTORY OF THE VIC20 COMPUTER.

   As is true with many of the now-commercially-extinct video games and
   computing systems, the Vic20 has a fairly interesting history that not
   many people know about.

   The Vic20 fits into computing history somewhere between the first
   arrival of kit-built home computers, which were never intended for mass
   public consumption and today's assumption that "everyone has to have a
   computer at home". As such the Vic20 represents an entire way of
   thinking and has a significant place in an entire era of computers.
   Some people might say the Vic20 came from the early or "good old days" 
   of computing history; just primitive enough and just advanced enough.

   But we are gamers. This is the part I like best; the Vic20 was also out
   in a very popular time period for retro-gamers. Home computers were
   quick to echo what the "real" arcade coin-op machines of the time were
   doing. For me, I've determined that most of my favorite arcade games
   came from a time period that ended in about 1983 or 1984 with the video
   game "crash". Guess what? Most of the Vic20's games are right from that
   era! So most of the Vic20 game software is of very high interest to me!

   I can remember the original arcade "Space Invaders"; "the game that
   started it all". I can still remember playing Space Invaders in a local
   pizza hangout, right next to two or three pinball machines. I was told
   that videogames were a fad and they'd soon die, but pinball would last 
   forever. Not quite! Pinball is still popular, sure. But I could tell by
   the rate I was pumping in quarters that videogames were here to STAY!

   The Vic20 echoed what the arcades were doing then, in the early 1980's
   and even in the seventies. To me the ultimate arcade games came with
   buttons labeled "left, right, thrust and fire"! Home computers after
   the Vic20 echoed what was current in the arcades at the time ... to me
   the decision was an easy one once I saw the Vic20's software library!

   This author thinks that era was an interesting one. With "retro-gaming"
   becoming increasingly popular, other people must also like visiting that
   era. Our reasons for the trip back may differ but the end result is the
   same; entertainment and amusement. What's wrong with that?

   So lets take a quick look back at the interesting times the Vic20 was
   born into....

   Let's start with Commodore Business Machines. That company had been in
   business before handheld electronic calculators were even invented and
   way before the public had any chance of owning a computer in their home.
   Computers took up whole rooms then, if not most of a building. They were
   much too expensive for any real home uses. At the beginning of computer
   history, only governments and huge businesses could own one. Or even had 
   any real use for them, for that matter!

   However, time went on. The feild of electronics was itself changing
   radically, advancing from the use of vacuum tubes to smaller, lighter,
   more reliable components called transistors. These in turn spawned
   microprocessors, which were miniaturized computers on a silicon "chip".
   This made many things that were not possible before both practical and
   within financial reach.

   Near the middle of the 1970's kit computers began to become available
   to a few users who knew how to assemble the units and who were willing
   to bear the hardships of programming them. These first kit computers are
   not very useful by today's standards but enthusiasts loved them anyway.
   These were the first publicly-accessible computers.

   Next came the advent of pre-packaged, ready-to-run computer systems
   towards the late 1970's and early 1980's. Many companies all tried
   valiantly to take over large parts of the suddenly huge market that was
   created. Some are still around but most have since breathed their last.

   For instance, Apple computers sold many of their very early computer 
   models (the "Apple II") in this era. It was credited with being the first
   'color' home computer. Other companies, including Commodore Business
   Machines, all had their models representing this still somewhat primitive 
   period. Commodore had the PET series, which preceeded the Vic20. Some
   books credit the PET with being the first all-in-one home computer; ie, a
   "CRT+keyboard+computer". (For more, see "Your own computer", ISBN 0-672-
   21860-7, Howard W. Sams & Co. Inc., Copyright 1977.)
   
   Home video gaming was also rapidly advancing and gaining wide levels
   of acceptance by the buying public. The PONG units hooked to virtually
   everyone's home TV sets started it, along with some very early models
   that represented incremental evolutionary steps from those PONG units.
   
   Home gaming, at about the time the Vic20 arrived, was on simple machines
   like the Atari 2600 VCS, the Intellivision and the ColecoVision. These
   were good times for gamers; store shelves were glutted with more gaming
   stuff than any kid could reasonably hope to buy!

   And at the same time, the coin-op arcade machines were maturing. More
   to the point, they had gone from being fun time-wasting machines found
   in bars and restaurants, to actually HAVING a dedicated arcade to be in!

   Now THAT, to me, was heaven! I'm sure many older retro-gamers feel the
   same wave of nostalgia hit when they think of their favorite games in
   their favorite arcades! It was a phenomenon ... no other way to put it.
   Arcades were springing up all over the country in response to this
   rich new industry. I can still remember where every hole-in-the-wall
   one of them was in my local area. Songs about video games were being
   played on the airwaves. Books were abundant. Gaming magazines started
   to appear all over ... the bookstores were filled with videogame items!

   And just to give you a better feel for the times, Pac Man had just been
   born. (Doesn't *that* memory make you feel old!) Machines had been made
   as early as 1972 but had taken awhile to spread nationwide and to
   become the huge industry we take for granted nowadays.

   Its hard to remember for most of us, but arcade games previous to
   this early time period may not have even had color screens! Or joysticks
   for input; many machines only had pinball-style buttons to press. The
   original shape of modern arcade games evolved from the much earlier and
   better established pinball industry. Even today the glass over an arcade
   video game screen is often called a "backglass" just as it was in pinball.
   
   Look at pictures of an original "Space Invaders" cabinet. They weren't
   yet sure how to make such a strange new contraption at that time! A 
   lot of copying went on in these years as the new arcade gaming industry 
   borrowed ideas heavily; from each other and from outside sources. 
    
   In short, the entire industry was just forming. Home games, arcade games
   and all the rest were entirely new at the time. Computers allowed games
   to be "translated" into home versions with enough clever programming.
   
   Gaming used to be "of gamers, by gamers, for gamers". The hippie types
   that once ran companies and created the first games, eventually made the
   market huge. Then others joined in, just to make a quick buck. The gaming
   market died, as gamers rejected this latest wave of junk; it wasn't for
   them, but for some imaginary bunch of people who would buy anything. I
   feel that a lot of the blame for the gaming crash, got misplaced. I feel 
   that a lot of the possible lessons to be learned, were missed by most.
    
   Gaming regrouped, and came back. The Nintendo NES brought life back into
   what most business types then thought was the cold corpse of a failed fad.
   They did it by combining respect for gamers, respect for the parents who
   would end up paying for all of this, and respect for sound business models.
   But this planning, this necessary business caution, killed some of the 
   spirit of early gaming, in my opinion. (No offense, but tourism games just 
   aren't my cup of tea. I generally prefer fast, intense games, myself.) Any
   game that will only appeal to a small part of the marketplace, simply will
   not show up in the marketplace, under such a business model. What a shame.
   
   Nintendo did bring gaming back, even if it was along a new path entirely.
   The hippie types that created the market in the first place, finally lost 
   out to the corporate types that took over. They understood the likes and
   dislikes of gamers, and were willing to take chances. But corporate types
   don't understand the gaming mindset, and won't take chances. Even if a
   good game results from such practices, it comes along only rarely. Then it 
   will be copied extensively, maybe for years, until the next original idea
   comes along. In the meantime, the games that result may be deep, may be 
   high quality in terms of being bug-free ... but do they have any soul?

   Marketing is "me too" and very unoriginal. Without the hippie types, the
   real artists who made gaming great in the first place, gaming is becoming
   stagnant again. I note with interest that Sony may have figured this out;
   they are introducing a user-programmable system, to troll for game ideas.
   They seem to be applying that very early concept; that any user who took
   the time to know his system well, could create the next really "big" game.
   Time will tell how it works out, but I applaud the move in that direction!
   The marketing types need outside ideas, to keep gaming fresh and fun.

   Gamers like me tread water, waiting for a mythical video game renaissance.
   But until then, I enjoyed the "pre-crash" era the most, so I'll still call 
   those early home and arcade games my all-time favorites! And collect them!


		      A TIMELINE OF THE VIC20'S EXISTENCE


   JUNE OF 1980:  The Vic20 was born. It first sold at a retail cost of 
   $300 or more. This was for the main "keyboard+cpu unit" only. All of
   its accessories were considered optional; each cost you something extra!
   Depending on where you shopped, price must have varied wildly for some
   time. I have seen and heard quotes of around $600 dollars for the 
   Vic20 at the start! (But remember that this was still considered cheap 
   compared to most other computer company's offerings of that era.)

   SUMMER OF 1982:  Commodore unveiled its next offering; the soon-to-be
   wildly popular Commodore 64. This offering was part of intense industry-
   wide competition at the time. Everyone was trying to dominate the very 
   profitable home computer market then. (Interesting times indeed! The
   Vic20 was barely two years old when its end was already in sight.)

   DECEMBER OF 1982:  the Vic20 was now available in Department stores
   nationwide at a little over $200 dollars for the "CPU & keyboard" unit.
   This was "more like it" as far as most consumers were concerned.
   
   JANUARY OF 1983:  "Commodore Business Machines Inc" had sold their one 
   millionth Vic20. Advertised as "the friendly computer," the Vic20 was 
   well on its way! And the market knew it, too. Quite a few third-party 
   software developers and book publishers made products that catered to 
   the large and growing Vic20 market of the early eighties. But were they 
   adopting too late? Had the wave already peaked when they jumped in?

   MEANWHILE:  The 64 was now out for about six months and it was rapidly
   "catching on". The Commodore community was blown away by it. The C64 
   represented a very large technological jump forward and we all knew it. 
   
   The end of the Vic20's commercial success was all but over. It was just
   a matter of time at this point and we all seemed to know it, even then.
   However, as our favorite company seemed to be winning the battle for
   the low end of the computer market we mostly cheered it on happily.
   Any sadness over the Vic20's death was more than equalled out by the
   low (and dropping) price announcements. It was even good for some users
   who wanted a Vic20 but could not afford one before the price cuts.
   
   One smart move on Commodore's part were their low prices. The C64
   was priced way out of reach for most of us at first but did drop to
   about the same price the Vic20 used to sell for ... why buy a Vic20
   when you could get a C64 for the same price? Smart move for Commodore
   but a death blow for the now-outdated Vic20. This is one reason I feel
   the Vic20 died such a resounding but undeserved death. To make a buck,
   Commodore was treating the whole Vic20 line like it was a mistake on
   the road to their putting out the Commodore 64. Or a stopgap at best.
   
   I bet that most new Commodore 64 users felt so much pride in their new
   machines that they belittled Vic20 users. Kids will do that, sometimes.
   But that may have helped bury the Vic20 in our long-term memory, too.
   Who wants to remember something that once got you ridiculed, right?

   The C64 represented a brand new era in computing. It made most other
   companies' offerings look sick in comparison, especially at its much
   lower price. Commodore sales flourished and many rival companies died
   off or were forced into huge price cuts. Depending on whose estimates
   you read, the Commodore 64 computer eventually sold between 10 and 12
   million units. The industry was in a free-for-all, a shake-out period,
   and I suppose Commodore was as desperate as any other manufacturer ...
   so I won't hold it against them how they dropped the Vic20 so harshly!

   As time went on the Vic20 got less and less magazine coverage while
   the C64 gained more and more. Ditto for coverage on store shelves. And
   we all had the distraction of all those other pre-crash systems to be
   buying games for, while the feeding frenzy was going on in the stores.
   
   EARLY 1984:  older magazine ads show us that the Vic20 was being closed
   out via mail order, often at $69.95 or less. (Remember all those mail
   order ads from "Protecto" that were in the magazines then?) Many formerly 
   rare or prized Vic20-only accessories were also closed out, as nearly 
   the entire market shifted its allegiance. 
   
   MID-1984:  The last Vic20 software review I can find in my collection 
   of old magazines is around mid-1984. "Compute!" printed their last one 
   then and if I recall correctly, they were one of the last holdouts.
   It was probaby being too kind to say the Vic20 was still popular then.
   The Vic20 had been slowly replaced in our minds, month by month. As
   soon as the mass-market had fully embraced the Commodore 64, the Vic20 
   was all but forgotten by most folks. But some of us still remember it
   and miss those interesting "pre-crash" times the Vic20 was born into! 


		     LIFE AFTER DEATH FOR THE VIC20?
						       

   The Vic20 died for more than one reason; technical obsolescence does
   not explain everything. The Atari 2600 was far less capable from a
   hardware standpoint but remained popular among some groups well into
   the mid-1990's. Other machines are still in active use by retro-gamers
   and hardcore system fans, that are far less powerful than the Vic20 is. 
   
   Just because something with more impressive specs comes along does not
   mean a particular peice of hardware is useless. This is true in many 
   feilds, not just videogaming. In the upper reaches of the audio hardware
   hobby, for instance, some people are paying thousands of dollars for
   audio equipment that still uses vacuum tubes ... and what's more they
   say they are right that it "sounds better" than modern equipment does!

   We retrogamers are in a similar position. We feel that just because a
   new system comes out and is heavily hyped by its manufacturers, that
   is a poor reason to do without an earlier system that we truly like.

   The industry wants you to throw out everything you had before and to
   start over fresh every few years. This keeps their profits high but
   do YOU gain anything from it? (Aside from having your pick of everyone
   else's ex-favorite games once they arrive at garage sales and thrifts!)

   But seriously, do you as a retro-gamer GAIN anything by this switching?
   
   I personally have taken a hard look at most all the games that ever came 
   out in the arcades, through lists such as the "Killer List of Video Games"
   and my old magazine collections. I saw for myself that I lost interest in 
   the "modern" style of games a long time ago. So have many others.
   
   For me, I realize that the games I get the most pleasure from were made 
   prior to 1984. And if you realize what you like and what you don't like,
   why switch if you're happy with what you have? The industry may not like
   that, as they can't profit from it. But are you on YOUR side or theirs?

   I did a lot of work to find out what era or type of games I liked best. I
   found out that while I tend to like one or two new games each year in the
   arcades, that the only time I liked more than that amount of new games was 
   from 1979 to 1984. The best arcade years, IMHO, were from 1980 to 1983.
   
   I went looking for all the old games I had once loved in the arcades. I 
   did research on each of them. I looked at all the classic gaming systems.
   I looked at remakes of classic games on very modern systems. I finally
   found a system that echoed at home what the arcades had been doing then.
   
   That's why I'm into the Vic20 today. It plays all my favorite games and
   it does it as well or better than most other systems, before or since! 
   
   In some cases, ports of certain games are not really even recognizable
   on other less powerful classic gaming systems. If you knew what the
   original arcade game was like, the early home conversions were usually
   truly disappointing. The new versions may as well be another game. 
   
   At the same time, most newer systems had so much more power to spare 
   that those who rewrote the original arcade games could not resist the 
   temptation to "upgrade" these older arcade games. In my opinion, they 
   usually screwed them up instead of improving them. I wanted the originals!
   
   I will, however, say a hearty "bravo!" to companies that have decided to
   create game emulators which run original arcade game code. However, while
   I like the idea quite a bit, it usually takes thousands of dollars worth
   of computing equipment to allow that to be done. (Or hundreds at least; I
   see the Playstation console is priced around $200 now. But for myself I
   will wait awhile; original arcade board sets (the brains of games) sell
   for maybe $40 apeice nowadays and I can/have bought the "real thing" in
   the past, thanks to other hobbyists on the Internet. But I digress....)

   In some cases the Vic20 did a better job than the arcade did or at
   least as good a job. (Not all technical advances are bad!) But in other
   cases the games just have the right mindset, the right combination of
   look, feel and gameplay that makes me like them the most.
   
   Games changed radically, after the "crash". Both in the arcade and at
   home. The entire industry went through its "crash" period around late 
   1983 or early 1984. This also helped contribute to the Vic20's demise
   as a large chunk of the Vic20 market was heavy into video games then.

   The consumer market at the time, guys like me, loved every bit of the
   crash at the time. It meant we could finally afford games we'd had
   our eyes on, seemingly forever! We were in hardware and software over-
   load. There was so much to choose from, and all at rock-bottom prices!
   
   I (and many other retro-gamers I'm sure) remember constantly going to 
   toy stores and department stores to check out all the cool stuff that
   everyone had for sale ... oh, the memories that brings back! All the
   software sold in plastic baggies; remember those? The quick turnover,
   the rapid growth of the industry. Man, were those cool gaming years!

   Die-hard Vic20 users snapped up many items they could never afford
   before ... but most of them also bought a C64 or were planning to. You
   see, Commodore, in a fluke of still unexplained good sense, had made
   sure that all the major Vic20 peripherals still worked on their newer
   C64 ... including tape and disk drives! A Vic20 user only had to buy the 
   main "CPU & keyboard" to switch over! This very rapidly accelerated the
   C64's acceptance among many former Vic20 users. (Note however that it 
   also makes it easy to switch back to a Vic20 system from a C64 system!)

   Along with everything else, Commodore's "friendly computer" was then a
   washed-up "has been," forgotten and neglected, rotting on store shelves.
   The newer machines like the Commodore 64 had already replaced it. Vic
   software was closed-out everywhere you went, or so it seemed. (Some of
   us couldn't wait for it to leave the shelves fast enough then, although 
   we sure wish we had stocked up on it now!)
   
   Ah, those crazy "crash" days ... man, were they ever fun to live in! I
   bet some of us can trace our retro-gaming roots right to those moments!

   But the Vic20 has "died". And many years later, so has the Commodore 64.
   Indeed even the Commodore company itself has croaked. RIP, Commodore.

   Sad? Perhaps. Especially if you consider that all this happened right
   when the Vic20 software market was maturing. In other words, many
   commercial (and hobbyist) programmers had plenty of time and experience
   with the Vic20 by then and their software was becoming very good indeed
   towards the end, before the bottom fell out of their market....

   But don't be too sad. From a modern collector's point of view all this
   means is that all that righteous old stuff is still out there just
   waiting for us to dig it up and put it back into use! I don't see this
   as an end, really, but as a second chance to relive those heady video
   gaming "crash" days I loved so much. Its all out there; good hunting!


		 
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Section 1.4.  ---   Sales pitch time. Why should anyone like the Vic20?
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------                



   Although you'd be hard pressed to find many people who are still actively
   involved with the Vic20 home computing system -- besides a few collectors
   gamers and historians here and there, of course -- this is also true of
   nearly all the "classic" or "pre-crash" era game machines. I feel more
   people would like and use the Vic20 again, if only they knew more about
   it. So, here are a few good reasons for wanting to use a Vic20... feel
   free to sprinkle these bits of wisdom on gamers in need of conversion! 


      THE "CLASSIC ERA" WAS A GREAT TIME IN HISTORY, WORTH REVISITING.


   Retro-gaming is becoming widespread and popular. Lots of people are
   involved in it now. Big companies are spending lots of money, re-pushing
   their old games. Why? There must be some reason for all the excitement,
   right? Hype only goes so far without substance to back it up, right?

   One reason is that gamers are rediscovering that there were distinct
   "eras" of games. Arcade games set the pace. Home games followed it.
   When the arcades went through any major changes in mindset, the home
   systems echoed what was going on. It still goes on today. Always has.

   In other words, to play certain types of games (games from a certain era)
   you need to find the hardware that supports that era. This is true for
   all gaming systems; from the first primitive cartridge-based gaming
   machines to the current crop of 32 and 64 bit home gaming consoles or
   PC-based games.

   Certain machines only play certain types of games and I don't think many
   people consciously realize that. You have to find out what types of games
   you like best. Then decide what system best represents that era or that
   mindset. And only then, go out and buy that system. Certain machines play
   their type of games just fine. But if that's not what you want, why bother?

   I happen to really like the arcade-gaming era the Vic20 supported. IMHO,
   the best games in the arcades came out from about 1978 to 1983. Guess
   what? That's exactly the era the Vic20 best supports! Most arcade games
   then took a year or two to be ported over to a home system(s). So the
   Vic20 perfectly fits my ideal, best-loved arcade era. What's more, the
   Vic20 was sophisticated enough to handle conversions of those early
   arcade games, with no problem. The technology wasn't as important then
   as creative imagintion was, coupled with great programming talents.

   Games then and games now use entirely different sets of assumptions.
   There are entirely different ways of thinking that goes along with both
   old and new games. Partly caused by hardware but also caused by time and
   social forces.

   Games then were 90% gameplay, 10% graphics. Some people would argue that
   modern games have 90% graphics and sound but only 10% in gameplay. This
   may not be 100% true, but a lot of gamers do feel there was a better
   "feel" to the older games. I would say they involved the user at a higher
   level. In other words, games then were based on you becoming a part of
   the machine, of interacting quickly in a process that required you to
   think in micro-second intervals. To become one with the machine, if only
   you were good enough.

   Look at it this way. Classic games gave you minimal input; very simple
   graphics and sounds. You were required to analyze that input quickly,
   react correctly based on it and then get feedback from the machine on
   how you did. That loop repeated, over and over. You HAD to become an
   intimate part of the process or your games were over very quickly! 
   Their assumption is that to get higher scores, you and the machine had 
   to merge together well. In other words the experience was immersive.

   Modern games require many decisions but not in the same way. Quantity
   over quality in a sense. There are much larger gaps of idle time where
   you are not doing anything for fractions of a second. I would say you and
   the machine were almost taking turns. So you are more distracted, less
   one with the machine.

   I think that is one reason classic era players are not fond of newer
   machines; the pace and style of interaction is so totally different. They
   can't adapt and don't want to. I am tempted to compare playing a
   classic era machine to flying a jet plane in combat. I am tempted to also 
   compare most modern games to driving a truck, or even a freight train!

   One other thought along these lines; some games may more naturally use
   the "right side of our brains". Scientists say that our brains are split
   into two halves; the left handles logical step-by-step sequences better
   and the right handles non-verbal, spatial relations and such. Herein
   lies some serious food for thought ... what if certain games tap into
   that right brained mode and others rely more on entertaining the left
   hemisphere of the brain? This could perhaps explain why Tetris was (A)
   so addictive to (B) so many people, while (C) seeming to our logical
   left brains to be so simple that it could not possibly be any fun. Your
   mileage may vary, but I suspect that earlier games tapped into that same
   spatial, non-verbal mode, while more modern games nearly ignore all that.

   Nowadays most games fall into one of a few preset "formulas" and people
   are getting bored with it. The industry taught us to continually crave
   the newest, the latest stuff out. But then they stagnated and ran out of
   ideas! Some of us are going back to our roots, because in a way, its so
   old that its new again. Younger gamers get a chance to see the so-called
   classics and older gamers get to relive a very cool time in history. And
   once you've experienced that right-brained "one with the machine" rush,
   look out! You may never again see games in the same way, "old" or new.


      VIC20 IS ONE OF THE BEST SYSTEMS TO PLAY "CLASSIC ERA" GAMES ON.  


   But since most of its former users simply switched over to the
   Commodore 64 almost overnight instead of some more gradual switch, I
   think most of its former users have forgotten just how good the system
   really was. Commodore themselves heavily pushed the switch to the C64. 
   They did their best to make it easy for us to decide. Plus much time 
   has passed. So most ex-users simply forgot all about the Vic20!

   Back then we all bought into the "new hardware is good, old hardware is
   bad" hype. Now, with the entire industry saying retro-gaming is good and
   perhaps we all abandoned things too quickly, what better time is there 
   to re-evaluate? Learn from the past, so we can do better in the future.

   In other words, isn't it somewhat ridiculous, or even hypocritical to
   accept one "has been" retro-gaming system but to then to reject another
   one? Why? Solely because it is old? Be consistent. Good is good, period.

   Most of us who still remember the Vic20 days recall that later machines
   (like the C64) made the Vic20 look sick by comparison. True, later
   computers were more powerful. But that is true with every single retro-
   gaming platform out there! The argument therefore becomes invalid in a
   retro-gaming context. (Furthermore, the Vic20 was only two years younger
   than the Commodore 64 ... and in many ways is remarkably similar!)

   How easily we have also forgotten that the Vic20 was technically superior
   to most of the other GAMING PLATFORMS it was then competing with! Not
   other computers, mind you, but the cartridge-based console systems.

   This is an important point. Most of the competition (gaming consoles like
   the Atari 2600, Intellivision and the like) had less RAM memory, fewer
   built-in graphic features and no keyboard or external program storage
   available. Please recall that each of these systems once promised to
   "grow up" to be what the Vic20 always was!

   The Vic20 is technically FAR superior to these early cartridge-based
   systems! What's more, that is not my opinion alone, but the opinion of
   the entire industry in the classic era! Why settle for a cartridge-only
   retro-gaming system when you can have a user-programable, expandable,
   technically superior retrogaming system?


	VIC20 IS A PERFECT SYSTEM TO DEVELOP NEW "CLASSIC" GAMES ON.


   Some users want to be able to create new games for these old systems. 
   For most other early "classic era" game machines, especially consoles, 
   it is nearly impossible to program them yourself. With the Vic20 its easy.

   In most cases, hand-built hardware and software development systems are
   needed to do it. Take the still-popular Atari 2600 console system for
   example. It took 15 years or so to get to this point, where now that the
   hardware is built and usable by the masses, who can really program it?
   Only very, very good machine language programmers. So I would argue that
   its still not *really* user-programmable, in a hobbyists sense.

   Don't get me wrong; I do like the Atari 2600 also. I just think it has
   obvious, serious limitations. In the hands of a few demi-god programmers
   it was really impressive! (I'm thinking of the Starpath conversion of the
   game "Frogger", for example.) But as this is the exception not the rule,
   I'm concentrating on the greater bulk of "normal" games which were more
   representative of each system on the whole. (No offense to any 2600 fans!)

   But lets face it; everything you need to program a Vic20 is right there,
   built-in. Or is easily added by way of plugging in a cartridge. And it
   always was there. We just forgot about the system! You can even create
   your programs on say a C64 or C128 machine, then port them on down. 
   
   An ideal retro-gaming system, yes? And its virgin! Think of all the cool
   new ideas and techniques that could be applied ... and the cool results!
   Imagine using all 32K of expansion memory, instead of merely 8K or 16K?
   That alone would push it FAR beyond anything done in the good old days!

   I think programmers and develops will soon discover that most of the
   Vic20's apparent limitations, aren't. The reason more software isn't as
   good as the best software is more the fault of lousy early development
   tools. As the tools got better and programmers got more experienced, I
   think its easy to see the Vic20 isn't anywhere near as limited as most
   of us first assumed it was. Remember; its basically a C64 minus 2 years!
   Using all those sophisticated C64 development tools, is the sky a limit?


	 OTHER GOOD REASONS RETRO-GAMERS MIGHT LIKE THE VIC20 SYSTEM.


   Keep in mind that most of the arguments against owning a Vic20 "in the 
   good old days" came down to too much expense or too many parts. Neither 
   of these are true today. And the user confusion factor is decreasing 
   too, with things like this FAQ and help from CBM Internet Newsgroups.

   Expansion RAM is dirt cheap; exactly like any other cartridges found at
   yard sales or thrift stores. Plus, dedicated Vic20 users have designed
   their own retrofit 32k RAM systems complete with write-protection
   features and many other cool things. 
   
   And now that we have an excellent (and improving!) Vic20 emulator, those 
   RAM expansion questions and worries go away fast! This is a big deal.
   
   Datasettes are a dime a dozen now, but they were expensive then. Disk
   drives aren't too far behind them now. These also worked on the C64 and
   the C128, so newsgroups and places that catered to later Commodore models
   should still have all these peripherals available for you to buy used.

   And that's just counting the common accessories: the Vic20 also had a
   voice add-on, lightpens and many other accessories that make other
   classic games systems collectible. The Vic20 had it all at one time.
   
   Collectors will quickly find that there are many things to search for and
   own. Some people enjoy the collecting aspect of things (the thrill of the
   hunt) enough to justify ownership right there. Give it some thought...

   But there are other reasons too. Persons who are interested in game
   history will find the machine overflows with it! Some of today's top game
   programmers learned their trade by programming for the Vic20. Jeff Minter
   of "Tempest 2000" and "Defender 2000" fame, to mention just one example,
   did very well on the Vic20. Magazines of the times held interviews with
   such persons. I find that sense of history fascinating! Don't you?

   Dabblers in retro programming may be interested to learn that the Vic20
   used the same processor (65xx series) as many contemporary consoles. 
   Sharing compatible disk drives with Commodore's later models means that
   one can do some work on the more powerful machines and simply port it
   down to the Vic20 later. In other words, "cross assembly" systems exist!

   Many memory and storage limitations (then) are no problem now. Can you
   imagine a truly classic era computer game, programmed to use up all the
   space on a disk? Or a "huge" cartridge multi-loader game? I shudder to
   think of all the cool Vic20 games and stuff that would fit on one CD-ROM!

   And just in case anyone thinks I am being too heavily biased in talking
   up the Vic20 as being a superior system for retro-gaming ... if you read
   through magazine ads of the time you'll see that even the manufacturers 
   of classic games considered the Vic20 superior to the console machines of
   the time! If it was better then, it is surely better now!

   In cases where classic games came out on computer and game console alike
   the Vic20 version was sometimes FAR superior! In fact I myself got back
   into this system when I saw a few well-known console games, converted,
   that just blew me away! Imagic, for instance, did a wonderful job of
   programming the Vic20 versions of Atlantis, DragonFire and Demon Attack.
   You just have to see those games once on a real Vic20 to see what I mean.

   The Vic20 has another big plus compared to other classic gaming systems;
   it is currently neglected among collectors. It is a "cheap" and easy
   system to collect for ...  at least for now! For those of you tired of
   how the more "mature" retro-gaming systems have turned out, come have 
   some fun over here! Over 160 game cartridges (and counting) were once 
   made for the Vic20. Rarity and game play lists do exist for those games. 

   And that's just game cartridges; there are many more games when one 
   considers disks and cassette tapes. God only knows how many tape games 
   there were ever "out there"! That list has barely begun....

   There are still plenty of "unknown" Vic20 games to be found, too. I think
   that alone is very exciting! Lots of rare games no one has ever heard of
   are re-surfacing often. In the other retro-gaming or "cart collecting"
   interest areas, everyone already has a set list of all the games known to
   exist and no new ones have been found and/or confirmed in ages. Game 
   prices are sky high, when they can be found at all. What fun is that?

   The few games that are surfacing in those other groups are usually so
   rare that only a handful of people will ever get to see them. Or worse,
   the games were never fully finished or are probably about as playable 
   as the stereotypical magazine type-in game. That is also very frustrating!

   I like to think of the Vic20 scene, right now, as being where the Atari
   2600 and other systems were a few years ago. The Vic20 scene is just now 
   getting organized. Lots of exciting things are happening. It is new and
   unexplored territory. A "New World" of gaming, in a sense. Bigtime FUN!
   
   If you like retro-gaming the Vic20 truly has a lot to offer! Try it!


  ----------------------------------------------
    Section 1.5. ---  Current Vic20 popularity
  ----------------------------------------------


	Question:  
	How popular is the Vic20 now, compared to other game systems?

	Answer:    
	That's hard to say. Right now the Vic20 has a dedicated following 
	among a few people, here and there. But there has been no large
	push to get these people organized and into some sort of unit,
	aside from the various World Wide Web sites around the globe now.
	The system's fans like it a lot. The rest have forgotten it exists.
	(This may change more quickly now that emulated systems are here.)
	   
	Sad to say, but right now the Vic20 game system rates as an after-
	thought with most game cartridge collectors. However, an informal
	poll once taken on Usenet suggested that the average collector did
	not "have a clue" as to how many games were ever produced for the
	system. Nor did they know much else about the system. This author
	is taking that to mean more people would be interested, if only
	they knew more about the system. (Hence the need for a FAQ, right?)

	But if you want to know how the established game systems rank
	against *each other* for right now, that I can tell you easily
	enough. I once did a statistical study for my own amusement
	which showed the following... (but keep in mind that this is
	only an idea of how *CARTRIDGE COLLECTORS* rated these systems!)


	Apparent rank order of systems, by popularity among collectors:
      - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
	(a)  Atari 2600         Most cart collector's first-choice system;
				87% of those polled collected games for it.
				That's nearly nine-out-of-every-ten people!
	(b)  Atari 7800         This system is fully compatible with the 2600
				which may account for it begin in second
				place. 66% of those polled collected for it.
	(c)  ColecoVision       Just under the Atari 7800 in popularity at 
				62% ... but a drop-off of 25% from the 2600!
	(d)  Intellivision      Nearly tied with the ColecoVision at 56%. 
	(e)  Atari 5200         Just under the Intellivision at 54%.
	(f)  Odyssey 2          Taking another 20% jump downward at 34%.
	(g)  Vectrex            Staying consistent at 32% of those polled.
	(h)  Fairchild          Taking another large jump down; now at 18%.
	(i)  Bally Astrocade    Tied with the Fairchild Channel F at 18%.
	(j)  Emerson 2001       And dropping down to 11% to hold last place.
	(k)  Any other systems? Hard to tell ... usually not listed.


	Where the Vic20 will eventually fit into this list is anybody's
	guess. (Info based on a study of two documents: (a) the Digital
	Press' "Classic Videogame Collectors Guide" 3rd edition and (b)
	a large list of videogame collectors compiled by Doug M.) Results
	should be accurate enough to show a picture of classic gaming at
	the time this study was originally done. (Around 1995 or 1996.)



    ======================================================================
    |                                                                    |
    |       SECTION TWO:    GENERAL INFORMATION FOR ALL VIC20 USERS      |
    |                                                                    |
    ======================================================================        



	This section should be pretty simple to figure out. Basically
	I just listed lots of other places where you can find more
	information about the Vic20, classic retro-gaming in general
	or whatever. It would be pointless and inane for me to try to
	duplicate all their information in this one document, so I'm
	telling you where it is located and telling you to go for it!


  --------------------------------------------------------------------
    Section 2.1. ---  What support currently exists for Vic20 users?
  --------------------------------------------------------------------



     World Wide Web sites
	  Search engines may come up with more active sites than those I will 
	  list here. That's good. I'm just mentioning a few to start you off.
	  See www.yahoo.com or some similar site, to do additional searching.

	- Jim Brain's Commodore page.
	  http://www.jbrain.com/vicug/about.phtml
	  This is a HUGE site, covering just about every possible computer
	  that Commodore ever made. Including, of course, the little Vic20.
	  Be prepared to be overloaded with choices ... which is a good
	  thing, says I. If you're looking for Commodore-related info, and
	  it can't be found here, I'd be very surprised. Check out his list
	  of links, too. All in all, I'd say Jim's site takes the cake. (Jim 
	  used to run a mail server service, but this superceded it. See the
	  section after web sites for more info on how this evolved.)

	- Rick Melick's "Vic20 Tribute Page"
	  http://php.ucs.indiana.edu/~rmelick/vic1.html
	  It contains (besides Jim's page) the largest collection of Vic20 
	  related stuff. A must see. I especially like Rick's interviews with 
	  some of the people who originally made the Vic20, or who programmed
	  videogames for it, back in the day. Way cool; a top notch site!
	  
	- "The ROM image archive"
	  http://www.funet.fi/pub/cbm/vic20/index.html
	  This is where all the games are. This site contains the ROM images
	  that we worked so hard to save. You'll have to have an emulator to
	  run the images (or be pretty technically-inclined with a real Vic),
	  but once you download the emulator and ROM images, you can play 
	  virtually any game ever made for the Vic20 on tape or cartridge.
	  (The site can also be reached via FTP access, if you don't have any
	  access to the World Wide Web.)
	
	- "Vic20 unofficial home page"
	  http://www.mds.mdh.se/~dal95acn/vic20.html
	  This site has technical information on it, along with links to some
	  people currently involved with programming the Vic20. This is sort
	  of a techie / demo coder's page; more advanced than for beginners.

	- Jerry Greiner's site.  
	  www.Atari2600.com
	  JerryG is one of the largest and best known "dealers" in classic 
	  videogames. Besides the stuff on his site, at times he has many of 
	  the actual classic game carts themselves to sell. His page is one
	  of the nicest looking, from a graphical standpoint, too.
	
	- Bill Frandsen's site.
	  http://rrnet.com/~bfrandse/classic.html
	  Bill has been involved with the Archiving Project since back when I
	  first began the Vic cart list, around 1995. His time may be limited
	  now for outside projects, but that shouldn't impact his web site
	  too much. He may have real Vic20 carts for sale, from time to time.
	

     Jim Brain's (now defunct) mailserver
	Jim Brain used to run a mailserver, to send out text files via email.
	I am taking the liberty of quoting a portion of Jim Brain's own text
	here ... I'll let him explain how his old mailserver has evolved.
	
	"So, the time has come to move the file retrieval functionality of 
	MAILSERV off to a more capable program.  Presently, the address 
	ftpmail@mail.jbrain.com points to a service that allows users to 
	retrieve files from any FTP site, including BII's site.  For the most 
	part, the commands are the same, although we suggest doing a 'help' 
	on the new service to see what has changed. For more information 
	about the FTPMAIL service, email ftpmail-info@mail.jbrain.com 
	To retrieve files from Jim Brain's site, simply open a connection 
	to: ftp.jbrain.com  The advantages are multiple. For one, the FTPMAIL
	service is more robust than the earlier system, and the distinct 
	email address ensures that we won't be bothered by extraneous email 
	that didn't set the subject line perfectly or contains some other 
	subtle bug. So, please take advantage of the new service, but please 
	use it wisely."


     USENET newsgroup:  comp.sys.cbm
	- This newsgroup was made to discuss the Commodore brand of home
	  computers. This includes the Vic20 although most of the discussion
	  is on the Commodore 64, the Vic20's "bigger brother" in the line.
	- Many items are bought, traded and sold here on a regular basis.
	  All of these are related to the Commodore home computing line but
	  if you are looking for videogame cartridges try posting both here 
	  and in the newsgroup "rec.games.video.classic" for best results.
	  (Non-cartridge items will most likely be located here, not there.)
	- Various FAQ's exist on this newsgroup and are posted regularly.
	  These FAQ's cover just about everything you would want to know
	  about the Commodore brand of computers EXCEPT about the Vic20.
	  (Hence the need for this FAQ dedicated solely to the Vic20 system.


     USENET newsgroup:  rec.games.video.classic
	- A newsgroup founded to discuss home video gaming on classic systems.
	  Most of the discussion is about the Atari 2600, as that system is
	  the most widely popular among the retro-gaming community. However,
	  other systems are welcome and the newsgroup caters (in differing
	  amounts, based on system popularity) in things related to nearly
	  any system that preceeded the Nintendo NES home console system. 
	- Many items are bought, sold and traded in this newsgroup. The focus
	  of most trading is to find videogame cartridges. If you are looking 
	  for something else you may be better off asking in "comp.sys.cbm".
	- Various FAQs and information about the subject of retro-gaming on 
	  a wide variety of home game consoles of the "classic era". These
	  generally include the Atari 2600, 5200 and 7800, the Intellivision,
	  ColecoVision, Vectrex, Bally Astrocade, Fairchild Channel F, Vic20,
	  Microvision, Odyssey2, RCA studio II, Aquarius and so on. 
     

     USENET newsgroup:  rec.games.video.arcade.collecting
	- Lots of folks who really know about the arcade originals; be wise
	  however and don't discuss anything but that! The newsgroup for
	  these folks is not meant to discuss *home* versions of arcade 
	  games. Some of these guys get really PO'd over anything off-topic.
	- KLOV or "Killer List Of Videogames" ... lists about 950 arcade
	  coin-operated videogames, with a small entry to describe each one.
	  Very interesting if you are really into gaming or its history.
	- Various other FAQs that may be of interest to retro-gamers, but
	  which are primarily intended to serve the needs of the newsgroup.
     

     USENET newsgroups:  "other"
	- rec.games.video caters to a wider group of gamers; they are not
	  specifically a "classics" only group. See their FAQ for more info.
	- newsgroups exist just to discuss various emulated systems. Try a
	  search engine to find them. They and comp.sys.cbm are generally
	  your best bets on getting questions about emulators answered.
	- Other newsgroups cater to specific home computing systems. Search
	  on newsgroup titles if you wish to find out more about groups for 
	  the Apple II system, the Atari 8-bit series, the Vectrex or others.
	  Each of these newsgroups have their own series of FAQs also. Some
	  "mailing lists" also exist to serve other home game systems; see if
	  you can't find a pointer to one of them through the sources above.


     PAPER NEWSLETTER:  "Denial, The independent Journal of the Vic20"
	  Currently only two issues have been released. The newsletter does 
	  look very promising, and I truly hope the author keeps putting it
	  out. I enjoy it a lot. It's always neat to see a personal take on
	  things, which this has. Give the author your support and who knows
	  where it may lead? Author is Jeff Daniels. His snail mail address
	  is:  Jeff's Ink Press & Deli, PO Box 477493, Chicago, IL 60647, USA


      PAPER NEWSLETTER:  "The 2600 Connection"
	  OK, OK, so it has zip to do with the Vic20. It is cool, it is
	  from the same era, so it gets included. Its my FAQ, so sue me.
	  (The Atari 2600 system was one of the Vic20's main competitors,
	  back when.) Tim Duarte, the editor, has done a wonderful job 
	  from the first issue on. I ordered all of them and subscribed.
	  This is what I hope the young Vic20 newsletter scene becomes!
	  Contact Tim via email at:  tduarte@umass.edu  or snail him at:
	  The 2600 Connection, 8 Jenna Dr., Fairhaven, MA 02719-5123, USA



  -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Section 2.2. ---  What Vic20 software is (or once was) "out there"?
  -----------------------------------------------------------------------


	Programs found at various sites on the Internet
	-----------------------------------------------
	This is where the bulk of modern Vic20 software can be found.
	Both original programs written in the early eighties and some
	software written more recently can be found on the I'net.
		
	Some of it is questionably legal, due to copyright laws and
	such, but it does exist. Most of the software that once was
	published for the Vic20 will likely end up being saved for
	posterity through this means. While some people may have
	moral problems with this concept ("archiving" someone else's
	software without getting their expressed permission first)
	so far some very "big" original Vic20 programmers have said
	(publicly) that they didn't mind this as long as it was done
	in a non-profit manner. Some of these same authors, in fact
	all of them that I'm aware of, have even publicly praised the
	efforts we've made to preserve this software from extinction!
	Most of them seem glad to see revived interest in their works.
		
	It really would be a shame, we Digital Archeologists feel, if
	this software was no longer available anywhere ... which is
	the only real alternative. Real archaelogists face many of
	the same criticisms and moral dilemnas, by the way. Some who
	see an archeologist's work will say he's a hero who is simply
	rescuing the past. Others may say that same person is just a
	grave robber. I hope future historians will choose the former!

	Also available are good quality "emulators". That is, a way
	to use Vic20 software on a more modern computer like an IBM
	compatible, without having to own a real Vic20 system. Even
	some of the "big" original Vic20 authors seem to like this 
	idea just fine. They can play their old games on their work
	computers or view what their contemporaries had done, too.
	Which, with any luck, will inspire them to write new stuff
	or to revise some of their older games using modern tools!
		
	
	Programs on ROM cartridges
	--------------------------
	Many programs once existed on ROM cartridges for the Vic20.
	We counted between 150 and 200 known so far. These programs 
	were generally games but a few "serious" programs also exist.
		
	Due to the higher cost of manufacturing them, ROM cartridges
	usually contained only the highest quality software programs.
	Cartridge software was usually written in machine language, 
	which is widely considered to be the "best" computer language. 
		
	Today these cartridges can usually be found at thrift stores,
	garage sales and similar places. They are usually inexpensive
	as most of the people selling them figure these system "died"
	a long time ago. From time to time, people also sell their
	local finds via Internet Usenet newsgroups or offer to trade 
	them for other carts. Most users on the classic gaming groups
	want Atari 2600 carts or something similar. Some "dealers"
	will sell Vic20 (and other) cartridges when they have them.
		
	This form of software is more durable than most other ways
	used to save programs. However, even it is not perfect. Over
	time the edge connectors (gold "fingers" or stripes) get
	dirty and worn, resulting in software that either doesn't run
	well or doesn't run at all. This is easy to correct, in most
	cases. Simply clean the edge connectors, then use the cart.
	The other parts (inside the plastic box itself) can usually
	take quite a bit of abuse and will still work fine. In other
	words, if you "take a chance" on buying used cartridges, aside 
	from perhaps having to clean the edge connectors, these will 
	generally work fine. Buying carts used is a fairly safe bet.

	The author (Ward Shrake) and Paul LeBrasse spent a summer (or
	more) "archiving" ROM cartridges. What this means to you is
	that thanks to our hard work, the vast majority of cartridge
	games have been saved for posterity. These "cartridge images"
	(as they are called) work as-is with Vic-20 emulator programs
	or can also work within (modified) RAM memory expansion carts 
	on a "real" Vic-20. (See the appropriate sections in this FAQ
	for more information on these subjects.

		
	Programs on cassette tapes
	--------------------------
	Software on cassettes is generally dirt cheap but may not
	be of comparable quality to software found on ROM cartridges.
	These cassettes can be found in the same places as cartridges.
	Machine language was sometimes used but most often cassette
	games were written in BASIC, at least in part. The best of
	the cassette games bragged about being "100% ML" in their ads.

	These are far less durable than software on ROM cartridges
	but are still far more durable and reliable than cassette
	software for other computers of the Vic20's era. This is due
	to the extra care (or paranoia) that Commodore took when they
	designed their tape system. They built in a lot of redundancy
	and over-emphasized reliability in the short term. This helps
	us out, now, in the long term. There are no guarantees, but 
	most used cassette software that passes your careful visual
	inspection will most likely work fine when you get it home.
		
	Archiving efforts are under way to save all the cassette-
	based programs from extinction. However, this effort is going
	slowly, due to its extremely time-consuming nature. (Most of
	the process has to be done by hand, by experts.) As of this
	writing the author's personal list of known tape software 
	titles has exceeded 450 seperate units. There are many, many
	programs still "out there" somewhere on cassettes! (This list
	of known titles will be released to the public eventually.)


	Program listings, printed out in computer magazines
	---------------------------------------------------
	This form of software publishing was widely in use around
	the time the Vic20 lived. The popular magazines printed out
	program listings, which the users typed into their computers
	and saved using their own tape or disk drives. This method of
	software publishing was very cost effective. You could get a
	number of program listings into one magazine. Magazines were
	fairly cheap. You got the rest of the magazine almost free 
	if you looked at it that way. However, the programs that were
	distributed this way were generally very short, which meant
	that they were very simple as well. The game programs that
	came this way were generally perceived as being lower in                
	quality than cassette games, but this wasn't always true. As
	with most anything else, you generally get what you pay for,
	but you can sometimes get great bargains with some effort.

	
	Programs on computer diskettes
	------------------------------
	These are mentioned primarily just to say that this form of
	publishing was rarely used in the Vic20's day. The disk drive
	units were still very expensive then. It took some time before
	enough people had them and before companies started to release
	software for this format. A few commercial disks exist, but
	for the most part only users themselves put programs on disks.
	The few programs that were commercially released on diskettes
	were usually very expensive business or utility programs.


	TPUG software collection
	------------------------
	A large collection of games and utilities were once available 
	to members of the Toronto Pet Users group. What happened to
	this software, only time will tell. It would be really neat
	if some person(s) were to upload that collection to an FTP or
	Web site somewhere. (Hint, hint!) The TPUG group is not as
	large as it once was and Vic20 software hasn't been in large
	demand in recent years. So, archiving the collection now is a
	good idea, I think. The collection was all public domain so
	questions of copyrights are largely irrelevant. Someone with
	copies of the software just needs to find willing site(s) to
	upload them to. (Someone please check into doing this, OK?)

	A quote from their 1985 Vic20 Library catalog: "Commodore
	discontinued production of the Vic20 in 1984, and the little
	machine may disappear altogether. TPUG intends to support the
	VIC as long as there is interest...." (Including now?  -Ward) 
	"... But we can't do this without your help. Supporting the
	library by buying tapes/disks keeps the library solvent, but
	it does not keep the library growing. This can only happen if
	people continue to program the VIC." 
	 
	I couldn't resist quoting that! It makes a nice, dual-purpose 
	guilt trip! (One, for helping to get the complete TPUG Vic20 
	library uploaded onto the Internet, somewhere. And two, to
	put a little fire under today's would-be Vic20 programmers!


  -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Section 2.3. ---  Books and magazines published about the Vic20
  -------------------------------------------------------------------
		       

      For the most part, you'll have to really search for these. My own
      copies were hard won and I won't part with them! There are a few that 
      are currently available, but only a few. Good luck in finding them!
      
      If you have info about ones I missed, please write them up like I 
      did and send them in, so that I can include them. Thanks a bunch!

      No promises that these magazines always had lots of Vic20 coverage!
      If you ONLY want Vic20 related stuff, keep the Vic's life in mind;
      most magazine coverage of the Vic20 died out around 1984 or so. All
      of these mags had lots of Commodore coverage in general, however.
      Many of them ran regular features of type-in programs each month.



		    -----  MAGAZINES ONCE AVAILABLE  -----
	

	Ahoy!                   Very technical magazine, catering to very
				advanced users. I would put this one right
				up on a podium with the Transactor, for that
				reason. A long running magazine? (1984-1987)
	
	Commander               Content similar to Compute!, perhaps. But the
				issues that I have seem to have a bit more of
				the hardcore techie stuff. Lots of cool ads!

	Commodore magazine      Articles for a wide range of user levels. They
				did some interesting hardware and/or technical
				stuff, sometimes. Lots of reviews, too. This
				was put out by Commodore themselves. It used
				to be called Commodore Microcomputers before.
				The two seem to have run during most of the 
				1980s. My '83 issues call themselves Volume 4!
	
	Compute! -and- Compute's Gazette
				Articles for users at most levels. They often
				had reviews of software, interviews with some
				programmers and more. However not many people
				have really old back issues; most folks threw
				out the Vic20 issues when they got their 64's. 
				(Or so it seems to me.) Game ads are cool!
	
	Power Play              A magazine put out by Commodore themselves.
				Not the most unbiased mag out there, by a
				long shot! But it had inside information that
				others did not, including some interviews
				with Commodore's own programmers for example.
	
	RUN magazine            A wide range of articles, for a fairly wide
				range of users. One of the best known and
				longest running Commodore magazines. (One of
				my personal favorites, since I sold them most
				of my original programs, around 1990-1992!)
	
	The Torpet              Looks like an early version of TPUG magazine.
				Subtitled the Independent Commodore User's 
				magazine. I have a number of back issues that
				I bought on the Internet. The Mar/Apr 1983
				issue notes that an international competition
				among 7 computer magazines had then just voted
				the Vic20 the "Home Computer of the Year."
				
	TPUG magazine           This was put out by a (largely Canadian) user
				group; the Toronto Pet User's Group or TPUG.
				I only have two issues, but it looks good.
	
	The Transactor          Magazine for Commodore enthusiasts. It still
				commands respect, even today, among techs. It
				was aimed more towards PET and C64 users than 
				Vic20 users, but it is still very interesting.
				If you can find back issues, snatch them up!
				Five bucks per back issue is not unreasonable.
	


		    -----  BOOKS ONCE AVAILABLE  -----
	

	
	Commodore Inner Space Anthology
				This is a reprint of technical documentation
				on virtually all of the Commodore line of home
				computer hardware. Karl Hildon is selling it.
				He was the editor of Transactor for one thing,
				which should highly recommend him among techs!
				(Email:  karlh@inforamp.net  for more info.)
	
	Mapping the VIC         By Russ Davies, for Compute! books. 423 pages.
				ISBN 0-942386-24-8. This book exhaustively
				covers what every single byte in the Vic20's
				memory is for and how to use it. A must for
				serious programmers; I highly recommend it!
	
	Mastering the VIC-20    By John Herriot, for TAB books. 216 pages.
				ISBN 0-8306-0612-2 or ISBN 0-8306-1612-8 pbk.
				"An instruction manual comes with the computer
				as it does with any appliance. In addition,
				Commodore produces a programmer's reference
				guide. The aim of this book is to both comple-
				ment and compliment each of those texts in much
				the same way that a cookbook complements the
				manual that comes with a microwave oven." 
				(Taken from the book's own introduction.)
	
	Master Memory Map       By Educational Software Inc.
				"A reference guide to computer memory.... The
				book included sections on PEEKing and POKEing,
				paddles and joysticks, color locations, single
				and multiple sound registers, graphics regist-
				ers." (Press release, page 141, Oct83 Gazette)

	Personal Computing on the VIC-20 
				(Subtitled: A friendly computer guide.) 164 
				pages. This is the actual owner's manual that 
				came packed with every Vic20 computer system.
				It covers how to initially set the machine up
				and get familiar with how it all works. There
				are some programming lessons. Generally well
				written. A great book for Vic-20 beginners.
	
	Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Home Videogames
				ISBN 0-9643848-8-4. 310 pages. From their ad:
				"From Spacewar on mainframe computers to 
				Tetris on pocket organizers, Phoenix is the
				ONLY book available concerning the history of
				videogames. Within its pages you'll find Atari
				to Sony and everything in between. You'll go
				deep into videogaming's past and find the
				history of computers and then travel to the
				future of videogames and virtual reality. You
				will see how the videogame industry reigned,
				collapsed and returned even stronger than
				before." (A second edition is now available
				for $19.95 US. Contact them at: Rolenta Press,
				PO Box 3814, Union NJ 07083-1891.)
				
	Programmer's Reference Guide
				By Commodore computers, Howard W. Sams & Co.
				(A. Finkel, N. Harris, P. Higginbottom and M. 
				Tomczyk were credited as authors.) 289 pages.
				"An all-purpose reference guide for first-time
				computerists as well as experienced program-
				mers!" says the blurb on the book's cover. (I 
				think this one needs no intro from me, for
				any long-time fans of Commodore's computers!)

	VIC Graphics            Hayden Book Company, Inc. 192 pages.
				"A detailed explanation of the high-resolution
				graphics capabilities of the Vic20. The book,
				written by Nick Hampshire, includes 38 Basic
				program listings on applications from art to
				education and business. The programs require
				the use of the Vic Super Expander cartridge."
				(From press release, page 141, Oct83 Gazette)

	VIC-20 Interfacing Blue Book
				By V.J. Georgiou. 52 pages. This is more of a
				user-written booklet than a highly polished, 
				professionally written book. However, it is
				still quite interesting. It covers 19 or more
				electronic projects you can build and hook up
				to your Vic20 computer. Examples are: a voice
				output, PWM motor controller, a capacitance
				meter, expansion port buffer, 8k or 16k RAM &
				ROM expansion, 8k RAM with data retention,                                
				an A/D converter, a 128K paged ROM, and more. 
				
	VIC 20 Programmer's Notebook
				By Earl R. Savage, for Blacksburg Continuing
				Education Series. 254 pgs. ISBN 0-672-22089-X.
				"This notebook is dedicated to the proposition
				that program writing on the Vic20 can be both
				easier and better." (From the introduction.)
	
	VIC Revealed            By Nick Hampshire, for Hayden Book Company. 
				267 pages. "This book is a collection of
				discoveries about the Vic, how and why it
				works and how to use these facts to write
				better programs and perform more interesting
				functions." (From the introduction.) This is
				a very technical book for advanced users. It
				covers the 6502 microprocessor (41 pgs), VIC 
				system software (68 pgs), 6561 video inter-
				face chip (40 pgs), 6522 VIA / user port (36
				pgs) and I/O functions (51 pgs). Appendices
				fill out the rest of the book. They include
				chapters on the codes used by the (VicMon?)
				machine language monitor program and full
				technical schematics of the Vic20 computer.





    ======================================================================
    |                                                                    |
    |                 SECTION THREE:  TECHNICAL SUBJECTS                 |
    |                                                                    |
    ======================================================================        



	Notes: this section of the FAQ was originally going to be much
	longer and more indepth. However, reevaluation may be necessary,
	to consider the effects of the availability of emulated Vic20
	systems as opposed to the "real" thing. I originally had every
	intention of covering "the real thing" in great depth. Now I
	feel that perhaps I should just concentrate most of my efforts
	on the use of emulated systems in this document. Yes, no, maybe?
	
	I strongly suspect that most people will end up using an emulated 
	system more often than anyone will still use the real thing. I
	am basing this notion on my own experiences, along with some of
	the comments made by the people who once wrote games for the Vic.
	(Even some of the original programmers for the Vic20 now use an
	emulated system on their laptop IBM's to see their own games.)
	If even they prefer to stick with emulated systems, who knows?
	
	Perhaps I've covered the "real" thing well enough here already?
	Do I worry too much? Who knows. Probably....

	I expect I'll cover the real thing in some depth, somewhere, but
	I just don't know if this is the best place to do it or if a
	separate document would be a better idea? Your comments (or lack
	of them) will help me to make my final decision on this. Thanks!


  ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Section 3.1. ---  What do I need, to use an emulated Vic20 system?
  ----------------------------------------------------------------------


	You need an IBM PC and the emulator software itself. You will
	also need programs in a form that the emulator can recognize
	and use properly. If you have an IBM compatible computer, all 
	of these other things are easily available via the Internet.
	(See Section Two of this FAQ for more information on that.)
	
	The IBM PC emulator that is currently the most popular is 
	called PC VIC by B.W. van Schooten. It is a truly *excellent*
	program! Virtually all the cartridge images that Paul and I
	spent so much time saving from oblivion, work just fine on
	his emulator. It is fast, easy to use and just kicks butt!
	What's even cooler is that he barely started working on it.
	So the future bodes very well indeed for emulated Vic20's!

	There is little need for me to go into the instructions for
	how to use the PC VIC emulator because that program's creator
	went to such trouble to write it, that it is very easy to use.
	Further, he wrote excellent documentation for it as well, so
	I see no need to repeat that information here. My advice is
	to (A) get ahold of a copy of the emulator through one of the
	online sources listed in Section Two, then (B) just enjoy it!
	His text instructions will probably be all that you need to
	figure out how to run his software to your best advantage.

	In all fairness, other Vic20 emulators do exist. They have good
	and bad points, I'm sure. I'm just concentrating on this one
	emulator because it's the one I myself use. To tell the truth,
	once I got ahold of this emulator, I stopped looking for one.

	I have to assume that most people either own or have access to
	some form of an IBM compatible computer. "PC VIC" will run on 
	just about any IBM compatible ... my 386sx25 even runs it well
	and the program's author claims it will even run on 286 machines.
	He also claims that more recent computers won't run things too
	fast, due to the clever programming techniques he chose to use.
	My recent upgrade to a Cyrix P150+ shows this is true, assuming 
	you play with the internal settings a bit, to adjust things.

	I think emulation is great, and so do many of the people who
	originally made or promoted the original, "real" Vic20. So now 
	that you know all this, run out and get yourself one, ASAP!


  -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Section 3.2. ---  What hardware do I need, for a "real" Vic20 system?
  -------------------------------------------------------------------------
  
  
	This is much more complicated than using an emulated system
	but it has some advantages. Finding one used, for instance,
	might be much cheaper than buying an IBM computer if you
	had neither. (But then again, you're reading this FAQ, so
	you must have *some* type of computer, right? Or you know
	someone that does, which may be nearly as good at times.)

	Basically, until I am sure I'm not wasting both our time on
	this, I'll keep the description short and sweet. Fair enough?
	
	Remember that one or more of the books listed in Section Two 
	do have complete instructions. The owner's manual that came
	with the system, for instance, covers this subject completely.

	What actual hardware do you need? That depends on what you
	hope to accomplish with it. You can have a bare-bones system
	but it won't do much more than allow you to see letters and
	such on the screen. (I *meant* bare bones, obviously!) A less
	bare system will add accessories as you decide you need them
	but even a bare bones system will let you play cartridge games.
	
	The Vic20 was designed so that these extra parts just plug
	into the outside of the main keyboard unit. In other words,
	you don't have to unscrew anything or take anything apart.
	(With IBM's and such, you have to do that. For everything.)

	For a bare-bones Vic20 system, capable of running cartridge
	game software, you need the following peices at a minimum.
	(The next section describes these parts and many others.)


	     Vic20 "Core System" component list
	     ----------------------------------
	     -  One Vic20 keyboard unit.
	     -  One Vic20 power supply box.
	     -  One output device, such as a TV or monitor screen.
	     -  One set of appropriate cables, to hook to your screen.
		     
	     Optional items:
	     ---------------
	     -  One or more software cartridges of your choice.
	     -  "Datasette" tape drive, if you wish to use games on tapes.
	     -  Your favorite Atari 2600 compatible joystick.

  
  ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Section 3.3. ---  Description of individual peices of Vic20 hardware
  ------------------------------------------------------------------------


	Vic20 keyboard unit. 
		The actual computer is inside it. Everything else just
		plugs into one of the holes on the rear or right side.
		Couldn't be simpler. (And it is quite humorous to see
		that the industry is now touting this concept as new!)
		

	Vic20 power supply box. 
		This is a fairly heavy (but small) black box, with two 
		cords coming out of it. This is the thing you plug into 
		the wall AC outlet, to give it power. The other end, of 
		course, goes into your Vic20. (On its right hand side.)
		
		There are two versions, so be careful. Choose the one 
		that *your* Vic20 needs, if you are shopping for single
		parts to assemble a system. The oldest Vic20 hardware 
		used a two-prong cable to plug into the Vic20's side.
		The more recent version has a rounded plug with many
		(seven?) tiny pins inside it. The power supply from a
		Commodore 64, by the way, works fine for these systems.
		(In fact, I myself use a heavy duty C64 power supply
		from a third party without any problems. As many old
		time Commodore C64 users can tell you, the normal C64
		power supply was often accused of fatal unreliability.)


	An output screen device, with all the appropriate cables. 
		In other words you need a TV or a monitor as a screen.
		You also need all of the cables that go between that 
		screen and the rear of the Vic20's keyboard unit.

		This can be a bit complicated in some cases. Check
		to make sure that all these parts are included, if
		you plan to buy a used system. It is much easier than
		tracking down unfamiliar parts later on. (Hint: some
		thrift stores have pegs or what not, where all their
		cables end up, if they don't know what they go to.)

		If you have another Commodore system already you may 
		be able to use some of the same parts. The popular
		computer monitors, including the Commodore 1702, all
		work fine. TV output requires a special RF converter 
		box/cable (orinally sold with each system) which may
		turn out to be very hard to find, if it is missing.
		For TV output, you also need the standard type of TV 
		switch box most console games once had. (These can
		still be found for $5 dollars or so at Radio Shack.)
		 
		Your basic choice revolves around what parts you have
		already. Do you have a TV or a monitor? Do you have
		any cables at all, or do you have to go and track
		some down? (I'm going to wimp out a bit here, due to
		the many possible combinations available.) Your best
		bets when making your final output device decisions
		will be based on one or more of the following. You
		can (A) refer to your original owner's manual if you 
		have one, to see what is available and how to hook
		it all up. Or you can (B) find a Commodore-familiar
		buddy locally that can help you out with this part
		of things. Just show them the parts you already have
		and bribe them to hook it up for you. Or you can (C)
		go online, and get much the same help from the folks
		who inhabit the various Commodore newsgroups. Just
		leave the group a clear message, and wait for a reply.
		
		Very advanced folks can (D) build their own cables
		based on the pinout diagrams found in the manuals.
		(Some companies do exist, which custom-assemble any
		type of cable you want ... for a price, of course.)
		Hint: if you end up making your own, first look at 
		the cables made for modern systems. The SEGA Genesis 
		system has A/V cables that may or may not work out
		with some minor rework. (I haven't compared pinouts.)
		
		Remember that you can also leave "wanted to buy" ads
		online, to get the parts you need. People do it all
		the time. Here's a bit of advice to get you started: 
		The RF box device (TV hookup) that came with the Vic
		is a Vic-only part. But the 5-pin DIN cable that is
		used to hook a Vic20 to a monitor was also used on
		the early models of the Commodore C64 computer, so
		you may be able to find one of those easier. If you
		have a monitor cable, but only a TV for display, you
		can still do it. In this case you have to plug the
		monitor cables into the back of a VCR first, then
		to the TV, but it works out fine. One of the RCA-type
		connectors on the monitor cable will plug into the
		"video in" VCR connection. Experiment until you find
		out which one it is. (Remember to turn the VCR's
		channel to 3 or 4, whichever your VCR uses. Or some
		VCR's have seperate "input" buttons on the remote.)
		Once the picture works, find out which of the other
		RCA-type monitor cables hooks up to the "audio in"
		connector on the rear of the VCR. (Now you can also
		record videogames being played, watch them later on
		slow-motion, and figure out ways to cheat! Hee hee.)
		 
		Whatever you end up using, you will need a screen and
		the appropriate cables to connect the Vic20 to it.


	Cassette tape device. (Called a "Datasette")
		This is a special device made just for the Commodore
		brand of computers. Regular tape recorders will not
		work! The cassette units are generally reliable, if
		slow. They can be used both to load pre-recorded
		software into your Vic20, for instance to play a game
		on tape, or they can be used by you to save your own
		programs or data on a normal, blank cassette tape.


	Disk Drives.
		The same disk drives that work on other Commodore
		computers, work fine on the Vic20. I regulary use
		a Commodore model 1581 disk drive (with the newer
		style, much higher capacity 3.5 inch diskettes) on
		my Vic20 system. All the standard models work as
		well, including the venerable 1541. (Don't be led
		astray by bad assumptions; even though the earlier
		1541 disk drives came in a white case to match the
		Vic20's colors and even though these early ones
		say "Vic 1541" on their cases, there is no internal
		difference.) One works just as well as any other,
		assuming both the units are in operating condition.
		(These units need their own power supply boxes, as
		well as a "Commodore serial" cable for hookup.)


	Joysticks, various.
		Any joystick that works with the Atari 2600 system,
		the Commodore 64 system and perhaps even those
		that work on the Amiga, will also work on the Vic20.
		So you have your choice among many good joysticks.
		(My favorite is a microswitch model sold by Epyx.)


	Paddle controllers.
		Again, standard Atari 2600 paddle controllers will
		work just fine. Only a few games use them, however.


	Light pens.
		These are much rarer than joysticks and paddles but
		they did once exist. I assume that C64 light pens
		will work but that is just an assumption. Only a few
		programs ever used light pens for input anyway. (I
		would be curious to see if Nintendo or Atari light
		guns could be made to work? Seems likely, if someone
		went to the trouble to write some software to use it.
		But again, count this as just a rambling assumption!)


	Voice box.
		Good luck finding one, but they did exist. Some of the
		existing software will use it, if you have one hooked
		up. The Scott Adams (text) Adventure series, for one.
		(These took text input and gave audible "spoken" output.)


	Printers, modems and other user port compatible devices.
		These all existed at one time. They are mentioned here
		mainly just to have done so. Most printers of the time
		needed some sort of adapter or interface to work with
		the Vic20. CardCo and others made popular interfaces.
		(Interfaces were necessary on most computers back then.)
		
		
  -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Section 3.4. ---  How do I hook up this "real" system once I have it?
  -------------------------------------------------------------------------


	This is where I'm going to refer you to your owners' manual
	for now. Maybe I'll type up part of that book later if anyone
	feels it is necessary for me to do so? (And tells me so.) So,
	sorry if this seems like I'm wimping out this time around!

	If you read the sections above about the individual devices
	and you take the time to study the ends of the individual
	cables, I'm sure you'll figure out where to plug stuff in. The
	cables were designed so that they only go into one place. No two
	plugs or cables are exactly alike; if you think they are, look
	again! Count the pins, on both cables and holes, if you have to.

	Aside from cartridges, you should never have to force anything
	else to fit. If you do, STOP, because something is likely wrong!
	
	Most of the cables plug into the rear of the Vic20 keyboard unit.
	This includes cartridges, printers, disk drives, a screen output
	device (TV or monitor) and cassette drives. Joysticks, paddles and
	light pens plug into the right side of the keyboard unit.
	
	The first thing that should be plugged in should always be the
	power cord itself. And you should remember this ... never, ever,
	under any circumstances should you plug anything into anything
	else, without turning off the power switches on the Vic20 computer 
	unit first!! Only after you've turned off the power switch on
	the right side should you attempt to hook anything up. Doing
	otherwise risks permanent damage to your Vic20 computer system!
	(This is just good preventative maintenance on any electronics.)

	
  ------------------------------------------------------------------
    Section 3.5. ---  How do I load and use software for my Vic20?
  ------------------------------------------------------------------
  

	Question:
	How do I load and use software for my Vic20?

	Answer:
	*Using it* is generally quite easy. Loading it up? That's harder!

	Commodore, in their infinite wisdom, decided to make many of their
	loading instructions (A) unique to their computer systems and (B)
	fairly non-intuitive. (Typing "GO" won't do a thing for instance!
	And commands that work on other computers, also won't work.)

	The good news is, if you've already worked with the Commodore 64,
	the Commodore 128, the Pet series, or some other early computer by
	Commodore, you probably already know how to use the Vic20. After
	all, the external devices are identical; only the computers them-
	selves differed. So try what you know already. It may work fine!

	If that didn't help, the owner's manual will. (You had to know that
	was coming by now, right?) Or you can read the main FAQ's for the 
	Commodore newsgroups, if you don't have an owner's manual. If you
	are using the emulated system described here, complete instructions
	are included in that package. Many sources do exist, even today,
	for this information. You'll have to do some work on your own to
	find and read them, unfortunately. I can't do everything for you!

	"No, really," you say. "I need help. This is a FAQ, right?" Sigh,
	OK. You got me. I'll quickly summarize the most important stuff.

	

	Using cartridge software:
	-------------------------
	Simplicity itself. You just do the following steps....
		
		(A)  Hook the computer system up, if you haven't already.
		(B)  Turn the computer's power switch "off".
		(C)  Carefully insert a cartridge into the rear of the
		     keyboard unit, face up, on the side near the power
		     switch. (Which *is* turned off now, isn't it?)
		(D)  Turn the computer back on. The cartridge will start up.
		(E)  Read and follow the instructions on the screen. Enjoy!



	Using cassette software:
	------------------------
	Still fairly easy, but not quite as easy as using cartridges.

		(A)  Hook the computer system up, if you haven't already.
		(B)  Turn the computers power "off", pause for a short time
		     (five or ten seconds will do), then turn power "on".
		     This ("power cycling") will reset the computer for you.
		(C)  Press the EJECT button on the cassette drive unit.
		     Insert a cassette tape into your tape drive unit. Close
		     the door on the unit. (This assumes you have a cassette
		     that actually has Vic20 compatible programs on it.)
		(D)  Rewind the tape if necessary, using the drive's buttons.
		(E)  Type the word LOAD into your computer. Now press RETURN.
		(F)  The computer should answer back with "Press play on 
		     tape". So, press the PLAY button on the cassette drive.
		     It should then say "Searching" and later on, "Loading".
		(G)  If the screen goes blank, don't worry about it. It's OK.
		(H)  After waiting for what may seem like years, the Vic20
		     will probably say it found some program or other and/or
		     you will see the first screens of the program itself.
		     (If it finally just says "Ready" and then just sits 
		     there, type in the word RUN and press the RETURN key.)
		(I)  You may have to wait awhile longer to get to the first
		     real screen of the program itself. But if you got this
		     far its probably working fine. (Optional is to go out 
		     for coffee at this point. Also optional at this point is 
		     to really begin to appreciate your hard drive's speed!)
		(J)  Read and follow the instructions on the screen. Enjoy!



	Using disk based software:
	--------------------------
	Now we're into a much harder category! You either need to find an
	owner's manual for the disk drive unit, the owner's manual for the
	computer itself or some similar form of printed instructions. Or
	you can ask the folks on Usenet (comp.sys.cbm) to help you out. But
	one way or another, each of us had to expend some effort to learn
	how to use Commodore's disk drives. And so will you. I'll tell you
	the simple way that most commercial Commodore 64 disk software was
	loaded up. If that doesn't work, you'll have to do some research or 
	find a friend who'll make you a copy that will work with this method.

		(A)  Hook the computer system up, if you haven't already.
		(B)  Turn the computers power "off", pause for a short time
		     (five or ten seconds will do), then turn power "on".
		     This ("power cycling") will reset the computer for you.
		(C)  Insert a diskette into the drive unit. Close its door.
		(D)  Type the following instruction into your computer,
		     exactly as it is printed here. (And I do mean "exactly"!)
			     
			     LOAD"*",8,1     (and then press RETURN)

		(E)  Wait. A light on the drive should turn on and the drive
		     will make some noise. If you got an error message, try
		     these complete instructions again. But be patient; the
		     tape and disk drives Commodore used are generally slow!
		(F)  If this worked, congratulations! That means that whomever
		     made that disk in the first place (1) put some sort of
		     menu or loader program on your diskette and (2) that it
		     was the first program on the disk. This is the only way
		     Commodore programs on disk can "autoboot" themselves.
		(G)  If that did something, but the computer just sits there
		     with a message that say "ready", then type RUN and press
		     RETURN. Sometimes that will start a program up after it
		     has been loaded into memory. (Some start up automatically
		     and others don't. Your mileage will vary on every disk.)
		(H)  If this did something, but not what you wanted, you can
		     type in the following and see what happens. (But you're
		     quickly approaching the time you're on your own!)
		(I)  Type in the following, exactly as shown here. (Exactly!)
		 
			     LOAD"$",8    (and press RETURN)
		     
		(J)  When the disk drive stops and you see a READY prompt,
		     type LIST and press RETURN. Assuming this worked, you
		     just asked for, received and listed the disk directory.
		     In other words, you have its table of contents now. 
		(K)  Next (if you got this far) is to try replacing the
		     "*" part of step (D) above with one of the names that
		     is now listed in quotes on your screen. Try the ,8,1
		     method and the ,8 method both, until one works. You may
		     have to type RUN after it loads up, to get it to start.
		(L)  At this point, if you carefully followed all these steps
		     and nothing ever worked, you're stuck. Only an expert on
		     the Commodore computer system can help you now! (But one
		     of these days, I may rewrite a program I made years ago,
		     that read a disk automatically and let you choose from
		     an onscreen menu. "VIC Automenu," I'll probably call it.)



    ======================================================================
    |                                                                    |
    |                 SECTION FOUR:  WINDING THINGS UP                   |
    |                                                                    |
    ======================================================================        
								    

	
  --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Section 4.1. ---  What other information is available about the Vic20?
  --------------------------------------------------------------------------
		  

       Most of the information that is "out there" somewhere can be found
       in the sources listed above in Section Two. However, just to give
       you a taste of what's out there, here is a short list. Much more
       is available out there in Internet land, believe me! I seem to find
       new stuff myself, on a regular basis. My suggestion, since this FAQ
       will be updated less often than things will change on the Internet,
       is to use a search engine (like www.yahoo.com) to find current stuff.
		  

	- The "MAIN CBM FAQ" 
		This has various pointers to other electronic mags or E-zines 
		of interest to any Commodore fans. This single document, as 
		it is the main Commodore FAQ, is of course very important to 
		all users of "outdated" Commodore computers!
	
	- FTP sites for Commodore enthusiasts. 
		This regularly updated list lets you know where things are 
		available for download, using the File Transfer Protocol 
		feature of the Internet. And offers tips on what is where.
	
	- "C= Hacking" electronic magazine
		Jim Brain puts out an E-zine called "C= HACKING" which might 
		be of interest to technically-inclined Commodore enthusiasts. 
		Back issues can be found on Jim's web site and elsewhere.
	
	- "Vic20 Cartridge Rarity & Gameplay List"
		A list of all the known or rumored cartridges once made for 
		the Vic20 computer system. In this document are the names of
		software titles, company names, part numbers, years, memory 
		sizes, and our ratings for relative gameplay and rarity. 
		(Most of them have been archived now; only a handful remain.)
		Besides the carts that we know for certain do exist, there
		are also sections that mention carts we aren't sure of. In
		other words, carts we found some mention of, but not a cart.
		This section might be helpful in helping track these down,
		eventually. Other system fans have had great progress in this
		area over the years, thanks to much persistence and patience.
		(This list was written by Ward Shrake and Paul LeBrasse.)

	 - "Vic20 Cartridge Software Review" document, aka "Cartzilla".
		A huge text document (about 275k) that describes 180 Vic20
		cartridges. The list above is just a list. It's fairly short.
		Cartridge collectors might use the list as a checklist or
		for quick reference. However, this review document goes into
		much more depth about each game: its historical significance
		(if any), its place in the overall evolution of the video
		game industry, comments on the progression of game authors
		and so on. This may be interesting reading just for the heck
		of it, if I do say so myself. In any case, this text document
		should allow every serious Vic20 user to learn about software 
		they may like. I wish every system had something like this,
		but even the "biggies" usually don't. This should help to make
		collecting carts a "friendlier" task. (Written by Ward Shrake.)

	- "The Vic20 Cassette Tape Software List"
		A list of all Vic20 cassette-based games now known to exist. 
		This list was just recently released. Paul and I sort of gave
		up or lost interest in tracking down the remaining info. This
		has its share of blank spots that need filling in, but it is
		much more comprehensive than any other cassette tape list we
		have seen to date. There are 450+ programs listed on it now.
		That's 450+ titles *besides* all the carts we listed before.
		Finished or not, Paul and I decided to give this one to the
		I'net, so that others can work on it as well. Our sources of
		info are dry. (Written by Ward Shrake and Paul LeBrasse.)

	- A technical text to help prolong your Vic20's useful life.
		I once came across a document that was written to give
		some helpful advice on how to prolong the useful lifetime
		of most computer hardware. While it was written for the C64,
		the concepts apply to most other electronic hardware as well.
		Basically, the document describes how to keep parts cool
		using heat sinks and the like. Hot parts equal dead parts,
		sooner or later! For the technically inclined, this was a 
		great idea, which could use more widespread exposure. (It 
		was written by Raymond Carlsen, for comp.sys.cbm users. I
		sent it on to Jim Brain, for inclusion in his mail server.)
	
	- Some technical utility programs, for helping to archive cartridges.
		I wrote a few programs that were useful to Paul and I when
		we archived the Vic20's cartridge collection. Because not all
		the carts ever made have all been found, but Paul and I can't
		seem to find any more ourselves, I decided to release all the
		tools and text info we used ourselves, so that everyone can
		now have access to it. Hopefully, this helps keep ROM images
		of super-rare and obscure carts coming in, until the last of
		them is found and archived. (I released these in July 1997.)


  ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Section 4.2. ---  What can you do to help your fellow Vic20 users?
  ----------------------------------------------------------------------
     

       -  Find more software authors! The interviews found on Rick Melick's
	  home page kick serious butt as far as this author is concerned. But
	  there are still many original programmers, magazine editors and
	  others who could contribute to our knowledge about the Vic20 and
	  its times. If you know of anybody that was involved "back then,"
	  see if you can convince them to talk about it publicly. You can
	  point them towards Rick's Home Page and encourage them to speak 
	  up, so the rest of us can read about it. Those who were personally
	  involved generally admit that they forgot a lot already, so move
	  now or risk losing all that cool information, forever...

       -  If you have any leads on where the TPUG software library (all or
	  a part) may now be, hook up with someone capable of uploading it 
	  for all of us to use. (See Section 2.2 for more details.) There 
	  has to be more than one copy of this library, somewhere, right?
       
       -  If you can program, write new software for the Vic20! If you are
	  good at demo coding, impress us all ... we'd love to see new and
	  "impossible" stuff done on the little Vic20! It's incredibly tiny
	  memory size, by today's standards, could be used as a testing or
	  proving ground to teach programmers that FatWare is a bad thing!
	  See what you can do; either within the Vic20's unexpanded (5k)
	  limits or see just how far you can go beyond what was done before?
	  
	  One specific idea along these lines that a few of us think might
	  be cool is a clone of the game "DOOM". The Vic20 library has a few 
	  "3D" maze games already ... maybe start there and just impress us?
	  (These games were generally 4k, maybe 8k. 24k or so still remains.)
	  Perhaps a semi-official contest among coders would be ideal, yes?

       -  If you have the talent and the inclination, you might consider
	  "improving" some of the already existing software programs. One
	  example would be to write a better version of Pac-Man or to fine
	  tune some of the sloppily programmed classics, like Q*bert. (I am
	  speaking of non-profit stuff, of course. And the originals should
	  be kept exactly as they are for posterity's sake!) But it would be
	  neat to see competitions amongst the software available for other
	  classic gaming machines. (You guys aren't gonna let the Atari 2600 
	  versions of some software make us Commie fans look bad, are you!?)
	  
	  Remakes do exist today, of some of the best of the old arcade games.
	  For instance, the arcade game "Tempest" semi-recently inspired the
	  Atari Jaguar game "Tempest 2000". (By Jeff Minter of Vic20 fame!)
	  That in turn inspired the Playstation game "Tempest X3", after the 
	  Jaguar died off. Jeff's "Defender 2000" also kicks major bootie.
	  
	  Each of these had incrementally more "improved" versions; a part of
	  the evolutionary development process. But each package also had the
	  original, unmodified version included, along with more modern ones.
	  It would be cool to see "2000" versions of Vic20 originals now that
	  we've saved them from extinction via the Vic20 Archiving Project.
	  The idea that the name would soon be literal is rather amusing, too.

       -  People with certain skills (ahem) could put them to good use on
	  the Vic20, making "cracked and trained" versions of games. I don't
	  want the originals changed, as noted above; its just not right to
	  do so, for historical reasons. But some peice of software similar
	  to the Game Genie (tm) device or the Atari 2600 "Cheetah" software
	  would be nice to have on the Vic20. Especially with the emulator!
       
       -  Do you have programs that are most likely rare? If you can't find
	  them on the existing lists that are out there, but you do have one,
	  its probably rare as hen's teeth. (Or is for another game system.)
	  Not all the software has been rescued from oblivion just yet....
	  
	  We archivists *know* some very cool stuff is out there, waiting to
	  be found. Cartridge collectors could be instrumental in helping us
	  all this way, while also helping themselves to some cool stuff. I
	  myself have traded for cassette games marked "demo" in the past. 
	  To me that is cool as heck. I've also found rare cart games; ones
	  that Commodore hand-assembled in small quantities, either for pre-
	  production sales use or to send as "prototypes" to get reviewed.
	  The idea that a cart might be "the one" that got reviewed ... cool!
	  And I've traded for similar carts from other companies as well.
	  (The cart image for MasterType, for instance, was definitely proto.)
	  So get busy out there, all you cartridge collectors! Our cartridge
	  rarity list shows what we already have archived. But we want more.
	  And the efforts to rescue all the software on tape has just begun.


  --------------------------------------------------
    Section 4.3. ---  Acknowledgements and credits
  --------------------------------------------------


       -  The author: as stated before, the author of this document is Ward
	  Shrake. Yes, I typed this whole thing myself, came up with it all
	  by myself, etc. Its a dirty job, but somebody had to do it. (This
	  seemed like a lot of typing at the time, but after I finished up
	  "Cartzilla", this 110+ kilobyte FAQ seemed like a mere warm up!)
       
       -  Paul A. LeBrasse helped quite a bit. With the FAQ, his involvement
	  was mostly moral support and final proofreading. With other stuff,
	  Vic20 users have no idea how much they owe Paul! He has worked
	  long and hard to help archive ROM carts, to co-write our "Cartridge
	  Rarity & Gameplay list" and much more. Well deserved Kudos to Paul!
       
       -  My friend John "Izzy" Israel unwittingly helped to inspire my
	  initial interest in the Vic20 computing system. I say unwittingly
	  because Izzy passed away years ago of diabetic problems. Izzy was
	  a Vic20 retro-gamer long before this was popular! His love of the
	  system always made me wonder what he saw in it. When I got around
	  to checking it out, years later, well, here we are with a FAQ....
	  At the time, I was too busy with the Commodore 64 system. Oh well!
       
       -  Many folks helped us to find and archive ROM cartridges. Most just
	  sold us carts and didn't care what we did with them, so long as
	  they made a profit. (Thanks nonetheless, guys!) A few folks were
	  more actively involved in the process, acting within my and Paul's
	  stated goals of saving all the Vic20 ROM carts from extinction. We
	  appreciate the loans that some collectors made, from their highly
	  prized personal collections. Thanks for the trust in us, fellas.
	  
	  For now, I'll just say "thanks to the group; you know who you are".
	  But later on, if no one objects, I may try to release a document
	  that details the archiving project's history to date. If I do that,
	  I will try to go through my voluminous notes of the time, and peice
	  together who loaned us what carts, and so on. A few names that come
	  to mind are Russ Perry Jr., Jim Agar, and Bill Frandsen. Thanks!

       -  B. W. van Schooten deserves many thanks for making his excellent
	  Vic20 emulator. (It runs on just about any IBM PC compatible.) I
	  have several "real" Vic20's myself, of course, but I still dearly 
	  love my emulated Vic20 system. (All those games, on my hard drive!)
	  Considering that he says that he has just barely begun, WHOA! I'm 
	  impressed! Seriously. Many thanks and keep up the excellent work!!
       
       -  Some people weren't really instrumental in the early stages of this
	  resurrection of the "long dead" Vic20 system, but have recently
	  contributed very valuable services to the Vic20 community. Rick
	  Melick, for instance, managed to find and interview a number of 
	  the original Vic20 game programmers. As someone interested in the
	  history of this (and other) "classic gaming" era machines, I'd
	  like to thank Rick for helping to re-popularize the little Vic20!
	  Keep it up, Rick, you're doing great! (Keep them interviews coming!)

       -  Various retro-gamers all over the world, for making all this seem
	  like a legitimate activity. (I'm half-joking, but thanks, anyway!)
	  Many people who are bigshots in the industry today, were once avid
	  gamers back in the days. For instance, did you know that Ed Semrad, 
	  current editor of EGM magazine, once was busy setting high scores on 
	  his home Atari 2600 system to submit to Electronic Games mag? True!
	  He had High Score honors, many times back then. I've always enjoyed
	  reading what he and folks like him have to say about this industry,
	  since they've pretty much "been there and done that" the whole time.
	  Next Generation mag and others seem to remember the classic days.
	  Keep it coming, folks! Some of us feel the same way you do. Good is 
	  still good, whether or not something is now commercially available!
       
       -  You. Yes, you. Welcome to retro-gaming in the nineties! Isn't it
	  great!?!? Bet you never thought you could own hundreds of cool game
	  programs, hear from their original programmers, etc? Your interest
	  helps push the little Vic20 in the right direction ... out of its
	  former obscurity and out into everyday use! Enjoy!


[END OF DOCUMENT]
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