Return of the VIC-20

Commodore challenges Apple digital music dominance

My first computer was a Commodore VIC-20 hooked up to an old tube television. A friend later got a Commodore 64, but he was always jealous of our floppy disk drive since he only had a cassette tape drive.

Ah, the bad old days.Evic_.jpg

The Dutch PC Maker Tulip acquired the Commodore name in 1997, and now they begin their conquest. The eVIC (so-named because it sports a 20GB drive – no 5k RAM expansion cartridge for this baby) is meant to take the digital music world by storm.

The player features MP3, WMA and WAV support, and sports a 128 x 64 pixel blue-backlit display. There’s a sufficiently large RAM buffer to provide 28 minutes of no-skip audio, which can be tweaked through the built-in five EQ pre-sets or a user-defined EQ setting. In addition to playback, the unit will record voice memos and encode audio straight to MP3.

The player hooks up to a host PC as a USB Mass Storage device, ensuring compatibility with Mac and Linux as well as Windows. However, you’ll need software capable of generating .m3u format playlists if you’re to make the most of this cross-platform support.

The e-Vic measures 8.1 x 6.1 x 1.6cm and weighs 145g. Inside is a 1200mAh rechargeable battery – enough, claims Tulip, to provide 10-15 hours’ playback – an impressive figure. The player ships with is own recharge and data-transfer cradle, and Tulip is bundling a remote control and “in-head” earphones, too.

If it lives up to it’s advertising, this looks like a winner. There’s [very little] more info available at the official site.

At one time I knew all the patterns for the Pac-Man knockoff COSMIC CRUNCH on the old VIC, but I don’t think I remember them. Also, I wrote a little game called “Battleship” in BASIC. No “E-7? Hit!” here, friends. You sailed the (text) seas in search of enemy warships using headings and speeds, and you encountered warships of all sorts and engaged in duels for survival. And you could replenish fuel and ammunition if you encountered a supply ship. All text, all the time. Good stuff. For 1983. I could probably put about a gazillion copies of that program onto the eVIC. (thanks to the reader who forwarded me the link)


  1. Yeah, the floppy drive was separate when we bought ours, too. If I remember correctly, it may have cost more than the computer itself. I was about 12, and my dad took us to some computer show type thing. I really wanted an Atari 400, but we could get the VIC and the disk drive for the same price as an Atari 400 and a tape drive. So VIC it was, and a nerd was born.