The VIC 20 was Commodore’s first venture into the home computer market and perhaps the lesser known of all the systems that Commodore would eventually release and this is a book about that computer and all its early peripherals. The VIC 20 was the first colour home computer to sell one million units, so it’s an important computer in the gaming timeline and I am very much looking forward to reading about a computer I know very little about.
The book is printed on high quality paper and, for those who like facts its 130gr/m² matte paper, it measures up at 148x210mm (A5 size to you and me), with 245 content-packed pages and is wonderfully bound in a glossy hardback cover. Moving inside the book it starts with a wonderful foreword by Michael Tomczyk, talking about the challenges and the heights the VIC 20 achieved. Next is an introduction by the author Giacomo M. Vernoni, where I was surprised to read that the book originally was set out to be completely image based but, as the project grew, it became apparent that a written historical account was needed and I’m so glad Giacomo went with that.
There are a few contributions by Michael Tomczyk and other team members who contributed to the launch of the VIC 20: the VIC Commandos (as Tomczyk describes them in his foreword) Andy Finkel, Neil Harris, Eric Cotton, Sue Mittnacht, and Andrew Colin.
The first half of the book shows all the hardware and peripherals with high-resolution images, some are spread across two pages with amazing clarity, there are many pictures of all the peripherals that Commodore released for this computer such as drives, printers, the VICmodem, expansions, joysticks and paddles. What really interested me was seeing for the first time some amazing looking kit like the VIC 1020 Expansion Chassis and all the VIC models and revisions which again was all very informative and very well written information relating to each item.
The second half of the book features heavily on the software side with a few pages covering the production of the VIC 20 user manual. There is so much content here that you have to give a compliment on the detail at which Giacomo has gone to. There is an article about teaching to program, by Professor Andrew Colin, and an article called The VIC 20, Captain Kirk and me, by Eric Cotton both of which absolutely fascinated me.
There is much much more including:
- 3/8/16K RAM
- RS232C Interface
- Super expander
- Programmer’s Aid
- VICMon / Machine language monitor
Then there are the games! Again, high-resolution scans of the box art all professionally color corrected to remove the ink fading and present the covers in their original glory. Being a complete newbie to this computer, I found myself using the book as a companion as I search for footage of the games as I read the book. The small A5 form factor at this point lent itself to this as I was easily able to use my iPad and book at the same, this is perhaps irrelevant to the review but it erased my initial concerns about the book’s size.
All of the VIC 20 games are covered, each is spread across two pages. On the left page is a single screenshot set within a very retro looking CRT TV with a description of the game above and the box art on a part of its own on the right. This theme is more or less carried on throughout all of the games with some extra double page image spreads here and there to mix things up. There is some original advertising poster images that have again been remastered that add a nice touch to the book. Overall I am highly impressed with what the author has produced here and I would highly recommend this book to VIC 20 fans, Commodore fans or Retro fans in general.
The book can be purchased for 29,00€, (£25/$35) HERE
Retro head and key holder of RVG.