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Commodore 64 Part of Florida Collection

By Neal McChristy
16-Sep-98

In 1982, a computer with 64K, four dual-function keys, color and sound was placed on the market for $600.
64

The Commodore 64 was marketed beginning in 1982 by a firm founded with typewriters. It went on to sell over 20 million units by 1992.

The little computer went on to sell over 20 million units in the following decade, and holds the honor as the best-selling computer of all time. The Commodore 64 had over 10,000 programs written for it in the familiar .bas filename extension for Basic.

“At the time, they did more than an $8,000 bookkeeping machine,” said Skip Vitch, DeLand, Fla., who has a collection of the Commodore machines, manuals and testing equipment at his home between Orlando and Daytona Beach. Vitch, age 52, acquired some of the Commodore 64 and 128 machines and keyboards in 1985-86 when his company was a service center for Commodore. He has an extensive supply of equipment peripherals and manuals.

“I have the service manuals on everything Commodore produced,” Vitch said, “into the old PETs.”

Vitch also has an NCR 100 class cash register in his collection, which was used in Orlando’s McDonald’s store until the late ’70s. The maximum ring-up on the chrome-cabineted machine is $5.99 and there is no calculating with the register. He also has some equipment that is the predecessor to the Commodore 64 – the PET, or

NCR
This 100 class NCR Cash Register was used at the Orlando McDonald's until the late '70s.

Personal Electronic Transactor. He has manuals on NCR cash registers, bookkeeping machine and equipment and Smith-Corona machines, in addition to some machines. One of his machines is a Burroughs adding machine.

Originally from New York, Vitch started as an NCR field technical engineer in Albany, N.Y., in 1964. He moved to Daytona in 1971, working for NCR there four years, then went into business for himself.

His sales and service business, National Business Machines, started with the service of cash registers and bank equipment, and has sold Smith Corona typewriters in addition to Sanyo and Samsung cash registers.

“I do a few little copiers,” Vitch said, “but mostly cash registers.”

Typewriters were the basis for the founding and introduction of the Commodore computers about two decades ago.

A young Bronx man, Jack Tramiel, started a typewriter business that later became Commodore Business Machines in 1962. He brought an electronic pocket calculator onto the market.

Chuck Peddle, who worked for Tramiel, received permission to build the first computer based on the MosTek chip, a company bought by Tramiel in October 1976. He demonstrated the PET series of machines – a 4K model – in April 1977. The PET was introduced by Commodore at a trade show in Chicago in 1977.

Competition was not absent when the PET was introduced. The TRS-80, Radio Shack’s computer that competed with the Commodore, was also introduced in August 1977.

The announcement of the marketing of the Commodore 64 was in January 1982. It had color graphics, custom sound from an integrated sound synthesizer chip and 20KB of read-only memory (ROM).

Vitch said that the power converter shown in the photograph had a gel-based interior. Formatting one of the 5.25” disks on the Commodore 64 took about five minutes. “It took forever” to copy a disk, Vitch said. Loading programs was extremely slow, Vitch said, but “the games — they had fantastic programs.”

There were some predecessors or contemporary competition to the Commodore, but the features in the series was a major accomplishment of that era.

“The Commodore was the first one that was mass-produced and sold,” Vitch said.

SKIP

Editor’s Note: Skip Vitch would like to sell his equipment. Contact him at P.O Box 1390, DeLand, Fla. 32721, or call (904) 736-1122.

Read more about the Commodore series of computers on the Internet at www.mynewoffice.com/pcmuseum/start or www.mynewoffice.com/pcmuseumnewhome

Vich, Deland, Fla., with an extensive Commodore and PET collection and manuals, also has property in the Pisgah National Forest area in North Carolina.


 
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