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CED in the History of Media Technology


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Commodore VIC 20 Computer

1981: Commodore VIC 20 Personal Computer

Commodore Business machines, famous for their PET computers with integral displays, introduced the VIC 20 at the Winter CES in January 1981, the same show where RCA displayed the upcoming CED system. This was a color computer for $300 designed to display on Channel 3 or 4 of a TV. The machine also had composite A/V outputs for improved display quality on an A/V monitor. The machine contained 5K of RAM expandable to 32K and used the same 6502 processor found in the Apple I - II machines. Soon, a wide variety of ROM cartridges including terminal emulators and "The Quick Brown Fox" word processor gave the machine easy access to programs without the long loading time of the cassette tape interface on the Commodore PET computers.

As time went on Commodore reduced the price of the VIC 20, and in January 1982 introduced the VIC Modem, a compact 300 baud unit priced at $110 that attached to the modular handset cord (not the wall cord) of standard telephones. A VIC 20 with this modem and a terminal emulator ROM cartridge became the cheapest way to access early on-line information services like CompuServe and The Source.


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