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What is the opinion on how durable the VIC-20 is when compared to it's bigger brother, the 64? I have fiddled with three VIC-20's over the years (two are mine, one cleaned up for someone else) and I really haven't had much issue with them. I currently own two breadbox 64's and one works, one just brings up a blank screen. (Possible power supply failure on one of them?) Now, both of my current VIC-20's have the two prong power supply plug for roughly 9 or so volts and one is a bit of a middle range unit that has the later logo, but still uses the earlier power adaptor. One thing I have noticed is that the these units don't seem to have the failiure rate that the later power supplies used on the 64 did and my earlier supply can even be opened up and the fuse replaced in it if need be. Looking in through the back of the VIC-20 (Yeah, you can see the insides through the ports!), I can see some socketed chips in there compared with the one 64 I checked, which had all soldered chips. In all honesty, I originally thought the VIC-20 sould be super cheaply made compared to the 64 when I got my first one, but so far the units are a bit more like tanks. My only issues I have had have been the external RF boxes acting up (easily bypassed with the right AV cord) and the power switches wanting to seize in the off position. Actually, I might have gotten that repaired too with some good lubricated switch and relay cleaner today. So, what's the opinion on how durable the VIC-20 actually is?

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Probably a little more durable than the C64, but parts and supplies abound and on the cheap for both, so I wouldn't be too worried about the longevity of either honestly. Buy a known working spare or two of each if it'll help you sleep at night. :)

 

Can always take some preventative measures too, like ensuring the motherboard's aren't caked in dust. Replacing and renewing the heatsink compound on the VIC video output, or even placing little tiny heatsinks on any other I.C.'s that get warm with extended use. Then there's the C64 Saver that monitors voltage coming in and shuts down when over voltage occurs. Lots of good stuff here::

 

http://personalpages.tds.net/~rcarlsen/cbm.html

 

...and can build your own C64 Saver if so inclined here:

 

http://console5.com/store/commodore-64-power-saver-circuit-kit.html

 

...is the question being asked because you're trying to decide which to keep for the long haul? I'd think a C64 would provide infinitely more enjoyment over a Vic-20, but... :lol:

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I've had broken specimens of both kinds. However the VIC-20 doesn't have a dedicated PLA chip for memory management, which tends to be the number one fault in breadbox C64's so in that respect VIC's might last longer. Also the technology and chip densities are not as advanced which might mean something to durability.

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Well, I'm 1 for 1 on VIC-20s and 1 for 4 on C64s, if that helps.

At one point all my C64s (I acquired extras in lots or super cheaply from friends getting rid of them who knew I'm into this kind of stuff) worked to a greater or lesser degree; three worked perfectly, the other had minor issues (occasionally funky sound, sometimes wouldn't load certain disks). I took out one of my good ones a few months ago to find that it had died on me for some reason since the last time I'd used it: garbled gibberish graphics on boot. So I tried another one; Black Screen Of Death. The third good one was still good but the case was always yellowed and disgusting-looking, so I swapped the board into one of the nicer cases. (I previously donated the fourth iffy, mostly-working system to a friend for parts.)

So my issue with C64s hasn't been power-related, but rather storage-related. (Unless of course something power-related happened the last time I turned them off before I put them away.)

My VIC-20 has been rock-solid so far. So solid, in fact, I actually broke my Defender cart in it :| (the VIC-20 has the tightest cart port this side of a new NES 72-pin connector). It's a second-edition, "rainbow" version that uses the C64 power supply.

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I've found VIC's to be much more durable that 64s. A lot of that has to do with the power supplies. The 64's power bricks are more prone to failure, and more likely to knock out one or more of the 64s custom chips (usually a PLA or SID) when they do go bad.

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I am just curious is all. When it comes to me and Commodore, I really only use them casually for gaming once in a while, with the VIC getting the most use when I do. I know that there is that nice power supply out there, but what little I use the systems barely warrants the expense so to speak. I already know what vintage computer system I want to put into more full-time use in the future and want to invest more in as well. Still, would be nice to get either the VIC or 64 out once in a while without headaches. Oh, I also have two complete 128's that I don't think I have ever powered up along with a spare power supply for them. All freebies.

Edited by simbalion
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My dad has had the same c64 since HS. I guess its long lasting.

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There was less cost-cutting in the Vic-20, less penny-pinching. I suppose that says a lot.

 

Back in the day I was 1 for 1 on both rigs.

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I have picked up 8-10 C64s, and only 2 of those worked without any problems. I was able to get another 2 of those up and running after some work.

 

I've picked up 4-5 VIC-20s, and have NEVER had one fully functional.

 

Whenever I buy an untested vintage Commodore computer, I always assume it doesn't work. Vintage Apple, IBM, Radio Shack/Tandy CoCo, and Texas Instruments have been MUCH more reliable. I'm at 100% with all of these brands so far.

Edited by Retro-Z

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Whenever I buy an untested vintage Commodore computer, I always assume it doesn't work. Vintage Apple, IBM, Radio Shack/Tandy CoCo, and Texas Instruments have been MUCH more reliable. I'm at 100% with all of these brands so far.

 

Weird, I've almost never had any problems with commodore computers. I must have had a dozen C64 and half a dozen Vic 20s over the years, and I think one each wasn't functional or had issues. And some of these have been at the bottom of a grimy box marked $5 for junk at garage sales. :)

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The main issues I've had with VIC-20s have been unresponsive keyboards (sluggish response; I do have one that works perfectly, fortunately, and it's one of the more desirable models). The only keyboards I had issues with on the C-64 (or 128) side are the two I have for the SX-64. One is unresponsive at all and the other has the sluggish/occasionally unresponsive key issue.

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Fortunately when it comes to VIC-20 and C64, the keyboard mechanisms are 100% (*) interchangable so if you're not worried about authencity, you can nicely swap a responsive C64C keyboard into a VIC. I've done that one two of my three VIC's, mainly because the old keyboards were so tired and that I had a stash of C64C keyboards with missing motherboards. If you're methodical, you'd even move over all the keycaps for an authentic look, but I couldn't care.

 

(*) Ok, perhaps 99% as sometimes the keyboard cable is a bit short on late revision C64C/G so it won't reach all the way for a VIC or breadbox C64.

Edited by carlsson

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The keyboards on both my VICs seem fine. That said, I've experienced sluggish keyboards on about every system. The only one of my working commodores so far with a flakey keyboard is my SX-64. It works, but some keys repeat very easily or take two presses to respond.

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I have had a chip in my C64C give up on me after i was stupid enough to plug a Sega Mega Drive controller in it without fact checking that it tends to fry that chip first. A kind soul on a swedish c64 forum sold me a new one which i changed in a jiffy as it was socketed.

 

Also some of my keys are unresponsive sometimes but that is to expect from a heavily used almost 30 year old keyboard.

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Weird, I've almost never had any problems with commodore computers. I must have had a dozen C64 and half a dozen Vic 20s over the years, and I think one each wasn't functional or had issues. And some of these have been at the bottom of a grimy box marked $5 for junk at garage sales. :)

 

Guess I just have bad luck! Seriously though, I had a huge storage tub full of defective Commodore stuff at one point. I purchased 3 VIC-20s at garage sales last year... none of them worked.

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The C model ( slim ) was the more reliable version despite it being cheaper to produce. It had better ventilation and ran a lot cooler. The older models with the old longboard PCB were more likely to not work due to faulty PLA.

 

The key to keeping a C64 working long term is a good power supply. Installing a reset switch helps too.

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Between my dad, my son and myself, we've owned 6-7 VIC-20's and probably 25-30 C=64's over the last 29 years. We have a habit of rescuing them from swap meets, yard sales and Goodwill's Bargain Barn in Santa Cruz, CA.

 

We can, of course, go into the ups and downs of both of them and come to the determination that, despite their respective quirks, they are both wonderful machines, but...

 

I'm for calling the VIC-20 more robust than the C=64, just based on my own (personal) experience... especially the two-prongers!

 

It also helps that there are modernized, drop-in replacements for both the 6502 & 6522 (both used in the VIC-20) that are still produced today (those account for 3 of the 4 chips in VIC-20's that fail most often), while there are no drop-in replacements for either the 6510 or 6526 (used in the C=64) currently produced. You have to resort to new, 25-30+ year old stock or used pulls.

 

Just some observations from a guy with 4 VIC-20's that still run and 7 C=64's with various combinations of bad PLA's & faulty 6526's. :_(

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Can the C64C be included in this discussion? That was the Commodore that was the most durable. To this day I would trade for the 64C instead but back then I put more on having the original model. Plus the C64C wasn't as heavily discounted as the C64 so no way of convincing the parents on buying the "same" computer.

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Can the C64C be included in this discussion? That was the Commodore that was the most durable. To this day I would trade for the 64C instead but back then I put more on having the original model. Plus the C64C wasn't as heavily discounted as the C64 so no way of convincing the parents on buying the "same" computer.

 

I was "fortunate." My original Commodore 64 was hit by lightning (via a surge during a bad storm through the electrical outlet) and it somehow messed up the graphics chip, where the sprites in games weren't quite formed right (kind of jumbled). Fortunately, I got a C-64c out of it, which was nice, since that also came with GEOS, which I put to good use as well. I still have both computers, but use of my C-64c eventually got supplanted by an Amiga 500 as my primary computer (and so on and so forth).

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I was "fortunate." My original Commodore 64 was hit by lightning (via a surge during a bad storm through the electrical outlet) and it somehow messed up the graphics chip, where the sprites in games weren't quite formed right (kind of jumbled). Fortunately, I got a C-64c out of it, which was nice, since that also came with GEOS, which I put to good use as well. I still have both computers, but use of my C-64c eventually got supplanted by an Amiga 500 as my primary computer (and so on and so forth).

 

LOL that's funny. You mean your Commodore 64 got damaged by a power surge? Struck by lightening sounded hilarious but I totally get what you're saying. I think a lot of us had surge issues due to electrical storms when our parents demanded we shut off our systems during these bad storms. Thank goodness it never happened (damage) to any of my Ataris while playing during a storm.

 

Yeah, I really liked GEOS too and a friend was nice enough to give me his copy when he bought his Commodore 64. When it came out, they started giving it out with the original models as well and the boxes had a sticker informing user the program was included. I remember the street price being bumped up $10 because of it on the original models.

 

The best thing about it was that it came with a really powerful word processor (it was slow but powerful). I remember using AtariWriter for years and feeling that Commodore lagged behind Apple and Atari by a lot before GEOS Write came out.

 

The 64C with GEOS Write elevated the Commodore computer to a serious word processing system. It's ironic because out of all the Commodore owners I knew, only a handful ever had a printer or ever bothered to use GEOS. I guess without a hard drive the whole GEOS operating system wasn't as convenient as DOS.

 

Either way a 64C, 1541-II, GEOS, printer, and a monitor made the Commodore feel like a serious computer. I enjoyed typing on the 64C.

 

Sorry to hear your system didn't make it ok through it but it sounds like you gained something out of it! If your C64 ever gets struck directly by lightening, please share the picture. That's something I'd like to see :-D.

Edited by TheGreatPW

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GEOS on a floppy based 64k computer… I tried it out in the late 80's and came away with this single thought: a program to run a program, which runs programs. :lol:

 

Seriously, the graphical user interface thing wasn't lost on me (cool in its own right and especially handy when dealing with Commodore's special brand of DOS), but by and large - seemed a bit superfluous. Had a couple of chances to use it since (and again when i bought a C64c BITD), but didn't and still do not see the point. A C64 equipped with a HD, REM, printer and the proprietary mouse which isn't even Amiga compatible (WTF?!) maybe. On second thought, nah. Only use this stuff for gaming anymore. :rolling:

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GEOS on a floppy based 64k computer… I tried it out in the late 80's and came away with this single thought: a program to run a program, which runs programs. :lol:

 

Seriously, the graphical user interface thing wasn't lost on me (cool in its own right and especially handy when dealing with Commodore's special brand of DOS), but by and large - seemed a bit superfluous. Had a couple of chances to use it since (and again when i bought a C64c BITD), but didn't and still do not see the point. A C64 equipped with a HD, REM, printer and the proprietary mouse which isn't even Amiga compatible (WTF?!) maybe. On second thought, nah. Only use this stuff for gaming anymore. :rolling:

 

For me, it was great. It was my first exposure as a kid to a GUI and mouse, and for all the relative limitations of 64K and a single floppy drive, it worked great. I used the word processor and paint program primarily, and the former in particular was quite good. I was able to get WYSIWIG output on my crappy Commodore MPS-803 printer, which had only a 9-pin dot matrix head. The fact that it printed everything, including text, as graphics, really made the output shine in a way that using the standard character set just wasn't possible. It really helped my work stand-out in school.

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