Commodore 64: The Best Selling Personal Computer of All Time
By Lisa Fritscher
The Commodore 64 has earned its place in the annals of history as the computer that almost single-handedly brought about the personal computer revolution. In 1982, personal computers were certainly available but they were extremely expensive, difficult to program and generally used only in university and some business settings.
The Commodore 64 was a follow-up to Commodore’s popular VIC-20. An aggressive marketing campaign targeted everyone from homemakers to students in a series of highly specialized advertisements. However, it was the incredibly low price coupled with the Commodore’s power and ease of use that truly convinced the public to buy.
In the early 1980s, it simply hadn’t occurred to many people that they could afford to purchase a computer, or that they would be able to use one without specialized training. Commodore focused on making the entire experience as user-friendly as possible, beginning with the $595 price tag. At the time, the Apple IIe was the Commodore 64’s biggest competitor, and it sold for more than double the price. For the first time, an average family could experience the power of home computing.
Many children of the 1980s still fondly remember their Commodore 64s. As popular as the system became, it was still considered cutting-edge. Owning a Commodore 64 meant an automatic membership in an elite group, particularly for those who dared to branch out into developing and exchanging programs on early bulletin boards, connected via 300 baud modems. We felt like pioneers, embarking on an incredible journey that our parents didn’t always understand.
Today the Commodore 64, though long since obsolete, holds a special place in the hearts of millions. A quick internet search reveals hundreds of fan communities. Free emulators are readily available, allowing fans to play their favorite C64 games on their modern PCs. In 2004, a joystick-based TV game based on the C64 was released, bundled with 30 of the system’s most legendary games. Enterprising enthusiasts have added onto those systems, creating virtual clones of the original system.
Some of my fondest childhood memories involve my Commodore 64, and I invite you to share your memories with me...