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My first computer was a VC20. Was it just renamed (for the German market?) as a VolksComputer?

original VC20 box

(I am a Finn and the VC was bought in Finland). Or were there any actual differences to VIC-20?

  • Out of interest, was all the documentation that came with it in German or in Finnish? – hippietrail Jul 7 at 14:01
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    I am really sorry for not visiting here enough! Thanks to the guy / gal who edited my question as well. @hippietrail as for the language, I can't remember for sure. I have a feeling it may have come with a German original manual and a photocopied version of an English VIC-20 one (probabaly, as not only me, but also my parents were too good in German). – Tuomo Jul 10 at 13:04
  • I put the photo in. I misread your question and thought you were wondering if VC-20 stood for "VolksComputer". I had no idea it was written all over the box and everything until I Googled it. So I put a pic in just in case anyone else was as dumb as me. But yes I also wondered if the VC-20 name was used only in German markets and markets that sourced from Germany, or if it was used in a few countries regardless of language. – hippietrail Jul 10 at 14:10
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    @hippietrail So you both fixed my question & answered it!!! Thank you. Sorry, I don't have access to / knowledge of the docs (living in Japan nowadays). But, as you also seem to have interest: "I" (or practically my dad, I guess I was abt 7 at the time) bought it from "Bebek" which probably doesn't exist anymore but when existed was a miniature version of Radioshack (I mean miniature version of what RS was in the 80's!!!). – Tuomo Jul 11 at 16:05
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    @hippietrail Sorry! Just Googled. Bebek is alive, kicking, and still like they were 40 years ago!!! Go to bebek.fi/kauppa/index2.php and you see capacitors, diodes and stuff!! But, in Finland, despite being the country of Linux and Slush, I am worried if they have enough customers. – Tuomo Jul 11 at 16:24
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VIC-20 vs VC20 (or VC-20)

In all original documents only VC20. Often stylised with the C as the commodore logo "C=". The intended naming was always Commodore<space>VC20, like written on the machine as well (*1).

My 1st computer was a VC20. Anone knows if it was just renamed (for German market?) as a VolksComputer?

The most told story is that VIC can be pronounced in German close to 'Fick' which would be 'a fuck'. So they decided to change it. But despite searching since back then, I couldn't find any reliable source to prove it. Also, I know noone who would mix this up, not even an adolescent trying really hard. More important here, German uses, unlike English, a lot of inflections so a remote similarity of the base word will not transform as well in real usage. So using 'Fick' in German isn't as universal and simple as in (US) English. 'Fick Computer' for example simply doesn't make any sense.

A supporting argument often made is that it would be pronounced that way in some regions like Bavaria. Being from Bavaria, I can not validate this. While we do pronounce some words spelled with 'V' different than lets say northerners, it's still different from the F sound in most cases all over Germany.

So in my opinion it's an urban myth made up afterwards - don't we all 'know' how puritan, bigot and outright weird Americans are when it comes to bodily functions? That's a great base for a myth to work with :)

A more believable story goes that they simply came up with the idea to sell it as a computer for everyone. Volkscomputer has a great ring to German ears. Just compare Volkswagen, Volksfest, Volkshochschule, Volkslied, Volksstadion and many other well known names starting with Volk*. Using that name was a once in a life time chance to place the computer right in everyone's mind as established and positive.

How hard Commodore tried to position them self close to Volkswagen shows this add for a programming challenge in 1982 (*2):

enter image description here

While not able to right out claim similarity to Volkswagen they simply did a challenge for VC20 programmers with a VW convertible as price, so they could put it in their add. This add was run for several month not only in next to every computer magazine but as well non computer papers.

Pure genius. It may have been the greatest branding in that decade (at least). Whoever made it should be named #1 post war advertizer.

At that point it's also noteworthy that it was neither advertized nor sold as Volkscomputer 20 which would be the case if VC20 is an abbrevation, but as VC20 - Volkscomputer on packageing, manuals and add on packaging or hyphenated as "Volks-Computer". Booktiltes were like Lerne Basic mit dem Volkscomputer VC20.

"Volkscomputer" was as well used with the C64, at least early on. After all, why giving up such a great label?

Or were there were any actual differences to VIC-20?

No, or more correct, none beside being a PAL machine.


*1 - Similar the C64 was never called so in original documentation, but always Commodore<space>64 - as well like written on the machine itself.

*2 - Taken from the pages of Werner Kracht, who did win the VW with a music sequencer - and sold it right the next day to buy a professional tape deck for recording.

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    @Tommy are you talking about Volkshochschule? It might be best translated as Peoples-University. It's one of the great left overs of the workers and citizens enlightenment of the 19th century. The basic idea is about life long learning (way before it was a business hype). In Germany these are usually city run, but there isn't a fixed curriculum or a degree to earn, but a huge mixture of lectures, courses, seminars, speeches and whatsoever. In Munch for example about 20,000 per year. The city just supports space and organization, will all teaching is on a peer to peer base – Raffzahn Jul 3 at 19:56
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    @Tommy There's a wiki-entry about - although, it really gives only a very rough explanation. – Raffzahn Jul 3 at 19:58
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    which and abbreviation – Peter Mortensen Jul 4 at 9:10
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    @Tommy, also note that a German Hochschule is a university, not an American High School. – Carsten S Jul 4 at 16:34
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    Yes, I think I've learnt that die Volkshochschule is similar to the UK's Open University but much broader in scope. I don't know what a broad equivalent would be in the US; I strongly suspect there isn't one. – Tommy Jul 5 at 2:37
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It was just renamed — the hardware was identical to other PAL machines being primarily a 6502, a 6561 (the PAL version of the 6560) and a small amount of static RAM.

The C-1540 was similarly rebranded as the VC-1540 in Germany, and the C-1541, which is just a ROM swap of the 1540, was originally the VC-1541.

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    Sorry for a late response: Thanks a lot for a great answer (also) to the actual question. (Stupid me, should have realized the 25 vs 30 fps (and, needless to say the AC/DC transformer, but that I would not anyway consider being part of the VIC/VC) – Tuomo Jul 10 at 13:15
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It was renamed in Germany as VIC pronounced in German is a nasty nasty word. In English it would be written with F a U and a CK.

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    ... but only if you're from the South and pronounce V like F. I'm from the North (where we pronounce it like W) and never understood this line of reasoning. See also: the IKEA Gudvik bed :-D – Michael Graf Jul 3 at 18:12
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    "English" it is (capital "E"). "english" is something completely different. – Peter Mortensen Jul 4 at 9:22
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    @MichaelGraf, with the exception of loan words like •Vase•, German •v• is always pronounced like •f•. – Carsten S Jul 4 at 16:40
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    Half of Germany (i.e. the south half) is enough people pronouncing v almost always like f to warrant a company of the size of Commodore to avoid naming the product in a way that will be ambiguous. It is not because you, in your region do not see the issue, that the marketing people of Commodore would not. @blackjack2 My source. Simply my memory. It was discussed in the press at that time and it was a joke people made constantly (yeah we were immature then). It is likely that someone at Commodore had the forsight to avoid the controversy before it even started. – Patrick Schlüter Jul 7 at 6:43
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    @PatrickSchlüter Sorry to diapoint you, but the V pronounced F-like is all over Germany, or how do you say Vogel, Vieh or Volkswagen? Wogel, Wieh and Wolkswagen? Don't think so. – Raffzahn Jul 7 at 11:09

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