Commodore VIC-20


  • 2020-03-12: See this Before Sub-Etha Software article for more screen shots and details on my earliest creations.
  • 2020-04-27: I have restored Factory TNT and now have a screen shot that shows the custom character set in place.
  • 2024-02-10: Eggs has been located! Link to article added.
My first computer programs for the VIC-20.

In 1982, my father bought me my very first computer: a Commodore VIC-20. I only used the system for about a year before moving on to a Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer, but during that time I wrote a number of programs.

In 2016 I found a cigar box of my original VIC-20 cassette tapes and have been able to salvage some of the programs I wrote.


My first published program was a “catch the falling objects” game called Eggs. It appeared in the VIC-NIC Newsletter. Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate my copy of the issue, and I believe it was before I had a cassette drive for the VIC. Thanks to someone finding their copies and sending me a scan, I now have the program.

Brick Layer

Inspired by one of the original 1977 launch titles for the Atari VCS, Surround, Brick Layer involved laying a line of bricks around the screen to cover as much area as possible without crashing in to the walls or your line of bricks. It was a one player game.


Factory TNT

Inspired by the 1981 Activision game for the Atari VCS, Kaboom, Factory TNT involved catching falling bombs. If they hit the ground, a small mushroom cloud appeared. I even created a custom font for the numbers.

VIC-20 Factory TNT.

Gold Grabber

Gold Grabber was an original game where the object was to run around the screen trying to grab the gold (which moved randomly) while avoiding the enemy (which also moved randomly).

Screenshot 2016-02-23 21.27.43

Maze Gobblers

This Pac-Man game was unfinished due to memory limitations. I used photos of Pac-Man found in magazines as references to accurately recreate the maze. I knew of no clones at that time which replicated the maze accurately. I have been unable to find anything but the title screen.

Maze Gobbler for the VIC-20
Maze Gobbler for the VIC-20

Meteor Clash

This one may have been loosely inspired by games Defender. The object was to pilot a spaceship up and down to dodge meteors as the move across the screen.



Inspired by the 1981 Donkey Kong, this was the most complete game I created. It featured three different levels.


Space Shot

Move the crosshair around the screen and try to shoot the object.


Thick Brush

A low resolution drawing program that used all the available colors of the VIC-20.


Missing Games

Gorf-like space shooter – I did various experiments when learning BASIC programming. I recall writing a demo that let you move a spaceship at the bottom of the screen and shoot lines up the screen that left laser beams like one of the levels in the Gorf arcade game.

Donkey Kong variations – When I first started working on a Donkey Kong type game, I couldn’t figure out how to do the ladders (climbing up and down). I experimented with making them teleporter pads, so you would stand on one then hit a key to be “beamed” up to the next level (or down). For Sky-Ape-Er, I also initially started out with a two-character high graphic for the player and had it looking more like Mario (recreating the look similarly to how the ape looks).

Death Star – I used the extended Petscii character set to recreate the Death Star trench from the original Star Wars movie, and was working on a game that would use that as the bottom graphics.