Commodore 64 Microcomputer


Introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 1982, the Commodore 64 was an inexpensive and popular home computer. It used an MOS 6510, 1 mHz processor, and had 64 kilobytes of random access memory -- hence its name. The initial retail price was $595, but by May 1983 it dropped to $250. The computer, which could use a television set as a display terminal, had a sound system, an expansion port, and could support a keyboard, joystick, cassette tape, floppy disk drives, a 2400 baud modem, and a printer. It was more powerful and cheaper than any of its competitors (the Apple II, IBM-PC, or the TRS-80). The success of the Commodore 64 was due in part to marketing – it was not only sold by authorized dealers but in department stores, discount stores, toy stores, and college bookstores as well.

The Commodore 64 was manufactured until 1993. In the eleven years of production between 17 and 30 million were sold worldwide, making it the most popular early home computer. Benj Edwards writing for PCWorld in 2008 said, “This pioneering PC made instant geeks out of millions of people back in the 80s.”

The donor, Deborah D. Hilke, was a staff member of the NMAH Education Department. This computer was one her family purchased in 1983. Her son taught himself how to program in BASIC on this computer—he now works for Microsoft Corporation.

See related objects 1989.0544.01.1-.8, 1989.0544.02-.05


Date Made: 1982

Maker: Commodore Business Machines

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Computers

Exhibition: My Computing Device (keyboard/processor)

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Credit Line: Gift of D. D. Hilke

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1989.0544.01.1Catalog Number: 1989.0544.01.1Accession Number: 1989.0544Serial Number: P01045454

Object Name: Microcomputer

Measurements: overall: 3 in x 16 in x 8 in; 7.62 cm x 40.64 cm x 20.32 cmcarton: 5 1/4 in x 18 in x 13 in; 13.335 cm x 45.72 cm x 33.02 cm


Record Id: nmah_334636

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