Commodore 64, For the Masses Not the Classes

Commodore 64

The Commodore 64

By Davis Landry
April 29, 2020

Computers have become a normal part of life and most people have access to them, however this was not always the case. Forty years ago, when the personal computer revolution was just beginning, computers were not considered a mainstream item. One of the earliest computers to enter the mainstream was the Commodore 64. It was initially released in 1982 for the remarkably low price of $595 1 . This was the first computer to really enter the lives of the average person, with 17 million total units sold and over a thirty percent share of the home computing market 2 . The Commodore 64 was built by Commodore International led by a man named Jack Tramiel. He is quoted saying that he wanted this computer to be a “computer for the masses, not the classes” 3 . This was a significant shift in mindset from previous computer manufacturers because previously most computers were incredibly expensive. The price of the Commodore 64 was only one factor of its success, the second was the way that the computer was marketed. It was sold not just in computer specific stores, but also in retail stores like Kmart and Sears. With over ten thousand individual programs made specifically for the Commodore 64 someone with no prior knowledge would be able to jump in and start using the system on day one with no extra classes or teachings 4 . This made it ideal for working professionals doing complex calculations, and the everyday user just looking to play games, or do some word processing. Overall the Commodore 64 was the first of its kind in the world of computing and was an integral step in getting to where we are today. 

  1. "Commodore 64 - CHM Revolution," Computer History Museum [CHM], https://www.computerhistory.org/revolution/personal-computers/17/298/1179.

  2. Jack Rossen, “When the Commodore 64 Ruled Personal Computing,” Mental Floss, 26 July 2018, www.mentalfloss.com/article/551931/when-commodore-64-ruled-personal-computing.

  3.  “Jack Tramiel,” CHM, computerhistory.org/profile/jack-tramiel/.

  4. "Impact of the Commodore 64 : A 25th Anniversary Celebration, Lecture by Adam Chowaniec et al.," CHM, https://www.computerhistory.org/collections/catalog/102695068.4