Online "mini-FAQ"

The answers to the vast majority of often-asked questions can be found right here....

"Where can I sell the VIC-20 stuff I no longer want?"

"What is (random Vic20 item) worth?"

"Where can I buy more VIC-20 stuff?"

"How do I hook up my Vic20 computer system?"

"I have a game cartridge that does not work. How do I fix it?"

"Can I make my modern day computer play VIC-20 games?"

"How do I use the Internet's game programs on a real Vic20?"

Question "Where can I buy more VIC-20 stuff?"
Answer Where other people are selling it, of course! See the next question for a list of sale places.

If you are looking for items on a continuing basis, and you don't mind scrounging for used items, the main places most collectors find things locally is at thrift stores, flea markets and garage sales. Any places likely to have the contents of an attic or basement for sale is a potential hunting ground for "classic video game" items.
Question "Where can I sell the VIC-20 stuff that I no longer want?"
Answer You may want to check out "eBay" in particular. If you have access to Usenet newsgroups, two good ones for selling Vic20 items are  comp.sys.cbm  or; post a "for sale" message there.

At most of these places, you can "lurk" around, to view other items for sale, to get an idea of what they sell, where or how they sell it, and what prices items fetch.
Question "What is (random Vic20 item) worth?"
Answer Whatever someone will pay for it. No more, no less.

That may not sound like a helpful answer, but it really is. The "market" for items like this is literlly as varied as the individuals that make it up. What one person would pay for something may be nothing close to the price another would pay.

It will take some effort on your part to go to places that sell things and to look at what a similar item went for recently, when someone else sold it. For instance, the popular auction site "eBay" has a helpful link to sales in the last thirty days.

Remember that items vary widely. For instance, one game cartridge may fetch a certain price, while another will fetch a totally different price. Same with tapes. This is common for all the other "retrogaming" system's cartridge collections. It usually is a reflection of the perceived "rarity" of the item, in the case of games.

To make the most of what you have to offer, find out what the "hot" items are among your offerings, and try to sell (or trade?) those seperately if you can.

Whenever you are selling items that you are going to ship to another location, be aware of postal prices before you quote somebody a sale price. For instance, if you sell a Vic20 computer system, even from State to State in the US, shipping alone on that relatively heavy item may cost you $15 or $20 out of pocket. If you sell the system to someone for $20 flat fee, essentially, you'd be giving it away!
Question "How do I hook up my Vic20 computer system?"
Answer The most common hook-up problem is that you need either special video cables to hook a Vic20 to a monitor or an "RF adapter" for TV hook-up. (If you are buying a system, triple check up front to insure ALL such items are included!)

If you plan to use a TV set for your screen, be aware that the Vic20 "RF adapter" is NOT the same thing as a generic TV "game / computer" switch box. That type of box, when hooked up to a TV set, simply allows you to use the TV with two different sources; the TV antenna or the computer. The RF adapter supplied with the original VIC-20 system actually converts the VIC-20's (monitor only) video output to work with a television. Without it, TV output simply is NOT possible!
Question "Can I make my modern-day computer play VIC-20 games?"
Answer Yes. There are "software emulators" that allow you to do that.

Be aware that this is considered an advanced topic, not a beginner one. It will take work on your part to find an emulator that will work on your particular system, to get it all downloaded, un-zipped, and in working order. If you have any questions about anything you download, read the instructions that come with it.

There are a number of emulators out there. You may want to try more than one, to see which one you like best. (My personal favorite is "PC Vic".)
Question "How do I use the Internet's game programs on a real Vic20?"
Answer You have to be able to transfer program files between the computer you use as a web browser and your Commodore home computers. To do this you need both a special cable (there are several styles possible) and special software.

The best place I've found on the net for this type of thing is the "Star Commander" home page. They have the special software you need; it can be downloaded for free. They also have lots of technical instructions on what cable your particular system will need, and how to build that particular cable once you know what you need. (If you can't build such a cable by yourself, try asking about buying one on the comp.sys.cbm Usenet newsgroup or see the question on buying things.)
Question "I have a game cartridge that does not work. How do I fix it?"
Answer In the vast majority of cases, all that is wrong with it is that it needs to be cleaned.

Look at the cartridge. Where it plugs into the computer there are some stripes of metal. (These are called "contacts".) The computer has metal "fingers" that touch these contacts. If either of these metal surfaces are corroded or dirty, electricity will not be able to pass from the fingers to the contacts, so the cart will not work.

This is true for every game system ever made that uses software on cartridges. It is considered routine maintenance to keep all the contacts and fingers cleaned.

To clean a game cartridge's contacts, carefully wipe the contacts using a Q-tip dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Be gentle and take your time. Use lots of Q-tips if you have to. Getting years of grunge off will take some work. (This method is how most video game stores clean off their rental cartridges, by the way.)

Be absolutely sure all the fluids have evaporated, before plugging a cart  in! Any fluid that gets into the computer creates a danger of hurting the computer system.

If none of your cartridges work, clean the computer's cartridge port. If some carts do work, but others do not, clean the contacts on the cartridges that do not work.

All but a tiny percentage of cartridges can be brought back to life this way. There are more extreme methods, but this will get 99% of all cartridges working again.