Inside the Commodore 64

This pioneering PC made instant geeks out of millions of people back in the '80s. But what lies within the Commodore 64's fetching brown shell?

Gentlemen, the VIC-II

The largest silver box on the motherboard--the one with the multiple ventilation holes, houses a large purple chip called the VIC-II (for "Video Interface Chip"). This chip handles all of the C64's graphics duties. The silver enclosure provides RF shielding and acts as a heat sink for the inordinately hot-running VIC-II.
The VIC-II chip, which was originally ceramic, was changed to plastic in later runs of the C64. Unfortunately, the plastic chips didn't conduct heat as well as the ceramic chips, and the VIC-II became a common point of failure in many C64 machines. It's one of several instances where cost-cutting measures hurt the good design and longevity of the Commodore 64.

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