Early Commodore 64 production and production engineering

An early silver-label Commodore 64

This is primarily intended to be a photo gallery post, but I’m including a small amount of historical information so the origins of this system and where it fits in the overall c64 timeline are fully understood.

Commodore Japan Limited (CJL) and their role with the VIC-20

Before we talk about the early production history of the c64, it provides good context to take a step back in history to the VIC-1001. Commodore Japan Limited (CJL) was instrumental in the production engineering for the VIC-1001. CJL had taken the original CBM design, modified it as necessary and moved it into mass production for Commodore. The initial VIC-1001s were assembled and tested by Japanese Cash Register, a subcontractor to Commodore. In order to release the VIC-1001 to US and European markets, CJL worked with CBM engineers to make the necessary revisions and prepared to move the VIC-1001, renamed to VIC-20 into production. The initial production runs of the VIC-20 were manufactured by Shinwa Electric Company in Japan and then later also by Japanese Cash Register.

Early production of the Commodore 64

When Commodore subsequently designed and began to manufacture the famous Commodore 64, production initially began at an assembly line in Santa Clara, CA (USA), but was hindered by low yield and poor quality of product so a limited number of machines were produced on this assembly line. In light of CJL’s demonstrated expertise in the area of production engineering with the VIC-20, Commodore shifted responsibility for C64 production to CJL in the fall of 1982.
CJL acquired a company named Kentron in October of 1982. Kentron was located in Ina, Japan and had significant experience in production engineering and quality control. Kentron worked to redesign the C64 for mass production and began to produce prototypes in late 1982. Mass production began at Kentron in January, 1983.

Commodore 64 Serial #S00001450 beauty shots

This particular C64 has serial number S00001450. The ‘S’ designates the Santa Clara assembly line. According to Pete Rittwage of the c64 Preservation Project, the initial serial number was S00001000 which would have made this machine the 450th off the initial Santa Clara assembly line.

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