Commodore 1702 monitor

The Commodore 1702 was a popular monitor designed for and marketed with the Commodore 64 in the early 1980s. While this is just my opinion, I think it was the best monitor Commodore ever sold.

The Commodore 1702 was a composite monitor that handled both standard composite and what we now call S-Video. Its gray-beige color matched the original breadbin-style Commodore 64 and 1541 disk drive.

Commodore 1702 overview

Commodore 1702
A Commodore 1702, along with a C-64 and one or two 1541 drives completes a classic retro computing setup.

The 1702 is a 13-inch monitor with composite inputs on the front and separated composite inputs on the back. A sliding switch on the back of the monitor determined which input was active. Using the separated composite input provided a clearer signal. The 1702 has a flip-down panel on the front that covers the knobs for adjustments and the volume. This panel was fragile and is often missing today. If your 1702 still has its panel, secure it with a piece of tape while transporting it to protect the panel from damage. Some hobbyists have 3D printed replacements, though painting one to match the original RAL 1019 color is tricky. You can order RAL 1019 spray cans from some specialty suppliers. If you want something from your local hardware store, Krylon Fusion Satin Khaki looks fairly close.

The 1702 works with any computer with a composite input, including the 64, VIC-20, Plus/4, 16, 128, and Amiga 1200, and other Amigas using an Amiga 520 adapter.

You can use a 1702 with two computers by plugging one into the front inputs and one into the back inputs, and toggle between the two with the switch.

The 1702’s OEM

Krylon Fusion Satin Khaki may be slightly dark but a color like this is your best bet for matching Commodore breadbin-era equipment.

JVC manufactured the 1702 for Commodore, and there is a very similar looking JVC-branded monitor that turns up from time to time. I found the 1702 more reliable than later Commodore monitors, which were prone to develop problems with their flyback transformer or solder joints after a few years of use.

Common setups

The classic setup that most people remember is a breadbin-style Commodore 64, one or two 1541 drives, and a 1702. Large retailers frequently bundled the three during the early to mid 1980s. If your 1702 is missing cables, Commodore composite cables are still available. Cables with RCA plugs are standard composite. Cables with three plugs are separated composite.

Commodore released a black monitor it dubbed the 1802 to match the Plus/4 and 16, though functionally there was no advantage. In 1986 when Commodore changed the 64 and its peripherals to a lighter color, it replaced the 1702 with a light beige 1802 model.

The 1702 was fairly expensive, at around $249, so it wasn’t uncommon for households to use a TV for a monitor instead, even though the 1702 provided a much better picture. Many 1702s survive today because the monitor was so versatile and rugged.

Commodore 1702 vs 1701

The 1702 looks just like its predecessor, the 1701, and functionally they are identical. The difference between the two monitors is simple. The 1702 has a switching power supply and the 1701 has a traditional power supply. This means the 1702 is lighter and more efficient. Otherwise you won’t notice the difference between the two.

Using the 1701 or 1702 with the Commodore 128

Although Commodore didn’t document this, you could use a 1701 or 1702 with the Commodore 128’s 80-column display. The trick was to use or make a monochrome cable that connected pin 7 to the center pin of an RCA connector and pin 1 to the shield. It didn’t display color, but the signal was clear enough to be usable.

The popular computer magazines of the time published instructions on making the cable soon after the 128’s release. And it wasn’t long before Commodore dealers started carrying the cable.

Most 128 owners would plug the 80-column output into the front of the monitor and connect the 40-column output to the back, then use the switch on the back of the monitor to toggle between the 40- and 80-column outputs.

Using the 1701 or 1702 with other computers and game consoles

The 1701 and 1702 work well with game consoles with a composite output. Although the screen is small, it was very clear for its time. It works exactly as well with consoles at it does with a C-64. The 1701 and 1702 monitors also work well with any other computer with a composite output. In the 80s I don’t know how many Apple and Atari owners were willing to buy something with a Commodore logo on it and plug their computers into it, but it’s a good choice today.

I used a 1702 for years as a video editing monitor. Later I used it as a television by plugging it into a DTV converter box.

Selling a Commodore 1702 today

If you have a Commodore 1702 and want to sell it, your best bet is to try to sell locally, as CRTs are difficult and expensive to ship. If you don’t pack it properly, it probably won’t survive in the mail. Originally when these were sold, they were packed in boxes with about two inches of foam on all sides to protect it. You can expect to get $100 for a working 1702, or more if it’s in nice condition. If you still have the original box and any of the original paperwork somehow, include it. A collector will probably be willing to pay a premium for that.

If you don’t have a Commodore to plug into it for testing, plug a DVD player or anything else with a composite output into it to test and demonstrate the unit.

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