C= commodore 64

Commodore History

This section contains articles about Commodore's history. You will also find something about it by taking a look at my picture gallery, Machines section.

Some less known models

From pap@dana.ucc.nau.edu Thu May  9 23:16:36 1996
From: pap@dana.ucc.nau.edu (Paul Allen Panks)
Subject: RE: B128 huh?
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Date: 8 May 1996 00:28:34 GMT
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Basically, the B128 was a Commodore 128, with a few notable exceptions (lack of color being one of them). The B128 was one of 5 machines Commodore unveiled at the Summer Consumer Electronics Show in May 1982 -

  1. Commodore 64 - Went on to sell 20-25 million units, quite possibly the best selling personal computer of all time. Mass-marketed.
  2. Commodore MAX - Basically a stripped down version of the C64, without Keyboard. Meant to be a video game machine, in direct competition, I would guess, with the Atari 2600 which was popular at the time.
  3. Super PET - Don't know much about this machine, other than that it was a supped up version of the PET.
  4. Commodore B128 - 128K RAM,80 columns, could be hooked up to a 1 meg. disk drive (8050 I believe the drive number was), little or no color (don't remember if it was just monochrome or not), essentially the same Basic 7.0 that appeared in the C128, exceptions being lack of sprite commands (no VIC chip anyway to support them) but it had all of the Basic 2.0 commands, and Basic 4.0 Disk Drive commands. Sold approx. 15,000 units, mostly over in Europe. An old article in Compute!'s Gazette (Simple Answers to Common Questions -- 1985 issue, forget the exact issue but I know I have it...will look it up for you when I have time) detailed the specs and such on it as well as its (short) history.
  5. Commodore B256 - A B128 with 128K extra-RAM on-board. Meant as a business style computer, with keyboard layout similar to the B128, which in turn was almost identical to the C128.

The B128 was aimed at an entirely different audience than the Vic-20 or PET series of computers were at the time, and this was even before Commodore reaped the benefits of the C64's success.

As a business-style computer, it was well-equipped but far too expensive for most computer owners/potential buyers. It is my guess that only businesses invested in the B128, but the success of the IBM PC in the business world made computers such as the B128 and Super PET obsolete, if they weren't already.

You are right, the Commodore 128 was based almost entirely on the existing B128's design, with only a few modifications thrown in. This was a very good money saving scheme that CBM used, but saving face from the Plus/4 and Commodore 16 debacle was a necessary move.

When you consider that Commodore achieved then-record sales of over $500 million on all of their microcomputers combined, the break down was something as follows:

  1. Vic-20 - Out-sold the Commodore 64 for a several months before the hardware shortage and software famine that plagued it disappeared in late-1983. Much of the problem was a shortage of 1541 disk drives, and even then failure rates were much too high to be acceptable. The no-questions exchange program that CBM set up saved them millions of dollars in potential losses.
  2. Commodore 64 - A close second to the Vic-20 in 1983 sales, but eventually took the lead in late-1983 as Vic-20 sales plummeted to earth. The hardware shortage was fixed by 1984, and software began flooding in -- a much needed breathe of fresh air for CBM.
  3. PET/CBM - The PET series of microcomputers continued to sell exceptionally well, but started to drop off dramatically towards the end of 1983. The introduction of the C64, as well as the continued success of the Vic-20 as an introductary level personal computer spelled doom for the PET/CBM line of computers. Competition from IBM didn't help matters either.
  4. B-Series - Commodore's worst seller. Lack of distribution networks killed it, as did its poor showing in the business world. PET fared better because it had time to carve out a niche. Very poor timing for a very-well equipped machine.
  5. Commodore MAX - Did not last long. Died along with the video game craze. No one wanted another video game system. Computer revolution killed it.

So, Commodore's biggest successes and failures can be described as follows:


  1. Commodore 64 - Best selling personal computer of all time. Over 10,000+ programs were written for it, both commerically and in public domain circles. Sold between 20-25 million units during its remarkable lifetime (1982-1992).
  2. Commodore 128 - Could have been far more successful than it turned out, but was an exceptional computer selling at a ridiculously low price. Full-fledged personal/business computer, and 100% C-64 compatible. Sold over 4 million units during its lifetime (1985-1989).
  3. Vic-20 - Very popular micro-computer with alot going for it. Excellent computer for the home, and good at playing games. Sold over 2½ million units during its lifetime (1980-1984).


  1. Commodore Amiga - Here's why: Commodore took an ingeniously designed personal computer with the potential to become the best selling personal computer of all time, and turned around and made it a marketing failure. The Amiga, without doubt, should have blown away the competition and forced IBM and Apple to rethink their position in the home computer market. The technology was there, the software was there, but not the support. And that's what killed it. Sold over 4 million units in various brands (A500,A1000,A2000,A3000,etc) during its lifetime (1985-1994).

    Escom plans to reintroduce the Amiga line of computers sometime in 1996, if they haven't done so already

  2. Commodore Plus/4 and 16 - Billed as the "Productivity" machine and "The Learning" machine, respectively, both these computers turned out to be tremendous flops. The huge departure these machines took from the enormously successful Commodore 64-line killed them. If not for the lack of Amiga support, these computers certainly would have been Commodore's greatest failure.
  3. Commodore B-series (B128,B256,B720, etc.) - Introduced as business-style computers, they failed for a number of reasons, but mostly because of their high price tag (over $1700 originally). Competition from other companies also killed this line off.
... Regards,
Paul Allen Panks
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Marko Mäkelä (Marko.Makela@HUT.FI)