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 firstname.lastname@example.org Thu May 9 23:16:36 1996
From: email@example.com (Paul Allen Panks)
Subject: RE: B128 huh?
Date: 8 May 1996 00:28:34 GMT
Organization: Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff AZ, USA
X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2]
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 -
- Commodore 64 - Went on to sell 20-25 million units, quite possibly the
best selling personal computer of all time. Mass-marketed.
- 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.
- Super PET - Don't know much about this machine, other than that it was
a supped up version of the PET.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Commodore MAX - Did not last long. Died along with the video game
craze. No one wanted another video game system. Computer revolution
So, Commodore's biggest successes and failures can be described as
- 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).
- 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).
- 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).
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Paul Allen Panks
2600: 182 5200: 5 7800: 18 INTV: 14 COLECOVISION: 3
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