Commodore 16 / Plus 4

Vital Statistics

Introduced 1984
Retired: 1985
Price: $299 (Plus/4)
Quantity Sold: < 1,000,000
Countries: Worldwide
Dimensions: 406 x 203 x 76 mm (C16)
Weight: 350g
Ports: 2 mini-DIN joystick ports, cartridge port (different from C64), RF and composite video outs, serial port (for disk drives, printer etc), RS-232 User port (Plus/4 only), cassette port.
Usable RAM: 64K (Plus/4), 16K (C16)
Built-in ROM: 32K
Colours: TED chip produces 121 colours (16 colours, 8 intensity levels per colour)
Graphics: 320x192, 40x24 text mode
Sound: TED chip produces 2 voice channels + 1 noise channel
Built-in Language: BASIC v3.5
Clones: -

Technical Details ...

What's it like today?

Fun Factor: 2/5
Geek Factor:
Model/Rarity/Price (Poor - BNIB/Mint):
Commodore 16 £20-£80
Commodore Plus/4 £25-£80
Commodore 116 £80-£150


The Plus/4
The Plus/4 came after the VIC-20 and the Commodore 64 (about 1984), and is not software-compatible with either of those computers, although it does share some hardware compatibility.Previously called the "264" and later renamed to "Plus/4", this new family of computers (also including the C116, C232 and C364) were supposed to strike at the extremely successful Sinclair computers.

The Commodore 232 was to be a 264 (Plus/4) with half the RAM, and the Commodore 364 was to be a 264 (Plus/4) with built-in speech capability (over 250 words), a 64K ROM and a 19-key numeric keypad. Both of these machines were never released - Commodore instead decided to keep just the C116 (later called the 16) and C264 (Plus/4).

Unfortunately, Commodore failed to notice that they would also be competing against their own very successful computer, the Commodore 64. Eventually, only two of this family made it into production - the C16 and the Plus/4. The Plus/4 had some advantages over the C64: BASIC 3.5 has real graphics commands in it, and it used a dynamic ROM banking scheme, so you got nearly 64K in BASIC (this was later used on the Commodore 128).


The Commodore 16
The Commodore 16 was released after the Plus/4, as a cut-down version with just 16K of RAM and lacked the modem port and built-in office software of the Plus/4. It shared its keyboard and "bread bin" case style with the C64, but was intended as the replacement for the venerable VIC-20 as Commodore's entry-level home computer, which would put it up against other circa-$100 home computers including the Texas TI-99/4A, Timex-Sinclair TS1000 and Mattel's Aquarius. As it happens, Timex-Sinclair, Mattel, and TI all pulled out of the home computer market before the C16 was released. This computer turned out to be a huge failure, even more so than the Plus/4. Although both computers' BASIC interpreter (version 3.5) was far more advanced than that of the Commodore 64 (version 2.0), these machines turned to be big business failures, primarily because they weren't C64-compatible, had less attractive sound/graphic capabilities, and lacked compatibility with the VIC-20/C64 Datassette and game ports. While these machines had 121 colours, the lack of the great SID sound chip and hardware sprites made them a wrong choice for gamers. And the 3+1 built-in "business" software simply was not serious enough for work. The C16's memory could be expanded relatively easily up to 64K to bring it up to game-compatible spec with the Plus/4, enabling it to run Plus/4 games.


A slightly modified version of the Commodore 16, the Commodore 116, was released only in Europe in December 1984. This computer was essentially the same as a Commodore 16 inside (also with 16K of memory), but in a smaller case similar to that of the Plus/4 and with chicklet-style rubber keys. It was able to run all Commodore 16 software, and Plus/4 software if memory was expanded to 64K. The C116 was priced cheaper than even the Commodore 16 to try to attract newcomers to the budget home computing market. Commodore stopped sales of the 116 in 1985 after only 51,000 were produced. Approximately 44,000 of these were sold in Germany.

All computers in Commodore's 264-range used the same peripherals, which were different to the VIC-20 and C64 (although with adapters you could get them to work on the VIC and C64). The datasette model for the 264-range was VIC-1531, and the floppy disk drive was the VIC-1551.

By September 1986, the 264 line were in full liquidation, with the Plus/4 being sold for $79, with the 1541 floppy drives selling for $149 (down from their original price of $269), and printers selling for $119 (down from $200).


Using One Today

Making use of these computers today is made much easier through the use of the SD2IEC interface. SD2IEC emulates the basic functions of a Commodore 1541 floppy disk drive so you don't have to wear out your old original tapes and disks. Simply plug it into your Commodore's serial port, prepare an SD card with some menu software on it and you're ready to go! , It's as slow to load and save as the 1541 floppy drive, but does support fast loaders like JiffyDos, Final Cartridge III, TurboDisk and Epyx Fastload. It supports files in the following formats: D64, D81, D71, M2I, and PRG. Sadly it doesn't support tape image files, e.g. T64 or TAP. The device typically draws its power from the cassette interface port More info here.

Commodore 16 & Plus/4 News

21 August 2019New shooter, Alpharay from Psytronik

Psytronik Software have announced that pre-orders for the commercial release of ALPHARAY, their incredible new release for the Commodore Plus/4 and expanded Commodore 16 home computer, will be open this Sunday.

Developed by the team that brought us Pets Rescue for the Plus 4, ALPHARAY is a visually impressive horizontal scrolling shoot ’em up that sees you power-up your Alpharay fighter with the objective to destroy the enemy robot fleet that is invading your home system. The game features six graphically gorgeous levels to battle through, a power-up weapon system and a great soundtrack driving the action gameplay all along the way.

To find out more about ALPHARAY, head on over to the games news page over at Psytronik Software. Also, be sure to check out the game trailer.

20 August 2019Commodore 16 Repair by Jan Beta

If you are into old computers, particularly Commodore, you will have heard of Jan Beta.

Jan has a fantastic YouTube channel with many informative videos, discussing repair of Vintage Computers and Electronics. His latest offering specifically stood out for me, being a big C16/Plus/4 fan. Jan has acquired not just one, but four Commodore 16 computers, all of which are in dire need of repair. If you are familiar with C16 and Plus/4 computers, you will know that the most common failure is a dead CPU or TED chip. Check out Jans in depth video and don’t forget to visit his channel and subscribe.

18 May 2019Review of Pets Rescue for the C16 and Plus4

Why would anyone try to write a new video game for a system so patently unsuited to the task?

That’s a question which +4 All Stars, a band of plucky coders, graphicians and C16 fans, is best-placed to answer. The group released Pets Rescue for the Commodore 16 and Plus/4 just over a year ago, and it’s one of the most remarkable new retro titles to be released in recent times. VintageIsTheNewOld finally did a review of this game - go here to watch it!

11 April 2018Magic Blocks – A New Game for the Commodore Plus/4 and 128

Magic Blocks is a new game for the Commodore Plus/4 (also C16 with 64Kb) and the Commodore 128 where you play Archimedes, a sorcerer that needs to learn how to use the Magic Blocks to move around the mazes and find his way out.

Each of the 16 levels has different levels of difficulty with a different structure. In some rooms, you have to think very creatively to get the key. In others, you have to pay close attention to the time and the traps.

Although the game is programmed in BASIC, it is very fast, with a very well done character animation and sound effects. The download file includes the source code and the author asks for anyone that wants to provide changes or improvements to contact him via his website.

The game can be download via the author’s website. There is a separated version for the Plus/4 and C116 and another one for the C128. Both versions play exactly the same, but the C128 version shows a different set of colours.

...see more C16 and Plus/4 news...

This page was last updated on 10th January 2015