Commodore History


This section contains articles about Commodore's history.

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?
Newsgroups: comp.sys.cbm
Date: 8 May 1996 00:28:34 GMT
Organization: Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff AZ, USA
Lines: 133
Message-ID: <4mopri$dnn@ruby.ucc.nau.edu>
NNTP-Posting-Host: dana.ucc.nau.edu
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