At the 1983 (or was it 84?) C.E.S., Commodore showed off a new line of computers to follow up the Commodore 64. They sported a new wonder chip-- the TED (Text Editing Device). The C116 would be the low end of this spectrum, having about 12K of memory. The C264 and V364 would have built in software, 64k of memory, and the V364 would have speech synthesis built in. Of these machines, only the C116 was released in Europe, though it was also morphed into the C16 for American consumers. The C264 became the Plus/4, while the V364 was never released.
There has been much speculation as to the reason Commodore released these machines. They lack compatibility with the C64, an immensely popular machine. They lack the sound and video capabilities of the C64. They *do* have a faster processor and a larger color pallette, and the Plus/4 has built-in software, but this was not quite enough. Well! The answer, according to Commodore engineers, was price! The 264 series machines were originally slated to cost under $100.00, in some cases as little as $49.00, putting them well out of the C64s target price range. Confusion at Commodore following the loss of founder Jack Tramiel resulted in a refusal to follow up on this workable marketing plan.
The low end members of the 264 series are the Commodore 16 and the Commodore 116. Of all the machines showcased at the C.E.S., the C116 was the only model to make it to store shelves as originally designed; though it was only in Europe, and in very small numbers. The picture to the left here is of the Commodore 116, with a spoon in front of it to show just how tiny it really is.
The Commodore 116 was originally slated to be the only machine in this series, and was designed by engineers at Commodore-US. The Commodore 16, shown above, was adapted later from 116 designs by engineers at Commodore-Japan. The C16 was meant to be a replacement for the VIC-20, which had been discontinued a few months before. Compared to the VIC, it is indeed an impressive upgrade. 16K to the VICs 3.5K, better video graphics, and full compatibility with VIC peripherals. Had Commodore kept their original plan of marketing these machines in the $49.00 price range, sales might have been quite impressive.
Personal Note: The Commodore 16 came from an eBay auction, while the C116 came from a German computer shop. The 116's keyboard is extremely hard to type on, making it my least favorite "tinkering" machine. However, I also have a 116 with 64k of memory, which was perfect for a little PAL "demo" viewing spree I went on shortly after receiving it.
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