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C > COMMODORE  > C16


Commodore
C16

Interesting information from Taneli Lukka (Finland):
The C=16 is a machine that should have never been released. When you look at the specs it doesn't look like a bad machine for its time, but in reality the design and time of release were both huge mistakes.

The machine was designed to replace the cheap range Commodore computer, the VIC-20, but in reality the high-range computer, C=64, had already taken VIC's place in common households despite the higher price so there was no room left for the C=16 or Plus/4 for that matter. C=116 barely made it out the factory and can be considered very rare today.

Marketing was also very bad, at least here in Finland. Soon after the machine's release, Finnish computer magazines were full of readers letters asking why their new C=16 wouldn't load VIC-20 and C=64 programs and games and why  the peripherals didn't fit either. Even the computer store sellers were not aware of the differences between the machines. Advertising didn't start until long after release and was far from good.

For some reason Commodore wanted to make this range of computers as incompatible as possible: the machine doesn't really obey a single standard, not even Commodore's own. The cassette player is diffirent giving digital signals instead of analog and is coloured in black. Some of these seem to have been converted to normal C2N-model players when the machine bombed. Joysticks were not Atari standard, but had special DIN-sockets so that only Commodore's crappy joystick could be used, this was just crazy, because in 1984 the Atari standard was already the one and only to go for. Disk drive is the only peripheral that was the same for all C= machines, but the C=16 also was given a new drive in a black case that was faster than the ultra-slow 1541-model, but most people only ever saw it on the pages of the machines user manual, it was released in very small quantities mainly in the UK. Most people used the 1541 instead.

This line of computers, C=116, C=16 and Plus/4 were the first Commodore computers to fail miserably and they were later joined by the C=64GS and C=128.

Richard Headley from Australia adds:
The C16 retailed for only $70 Australian in a time when the C64 was $400+ Australian (1985). Due to the flop of sales, it was barely impossible to purchase peripherals such as the tape drive or disk drive listed in the manual. One alternative was that the cartridge slot was had pretty much the same pin out as an Atari 2600 games console, and a 'small' basic program (Small being less than 1000 lines) could launch it away to run in BASIC 3.5 - just so long as you had enough RAM left for it to even start.

About the Austrlian version, Lewin Edwards specifies:
This computer was introduced in Australia already at a closeout price of AUD$129 (approximately US$75 at the time), in a pack that included one joystick, the "Jack Attack" cartridge, and a cyan sports bag with white piping and the C= logo printed in white on the side. The bag was big enough to hold the whole system; I guess the rationale was that you would take it to your friends' houses to play games together.

Carlos Perez-Chavez from Mexico remembers:
I am from Mexico City, here the first home computers were from Commodore...
In the early eighties a company named Sigma Commodore started selling these machines and a local supermarket chain named Aurrera started selling them in all their stores. So thousands of Mexico City inhabitants knew computers for the first time at Aurrera stores.
The wonderful thing was that at Aurrera you could use the computer as much as you wanted to. The first time I saw one I was buying some food and there I found a friend from school. He told me that there were computers on display and he showed me a Commmodore C16. The first computer game I used was "nibbles". I spend almost two hours playing.
The next day I got there early and discovered that you could program the computers by using a "language" called "BASIC" (I knew nothing about computers, we were all learning everything on the fly). In the book department you could find a couple of books about BASIC and the C16.
That day I found my then best friend trying to make a program. We spent the whole day learning about commands, syntax, languages, BASIC and stuff.
We were not the only boys there. Everyday you could find many curious boys (and some girls) trying their luck with "nibbles" and "BASIC".
The programming passion got me there. My friend and I learned fast about programming and everyday we tried something new. The C16 for display did not have a diskette drive so we had to learn our programs and write them from memory every time we wanted to use them. We developed a "nibbles" clone for two players. The day that my friend was out of town for holiday I developed my frist IA program: the computer played nibbles against me!
This experience was shared by many lucky boys that could afford to have a C16 at home but that came to the store to meet other computer enthusiasts. The ones that could not afford a home computer were there everyday to use them at the store!
So, later when the IBM PC arrived many of us were veterans of personal computers.





 
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