header_holding

The Commodore 16 and plus/4 were the two machines with the unenviable task of following the mega-successful Commodore 64.

The plus/4, with its built in productivity software, was pitched against the Sinclair QL and targetted mainly at small businesses. The audience for the C16 was less clear, and the machine was widely criticised for being ill-concieved, over-priced and under-powered.

Besides the confusing market positioning, Commodore also managed to alienate and confuse many of their most loyal customers by making Commodore 16 and plus/4 accessories incompatible with earlier Commodore products. Several enterprising companies built up a cottage industry providing adaptors to allow the old-school Commodore C2N datacassette deck to connect to the Commodore 16.

Despite problems – not least confusion in the marketplace over where the plus/4 should be seen in relation to the Commodore 64 – the 16 and plus/4 built up a small but loyal following.

The Games

Many software companies expressed reservations about the C16 and plus/4 – especially as they lacked many of the features found in the older Commodore 64, such as standard joystick ports, hardware sprites and the 64’s excellent sound facilities. That said, a small number of British software companies released low-budget C16 titles. Most games were cut-down conversions from the Commodore 64 or slightly tarted-up versions of old Vic-20 games.

People

Jeff Minter released a couple of programs, including a version of his light synthesizer, Psychedelia. Not counting Mr. Minter (who, let’s face it, released software on just about every platform ever), the closest that the C16 had to a star programmer was Greg Duddle, who wrote a prolific number of clones of successful Spectrum and arcade games.

Romik Software (link to follow)
When you look back, it’s all too easy to focus on the big names software scene and forget about some of the smaller players. Romik were never going to win any awards for quality, but they supported a wide range of 8-bit computer formats and were a well-known during the early-to-mid 1980s.

Major events

1984
plus/4 launch price: £250
CBM16 launch price: £129.95

Emulators

Mac OS X

Content to follow
Aware of an emulator for this platform that we should mention? Let us know!

iOS

Content to follow
Aware of an emulator for this platform that we should mention? Let us know!

OUYA/Android

Content to follow
Aware of an emulator for this platform that we should mention? Let us know!

Features

Commodore plus/4

64K RAM
7501 CPU running between 0.89 and 1.76 MHz
121 colours
Highest resolution mode: 320×200
Built-in word processor, spreadsheet and database
Built-in TEDMON, a machine code monitor
Non-standard joystick ports
Funky cursor keys (clearly the star feature)

Commodore 16

As the plus/4, except with a miserly 16k of RAM and no built-in software
Black, Commodore 64/VIC-20 style case with grey keys

Commodore 116

Largely forgotten about today, the Commodore 116 was a Commodore 16 in a plus/4 case with rubber ‘chiclet’ style keys. The 116 was only sold in Germany.