Introduced in 1984
, it was probably thought of as an update for the same niche the Commodore VIC 20
held. It looked very much like a Commodore 64
in a charcoal case, though it was not a scaled-down version of the 64 but a different machine altogether.
- 16K RAM, expandable up to 64K
- 32K ROM
- A 7501 CPU, that is basically a 6502 with some added opcodes and a built-in I/O port
- Dual clock rate of 0.89 - 1.76 Mhz
- Commodore Basic v3.5
- A graphic and sound chip named TED that featured 40x25 text and 320x200 hi-res graphic and two simple sound channels
- 121 shades of color
- A CBM port to connect a floppy disk CBM 1551 and/or a printer, 2 joystick ports, TV video out, Monitor out, Cartridge port, Cassette port
- A handy reset button on the right side
The Commodore Plus/4
was basically the same machine in a different case with 64K on-board memory and 4 awful business programs held in ROM (like a spreadsheet, a word processor and something else). In fact the 16 and +4 were almost completely compatible.
Unfortunately the Commodore 16 was not compatible with either the VIC 20 or the Commodore 64. Though quite similar, it lacked the 64's much better video and audio capabilities and all ports were - by design - different, so that you could not connect a 64 joystick, Datassette or cartridge. It featured a better BASIC interpreter (it was nice to play with hi-res graphics!) but it never was a successful model. Being incompatible with the 64 and the VIC, there was not so much software around for it.
I had my Commodore 16 for Christmas 1984. It was my first computer, and it was terrific. I remember the moment I plugged it into my TV and the "CBM BASIC V3.5" screen appeared and I could start typing in. It was a dream come true, kind of. I still remind the Christmas tree and the amber light all around and everybody trying to understand how this "computer" thing worked.
I played for over three years with it (first with Basic, then with assembler thanks to a handy assembler-disassembler-monitor tool that was available on ROM) and then I bought a Commodore 64. I still own it, somewhere in the garage.