The Commodore 128 home/personal computer was the last 8-bit machine commercially released by CBM (Commodore Business Machines). Introduced in 1985 at the CES in Las Vegas, it appeared three years after its predecessor, the bestselling C64. The primary hardware designer of the Commodore 128 was Bil Herd, who had previously been the design lead on the 264 series of computers such as the C116 and Plus 4. The C128 was a significantly expanded successor to the Commodore 64 and full compatibility with it was retained.
The new computer featured 128 KB of RAM, in two 64 KB banks and an 80-column RGBI video output (driven by the 8563 VDC chip with 16 KB dedicated video RAM), as well as a substantially redesigned case and keyboard, which included a numeric keypad. While the 128 still had a 40 column mode, an extra 1K of color RAM was made available to the programmer, as it was multiplexed through memory address 1.
The 128's power supply was vastly improved over the 64's unreliable design, being larger and equipped with cooling vents and a replaceable fuse. Instead of the single 6510 microprocessor of the C64, the C128 incorporated a two-CPU design.
The primary CPU, the 8502, was a slightly improved version of the 6510 capable of being clocked at 2 MHz. The second CPU was a Zilog Z80 which was used to run CP/M software, as well as to initiate operating mode selection at boot time. The two processors could not run concurrently, thus the C128 was not a multiprocessing system.
Late in 1985, Commodore released to the European market a new version of the C128 with a redesigned chassis resembling the Amiga 1000. Called the Commodore 128D, this new European model featured a plastic chassis with a carrying handle on the side, incorporated a 1571 disk drive into the main chassis, replaced the built-in keyboard with a detachable one, and added a cooling fan. The keyboard also featured two folding legs for changing the typing angle.
The C128 released in the United Kingdom on 25 July 1985, and in North America in November 1985.
Download here the Commodore C128D manual/system guide (PDF).
Looking for the instructions?
Download here the Commodore 128 manual (PDF).
What's your Commodore 128 worth in 2021? Here are some recently sold items.
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