The Commodore 16 is a home computer made by Commodore International with a 6502-compatible 7501 or 8501 CPU, released in 1984 and intended to be an entry-level computer to replace the Commdore VIC-20. The C16 belongs to the same family as the higher-end Plus/4 and is internally very similar to it, though with less RAM - 16 instead of 64 KB - and lacking the Plus/4's user port, and Three plus one software. While the C16 was a failure on the US market, it enjoyed some success in certain European countries and Mexico. Outwardly the C16 resembles the VIC-20 and the Commodore 64, but with a dark-gray case and light-gray keys. The keyboard layout differs slightly from the earlier models, adding an escape key and four cursor keys replacing the shifted-key arrangement the C-64 and VIC inherited from the PET series. The C16 is much faster than the Commodore 64 and Commodore VIC-20; the processor runs at twice the speed (2.0 MHz), the screen memory is more efficient, and the BASIC interpreter is considerably faster.
The Commodore C16 was intended to compete with other sub-$100 computers from Timex Corporation, Mattel, and Texas Instruments (TI). Timex's and Mattel's computers were less expensive than the VIC-20, and although the VIC-20 offered better expandability, a full-travel keyboard, and in some cases more memory, the C16 offered a chance to improve upon those advantages. On paper, the C16 is a closer match for the TI-99/4A than the aging VIC-20.
Commodore president Jack Tramiel feared that one or more Japanese companies would introduce a consumer-oriented computer and undercut everyone's prices. Although Japanese companies would soon dominate the U.S. video game console market, their feared dominance of the home computer field never materialized. Additionally, Timex, Mattel, and TI departed the computer market before the Commodore C16 was released. The C16 has 16 KB of RAM with 12 KB available to its built-in BASIC interpreter, and a new sound and video chipset offering a palette of 121 colors, the TED (better than the VIC used in the VIC-20, but lacking the sprite capability of the VIC-II and advanced sound capabilities of the SID, both used in the Commdore 64).
The Commodore 16 was a major failure in the US, and was likely due to a lack of software support, incompatibility with the Commodore 64, and lack of importance to Commodore after its competitors withdrew from the market. The computer was discontinued within a year, but it sold reasonably well in Europe as a low-end game machine (over 90% of all C16 software was produced by European developers) and in Mexico as well. This failure in the US market was
A total of 1 million Plus/4s, C16s, and C116s were sold, with the latter two accounting for about 60% of its total volume.
[Source and more info: Wikipedia]
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