Commodore C16

Published: June 28, 2021
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The Commodore C16 is a home computer made by Commodore International released in 1984 and intended to replace the VIC-20. Often reffered to as the C64’s ‘baby brother’, the C16 was a good entry-level machine in the mid-1980s. An enhanced BASIC with built-in commands for graphics and sound made programming easier. It had the same characteristics as the Commodore Plus/4 : same graphic resolution, same sound system, same CPU and speed, though with less RAM (16 instead of 64 Kb.) and lacking the user port, and Three plus one software. With two-channel sound and a palette of up to 121 colours, several well-known programmers worked wonders with the machine. The computer was intended to compete with other sub-$100 computers from Timex Corporation, Mattel, and Texas Instruments. Timex's and Mattel's computers were less expensive than the VIC-20, and although the latter offered better expandability, a full-travel keyboard, and in some cases more memory, the C16 offered a chance to improve upon those advantages. It was a failure on the US market, but enjoyed some success in certain European countries and Mexico.

commodore c16 for sale

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.

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 C16 was released.

Like said, the Commodore C16 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.

Four popular C16 games were:

  • Tutti Frutti
  • Tom Thumb
  • Monty On The Run
  • Trailblazer

A total of 1 million Plus/4s, C16s, and C116s were sold, with the latter two accounting for about 60% of its total volume.

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Commodore C16 value and price guide

What's your Commodore C16 worth in 2022? Here are some recently sold items with prices.

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