Commodore 16 / Plus 4

Vital Statistics

Introduced 1984
Retired: 1985
Price: $299 (Plus/4)
Quantity Sold: < 1,000,000
Countries: Worldwide
Dimensions: 406 x 203 x 76 mm (C16)
Weight: 350g
Ports: 2 mini-DIN joystick ports, cartridge port (different from C64), RF and composite video outs, serial port (for disk drives, printer etc), RS-232 User port (Plus/4 only), cassette port.
Usable RAM: 64K (Plus/4), 16K (C16)
Built-in ROM: 32K
Colours: TED chip produces 121 colours (16 colours, 8 intensity levels per colour)
Graphics: 320x192, 40x24 text mode
Sound: TED chip produces 2 voice channels + 1 noise channel
Built-in Language: BASIC v3.5
Clones: -

Technical Details ...


What's it like today?


Fun Factor: 2/5
Geek Factor:
3/5
Model/Rarity/Price (Poor - BNIB/Mint):
Commodore 16 £20-£80
Commodore Plus/4 £25-£80
Commodore 116 £80-£150

 

The Plus/4
The Plus/4 came after the VIC-20 and the Commodore 64 (about 1984), and is not software-compatible with either of those computers, although it does share some hardware compatibility.Previously called the "264" and later renamed to "Plus/4", this new family of computers (also including the C16, C116, C232 and C364) were supposed to strike at the extremely successful Sinclair computers.

The Commodore 232 was to be a 264 (Plus/4) with half the RAM, and the Commodore 364 was to be a 264 (Plus/4) with built-in speech capability (over 250 words), a 64K ROM and a 19-key numeric keypad. Both of these machines were never released - Commodore instead decided to keep just the C116 (later called the 16) and C264 (Plus/4).

Unfortunately, Commodore failed to notice that they would also be competing against their own very successful computer, the Commodore 64. Eventually, only two of this family made it into production - the C16 and the Plus/4. The Plus/4 had some advantages over the C64: BASIC 3.5 has real graphics commands in it, and it used a dynamic ROM banking scheme, so you got nearly 64K in BASIC (this was later used on the Commodore 128).

 

The Commodore 16
The Commodore 16 was released after the Plus/4, as a cut-down version with just 16K of RAM and lacked the modem port and built-in office software of the Plus/4. It shared its keyboard and "bread bin" case style with the C64, but was intended as the replacement for the venerable VIC-20 as Commodore's entry-level home computer, which would put it up against other circa-$100 home computers including the Texas TI-99/4A, Timex-Sinclair TS1000 and Mattel's Aquarius. As it happens, Timex-Sinclair, Mattel, and TI all pulled out of the home computer market before the C16 was released. This computer turned out to be a huge failure, even more so than the Plus/4. Although both computers' BASIC interpreter (version 3.5) was far more advanced than that of the Commodore 64 (version 2.0), these machines turned to be big business failures, primarily because they weren't C64-compatible, had less attractive sound/graphic capabilities, and lacked compatibility with the VIC-20/C64 Datassette and game ports. While these machines had 121 colours, the lack of the great SID sound chip and hardware sprites made them a wrong choice for gamers. And the 3+1 built-in "business" software simply was not serious enough for work. The C16's memory could be expanded relatively easily up to 64K to bring it up to game-compatible spec with the Plus/4, enabling it to run Plus/4 games.

 

A slightly modified version of the Commodore 16, the Commodore 116, was released only in Europe in December 1984. This computer was essentially the same as a Commodore 16 inside (also with 16K of memory), but in a smaller case similar to that of the Plus/4 and with chicklet-style rubber keys. It was able to run all Commodore 16 software, and Plus/4 software if memory was expanded to 64K. The C116 was priced cheaper than even the Commodore 16 to try to attract newcomers to the budget home computing market. Commodore stopped sales of the 116 in 1985 after only 51,000 were produced. Approximately 44,000 of these were sold in Germany.

All computers in Commodore's 264-range used the same peripherals, which were different to the VIC-20 and C64 (although with adapters you could get them to work on the VIC and C64). The datasette model for the 264-range was VIC-1531, and the floppy disk drive was the VIC-1551.

By September 1986, the 264 line were in full liquidation, with the Plus/4 being sold for $79, with the 1541 floppy drives selling for $149 (down from their original price of $269), and printers selling for $119 (down from $200).

 

Using One Today

Making use of these computers today is made much easier through the use of the SD2IEC interface. SD2IEC emulates the basic functions of a Commodore 1541 floppy disk drive so you don't have to wear out your old original tapes and disks. Simply plug it into your Commodore's serial port, prepare an SD card with some menu software on it and you're ready to go! , It's as slow to load and save as the 1541 floppy drive, but does support fast loaders like JiffyDos, Final Cartridge III, TurboDisk and Epyx Fastload. It supports files in the following formats: D64, D81, D71, M2I, and PRG. Sadly it doesn't support tape image files, e.g. T64 or TAP. The device typically draws its power from the cassette interface port More info here.

Commodore 16 & Plus/4 News

16 June 2017YAPE 1.1.3 released

A new version of YAPE is available. YAPE is a Windows emulator for the Commodore Plus/4. The changes in this release are: Commodore 264 prototype, unlimited frame rate option, improvements for keyboard, TED and D64.

14 October 2016New game for C16 and Plus/4

264er_Fan just released his 4th game that runs on a C16/Plus4. Following Hitball and Brickhunter (released earlier this year), it’s his biggest effort so far. The gameplay is simple: run and pick up the bombs before the time runs out, and don’t get caught or hit any obstacles! Be sure to check it out and give it a spin!

You can download it either from the fantastic Plus/4 World site, or direct via this link.

14 September 2016Commodore Free Issue 94

Issue 94 of Commodore Free, the magazine dedicated to Commodore computers is now available for download. The magazine is available in the following formats; PDF, ePUB, MOBI, HTML, TXT, SEQ and D64 disk image.

For the latest news, editorial, reviews, adverts on new hardware and software, and helpful hints, visit the Commodore Free website.

17 August 2016Pentagram for the Plus/4!

This late Ultimate Play the Game title was originally ported from Z80 to the 6502 (Atari 800) by Mariusz Wojcieszek (mariuszw), and converted to the Plus/4 by Emu.

Pentagram is a new game for the Commodore Plus/4. In the game you must help Sabreman to find the lost Pentagram, an artifact of magical power. The game also has support for a SID card. Additional music has been created by Saul Cross.

You can download the game and the source source from fantastic Plus/4 site, Commodore Plus/4 World.

...see more C16 and Plus/4 news...

This page was last updated on 10th January 2015