Dan Bowman kindly pointed me to former Commodore engineer Bil Herd’s discussion of the ill-fated Commodore TED machines on Hackaday. Here in the States, few remember the TED specifically, but some people may remember that oddball Commodore Plus 4 that closeout companies sold for $79 in 1985 and 1986. The Commodore Plus 4 was one of those TED machines. So was the Commodore 16.
What went wrong with those machines? Commodore miscalculated what the home computer market was doing. The TED was a solution to too many problems, and ended up not solving any of them all that well. Arguably it’s more popular with vintage computer enthusiasts today than it was in the 1980s. Read more
Retro computing fans, especially Commodore and Atari enthusiasts, all know the story. Jack Tramiel left Commodore, the company he founded, in early 1984 at the height of its success. Then, within a few months, he gained control of Commodore rival Atari.
The C-64 sort of turns 30 this week. It was introduced 30 years ago this week, though it wasn’t until August or so that you could actually buy one. It took that long for memory prices to come down to reach the target price, and if memory serves, the machine they displayed at CES in January wasn’t quite production-ready anyway.
I remember the machine well. It was my first computer. It seems like just yesterday the thing turned 25. And not all that long ago that I still used one on a regular basis.
I thought I was recovered. But I don’t think you ever recover. Not really.
You see, this week I was trolling Craigslist for garage sales. I look for trains, toys for my boys, and other things that strike my fancy. I spotted a sale that advertised an Amiga computer. I shouldn’t have put it on my list, but I did. I didn’t want to buy it, but I had to see it. I had to. Like I said, you don’t recover.
Best Buy has about a quarter-million unsold tablets in their warehouse and has only managed to sell 25,000 of them. And when Woot ran a special on them, selling them for $120 off, they sold a whopping 612 of them.
I grew up on the Commodore 128. We got one for Christmas 1985 (an upgrade from a Commodore 64). It was a bit of a quirky machine, but I liked it.
On the retro computing forums, it might be the most controversial thing Commodore ever did. Which says something, seeing as some computer historians have summed up Commodore’s history in four words: Irving Gould‘s stock scam. But that’s another story.
The cool thing about Commodore was that its engineers weren’t shy about talking about their projects. Bil Herd, Fred Bowen, and Dave Haynie have all weighed in over the years, talking about what they did and why and what they would have done differently.