The direct successor to the Commodore 64, the Commodore 128 computer was released in 1985, three years after the C64.
About The Commodore 128
One of its key features is backward compatibility with most C64 software. Not able to natively run C64 software from its own ROM, you can easily switch between modes. This is achieved by simply holding down the Commodore key when you boot the system.
As its name suggests, the system comes with 128k of RAM. It is powered by the MOS 8502 processor which runs up to 2.04mhz. This is supplemented by a Zilog Z80, enabling the system to run the CP/M operating system.
The Commodore 128 computer is technically superior to the C64. However, this contributed to its short life. Its increased price over the established C64 did not deliver much-improved gaming experiences. Since the C64 was already Commodore’s leading gaming system, customers did not see any value in the more expensive system. Especially since the C128 provided backward compatibility, customers just ended up buying the C64C rather than the C128.
Later in 1985, Commodore released the C128D, a Commodore 128 in a desktop base unit that included a disk drive.
This is the last 8-Bit system Commodore developed (excluding the C64GS). The company was now moving into the 16-Bit era with the Amiga.
Many peripherals designed for the Commodore 64 are compatible with the Commodore 128, thanks to its backwards compatibility mode. One of the most popular was the Commodore Datasette 1530, an absolute necessity for typical C64 users to be able to load software, but can also be used with the C128 so the wide range of C64 software can be used on the Commodore 128.
About The Commodore 128D
Commodore released the redesigned version of the Commodore 128D in Europe in late 1985. Undergoing a complete overhaul, the Commodore 128D closely resembled the recently launched Amiga 1000.
Featuring a 1571 disk drive built into the main chassis (which came complete with a carrying handle on the side (Nintendo GameCube eat your heart out!). The Commodore 128D clearly was positioned as a more professional-looking counterpart to its desktop home computer form factor.
North America benefitted from the Commodore 128D in 1986, but their version was named the C128DCR, meaning ‘Cost Reduced’. This can be attributed to its steel chassis (with no carrying handle!).
Best Commodore 128 Emulator
Well-known C64 emulator VICE also provides probably the best Commodore 128 emulator too, called x128.
VICE as mentioned above also emulates a range of other Commodore systems including the C64, VIC20, PET, PLUS4, and CBM-II, so there’s plenty of additional fun to be had here! VICE really is the standard when it comes to Commodore’s early machines.
VICE Commodore 128 Emulator Features Include:
- Complete internal MMU emulation
- VDC screen (80 columns)
- Fast IEC bus emulation
- 2 MHz mode
- Z80 emulation
- All the features of C64 emulation
- CRT screen emulation complete with adjustable scanline brightness, gamma, tint & blue settings
- Snapshot save states
- All of the versatility of the VICE emulator that it offers with the C64
Find A Commodore 128 For Sale
Find the best Commodore 128 eBay listings here. Save time when looking for a Commodore 128 for sale. We’ve collated the latest Commodore 128 eBay listings that are available to buy now.
Best Commodore 128 Games
Most games enjoyed on the Commodore 128 tended to be simply C64 games. However, there are a few that benefited from the additional capacity of the C128. Ultima V and Elite are two games worth taking a look at in particular if you are looking for examples of games that utilised the system to its fuller capacity.
A lifelong avid gamer and computing enthusiast, Matt has decades of experience in the field, so producing retro orientated content for How To Retro comes is second nature to him. Now over 40 years old, Matt now even considers himself retro, but fortunately, nobody has developed a Matt emulator (not yet at least!).