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Commodore C128 Journal

Published 10 October 2018

This is our tribute page to the much under-appreciated Commodore C128. The C128 was really three best-selling computers rolled into one low price. No wonder the market couldn't appreciate what it had to offer. Over the years, we have started to look past the noise and the nay-sayers to discover the real C128 as possibly the ultimate in retro-computing experience.


The Commodore 128 Personal Computer was one of the best value computers to appear in the 8-bit market. For under $300, buyers received access to the biggest pool of 8-bit games through near-perfect Commodore C64 capabilities and a massive business software market through CP/M capability whilst creating a new franchise for ultra-8bit capability. The way the computer did this was to physically build 3 computers into the one box. In the age of single-function compliances, it sure was confusing for people to make the purchase decision. The trouble was that building 3 computers in one box was expensive and Commodore could unleash a classic Jack-attack to lower the price. Commodore used to give unbelievable value using an entry price point that few competitors compete with.

Commodore 128 specific capabilities

The Commodore C64 was not perfect and there were many areas that could be considerably improved. We explore our frustrations about the Commodore C64 in our C64 Journal.

1   Speed - this machine is fast for 8-bit computers, running at a processor clock speed of 2MHz, around twice as fast as the Commodore C64. And as we know at the dawn of the digital age, speed is everything.

2   Advanced BASIC - Retro fans of programming will enjoy the more usable functionality and supports structured programming. Busines graphics functions and decent disk commands makes the Commodore BASIC v7.0 a usable daily driver. There are 140 commands, operations and functions in this new version of basic. For the real retro-nerds, the screen editor lets users enter program lines up to 160 characters long, twice as long as the 80 character limitation of the C64.

3   Built-in Machine Language Monitor - this is also another hidden benefit for retro-computer enthusiasts. If you are programming in machine language or want to perform some hardcore hacking then this Machine Language Monitor is essential. A bit of research reveals that the Commodore has gone back to its roots with this one. The Commodore PET had a well regarded monitor but then the Commodore engineers dropeed this feature in the VIC-20 and then the C64 to claw back some valuable resources.

4   Better physical layout - Taking feedback from previous users, the C128 comes with increased and expandable memory, and improved keyboard with a numerical keypad.

5   Data Transfer Speeds - forget about having your nap when loading the next 8-bit mega-hit. Disk drive transfer speeds are now tolerable, and dare we say it, probably usable day-to-day as well.

6   80-column mode - well this is only half a benefit as there are two modes available, 40- and 80-column modes. The 80-column mode is not usable for gaming or multimedia applications as it does not have sprites nor raster interupt capability. That is the downside but looking beyond that, there is plenty of potential for hacking to be had. Programs can display both 40- and 80-character modes at the same time in what is now called a dual-monitor set up. Apparently, it's even possible to obtain a super-wide 132-column display.

Articles on the Commodore C128

Commodore C128 Advert

Commodore C128
Royal Warrant

Commodore C64 & C128 8 bit fonts

Commodore C64 & C128
Truetype 8-bit Fonts

Commodore C128 article on Wikipedia

Commodore C128 description

Commodore 1581 Manuals and Books

Commodore 1581
Disk Drive

Best Commodore C128 Books

We have compiled what we think are the best books for the Commdore C128. As you see, most of the books covered their bases by mentioning the C64 and C128 but we don't care. There are lots of great projects to do on your C128.

SAMS Official book for the Commodore 128

SAMS official book
Commodore 128
(read online)

The Big Tip book for the Commodore 128

The Big Tip book
for the Commodore 128
(read online)

Book: Further Adventures On The Commodore C64 C128

Further Adventures
on the Commodore 128
(read online)

Notice: Books accessible on this page as (read online) are stored and served by and is not related to this website. Our links are provided for historical preservation purposes.

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