Commodore Plus 4
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The Commodore Plus/4 was a home computer released in 1984 The "Plus/4" name refers to the four-application ROM resident office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, database, and graphing); it was billed as "the productivity computer with software built-in". It had some success in Eastern Europe, after it had failed in Western Europe.
It was a total flop in the United States, where it was derided as the "Minus/60"—a pun on the difference between the Plus/4 and the dominant Commodore 64.
The original idea of the 264 series was to provide Commodore with a cheap alternative to other machines already on the market such as the Timex Sinclair range. Jack Tramiel wanted a slice of the budget market, as he was sure the Japanese companies were going to destroy the American home computer market, as they had the audio and video ones.
The initial machine was the C116, supposed to he sold for less than $50, with a small case, and rubber keyboard, less than 50,000 were sold mainly in Germany, before it was replaced by the C16.
Then after a rethink, along with the new C16, there were going to be two machines, the 232 and 264, the former had 32k of memory and was shelved before full production, while the latter became the Plus 4. According to one of the designers Bil Herd, it was a fight between the design team and the marketing department of the company - the price was raised above that of the C64, and with some already out of date office software added, this all but doomed the machine. Most were sold off cheaply to eastern European countries such as Hungary, where there is now a vibrant homebrew scene, converting many C64 classics to the Plus 4, and still producing high quality gaming software to this day,
Prototypes of a top of the range model, the V364, were also produced, just one complete machine was built, looking like a giant Plus 4 with added numerical keyboard, as well as a voice synthesis unit that could recognise 230 words. It was shown in the hands of Jack Tramiel at the 1983 C.E.S show, along with the 264.
A YouTube video of a working V364 board once belonging to Bil Herd can be seen, and two other machines exist in very brittle plastic cases.
The 264 series was a victim of timing, the expected influx of cheap Japanese micros did not materialise, and also Jack Tramiel who had been instrumental in the vision behind the series had been ejected from the Commodore board, this left the wrong people in charge of bringing the models to market, and instead of being cheap business machines, the 264 and 364 were scrapped, the former becoming the basis for the Plus 4, which was sent into market in direct competition with Commodore's own hugely successful C64.
The computers were also a great example of what damage can be done by a marketing department who have been left no clear idea of how to handle a new range.
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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH228. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.
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