The Commmodore 16 and Plus/4 are low-end 8-bit home computers created and released by Commodore.
Contrary to popular belief, the Plus/4 line was not created to supersede the earlier high-end Commodore 64. Commodore's founder, Jack Tramiel, wanted a low-cost computer to replace the VIC 20 and compete with Sinclair Research. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January 1984, Tramiel posed with two models of the 264 series: a 264 and a V364. However, on the 14th, he left his company in dispute, and his marketing department clueless.
Started up, every model looks a lot like the Commodore 64, but sports 121 colors (instead of 16), BASIC 3.5 (instead of BASIC 2.0), primitive sound, and no sprites (which usually shows in coarse movement).
Software is either typed in BASIC or loaded from a tape cassette or two-sided 5'25" disk. A C64 game and a C16 or Plus/4 game can be stored on the same disk side. Several game companies sold RAM expansions, hence the C16 is often listed as Plus/4 as well.
The C116 has 16 KB RAM and a cumbersome rubber keyboard like the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.
It is closest to what Tramiel wanted, but was only released in PAL regions. An NTSC machine is said to be fanmade.
The Plus/4 has 64 KB, a typewriter keyboard that adds a right Control key, an userport, and an office suite called 3-plus-1.
Commodore spelled Plus/4 in lower case on their covers, and capitalized in their manuals. Users and game companies have occasionally spelled it without slash or +4.
The Commodore V364 is a Plus/4 with a built-in Magic Voice and a 19-key numeric keypad.
It was never officially released. In January 1984, Tramiel posed with one. At least three exist: one bought by a collector through eBay in the 1990s, one bought by another collector from a Commodore employee by February 2002, and one presumed in possession of another employee.
The Commodore 232 is a Plus/4 with 32 KB, no userport, and no office suite.
It was never officially released. It was being planned in February 1984. At least 14 exist. A German collector sold one by December 2000.
The Commodore 264 is a Plus/4 without office suite.
It was never officially released. In January 1984, Tramiel posed with one. In February, it was being planned to have the office suite. Commodore sent Infocom one, they gave it to someone in Rhode Island, USA, and he sold it through eBay by July 2015.
The Commodore 216 would have been a C116 that looks like a Plus/4.
Whether it was built is unknown. It was being planned in February 1984.
Music and Sound
The TED has two voices, three timers and also handles graphics. Each timer can be used to play music and samples at any desired rate. However, several music drivers are instead synchronized with the screen refresh to avoid irregular skips through graphics. Therefore, several song tempos are (examples given for PAL and 4/4 time) 93, 125, 150 or 187 BPM rather than anything between.
On the wrong region's machine, pitch is off by unremarkable 1% (16 cents) and speed by up to 20%. The clocks are:
|NTSC||894886 Hz||59.923 Hz|
|PAL||886724 Hz||49.861 Hz|
During blank screen areas, the CPU is automatically clocked twice.
Several C16 and Plus/4 games have their sound ripped and can be downloaded from the following sites:
- plus4world.powweb.com/hvtc - High Voltage TED Collection (note that game music is intermixed with demo songs).
Since 2012, a rip standard (complete with format, guidelines and player) is under construction. However, as of June 2022, it is still not finalized. Currently, every available rip is a program that you run on a C16 or Plus/4 (or emulator thereof) and where you press different keys to play another track. Some rips garble the screen, and on some tracks, you have to wait till it finishes.