Commodore is probably the most "committed" company in the computer revolution, the one that has led computers out of the specialized centers and has made technology accessible to the masses. In fact, the Commodore C64 I think was the first computer to be sold in supermarkets too.
Many of today's IT professionals have taken the first steps on a Vic-20 or a C-64, let's not forget, too, that the C-64 is, with its 18-22 million pieces produced, the best-selling personal computer to the present day.
The company we know as the Commodore Business Machine was founded in Toronto, Canada in 1955. Tramiel had emigrated to the United States from a very young age. He was a Polish Auschwitz survivor and opened a small repair shop for typewriters in New York. Businesses went relatively well for some years, and they also made some projects under Czechoslovakia licenses. After that he moved to Canada where he opened the Commodore Business Machine. It was said that the name of the company was in no way due to the obvious similarity between CBM and IBM. Shortly after commencing operations in Canada, Commodore Business Machine began the bold move to realize the most important piece of office technology at that time: the desktop calculator machine.
The company met with moderate success until Tramiel's business partner was involved in some unclear business practices and CBM slipped into red. At this point Irvine Gould offered to rescue the CBM with his money in exchange for the nomination as president and Tramiel agreed.
The desktop calculator market began to collapse, so Tramiel went to Japan to study the market and see what the competitors were doing. Tramiel discovered that the new business was electronic calculators, so he returned home and repositioned CBM. Commodore made the first American electronic calculator and the market exploded.
The war of calculators soon became very hot with Japanese and American companies competing to make smaller, faster and cheaper products. In 1976, Commodore reacted by acquiring some small electronics companies and acquiring new staff, including Chuck Peddle, who was involved in the PET project and the PET's 6502 microprocessor. Peddle convinced Tramiel to get out of the calculator market instead of focusing on the new home computer field. Tramiel accepted Peddle's advice and the Commodore PET (Personal Electronic Transactor) was introduced in 1977.
PET was in direct competition with other home computer pioneers like the Apple II and the TRS-80 and had some difficulty with them. In addition to these problems, Chuck Peddle left the Commodore in 1979 after a divergence between him and Tramiel about where to find PET memories. Commodore seemed to collapse again, but everything changed with the success of VIC-20 in 1981.
The VIC-20 was a step change from PET. Unlike PET, it did not include a monitor or recorder. Unlike PET, the VIC-20 was inexpensive, at a producer's recommended price of only $ 300 versus nearly $ 1,500 of PET. The VIC was designed so that it could connect to a normal TV set and did it very well. The VIC was still quite limited, but Commodore remedied this the following year when he introduced the famous Commodore 64.
The C-64 looked much like the VIC-20 - even used the same case, only in a different color. The differences between the two machines were inside. The C-64 had a 64K memory against the 5K of the VIC. The C-64 also boasts a higher VIC graphics resolution, but one of the most revolutionary aspects of the C-64 was the introduction of the SID chip - the first synthesizer chip ever used on a personal computer. The C-64 sold an estimated 17 to 22 million pieces during its production, making it the most popular personal computer in the world to date.
Commodore released in 1983 the SX-64, a portable version of the C-64 with a drive and a 5 "color monitor. The Plus / 4 and C-16 were released in 1984 and included some amenities like some utility software integrated into the system ROMs, neither the Plus / 4 nor the C-16 were compatible with both the hardware and the software level and so the sales were scarce.
Commodore learned from his mistakes and released the C-128 in 1985. The C-128 had three microprocessors, making it three computers in one. In C-128 mode it was almost twice as fast as a C-64 and had 128K of memory. It also contained a Zilog Z80 processor for CP/M mode giving the C-128 compatibility with all CP/M-based machines. The C-128 could also run in C-64 mode, which behaved exactly like a C-64. Was a double cut weapon as it helped the C-128 to have a fair success but few develops they will have two versions of their programs to take advantage of C-128 enhancements when a person with the C-128 essentially also had a C-64. In the end, no computer made by Commodore or any other computer was able to sell more than the C-64.
Jack Tramiel surprised everyone in 1984 when he suddenly left the Commodore to work for Atari. This left the reins in the hands of Irving Gould and Medhi Ali. The following year Commodore began to focus more on 16-bit systems with the introduction of the Amiga 1000 based on the Motorola 68000 processor. The Amiga 1000 was followed by the Amiga 500 and the Amiga 2000 in 1987 and the Amiga 3000 in 1990. Commodore released the latest Amiga line in 1993 with the Amiga 4000. Commodore was never revolutionary in marketing (it was said that Commodore could not sell water in the desert), but things went worse after the departure of Tramiel. The Amiga line was considered an earthquake for its time (the Amiga 4000 is still considered a boundary line from some today) but inadequate marketing has relegated it to a niche market. The Amiga line attracted a lot of dedicated users - especially in the entertainment market thanks to its video editing capabilities.
Commodore also tried to compete in the home video market with CDTV and CD32. Have you ever seen them? I do not think so. Commodore began the bankruptcy proceedings in 1993 and the Commodore doors closed all over the world in 1994.