Retro Home Computers – Commodore 264


Commodore 264,
1984 – never released

On January 13th 1984, just two days before his resignation as Commodore Business Machines’ president, Jack Tramiel posed for photographers at the Consumer Electronics Show. He proudly displayed the latest Commodore home computers in his hands: the Commodore 264 and 364. Some source claim that the Commodore 264 refers to a line of computers and that there never was a Commodore 264. However, as the picture below shows, there was a Commodore 264. However, its fate was short lived.

Jack Tramiel Leaves

As a result in the new management structure after the resignation of Jack Tramiel, the Commodore 264 was delayed indefinitely. The General Manager, Sol Davidson, spoke to the Wall Street journal telling them that Commodore will introduce the 264 when there is a need for it. Later in June 1984, the Commodore 264 was renamed and released as the Plus/4. However, several of the old preproduction Commodore 264 computers still exist today.

Commodore 264

Above: Commodore 264

Commodore 364

Above: Commodore 364

Bad Timing for the Commodore 264

Commodore was selling out of Commodore 64s. So much so, that they did not want to reduce the supply of a top selling Commodore 64 for an unproven Commodore 264. Timing was wrong for the 264. Without increased capacity for the Commodore 64, the Commodore 264 would not be released, as stated by Irving Gould himself.

Another problem for the Commodore 264 was that it was not compatible with the range of peripherals released for the commodore 64 or 128, leaving no reason for anyone to upgrade to it from any other Commodore product.

Great Expectations

The Commodore 264 was to be relased with Microsoft Basic 3.5, a much improved version over the Basic included in the Commodore 64, version 2.0 inclduing some 50 extra commands making graphics work that much easier.

The Commodore 264 was also intended to be introduced with built in software including a word processor, spreadsheet, database and a graphing program. When the Plus/4 was release later in 1984, these promised software options were not provided. However, since the word processor would only be capable of 99 lines of text, it was useless for anything other than memos and other documents that were sufficient with one page of text.

As with almost everything at Commodore, development of this new concept machine with very limited specifications had been ordered by Jack Tramiel himself. However, as the development cycle came to fruition it was clear that the engineers had developed a more powerful 64K computer that was right for the small office / home office market. Only the hobbled Commodore C16 / 116 was what Jack had originally requested.

Commodore 116

Above: Commodore 116

The Commodore 364 suffered the same fate as the Commodore 264 and was never released.