This stylish machine brings back memories. My childhood best friend had one of these. My family had a Commodore 64. When I was in 4th grade I wrote a Caesar cipher encryption program [1] using a description of the cipher from an encyclopedia and hacked-together fragments of BASIC from magazines and the programmer's reference guide [2]. It took me a week to make it work at all. It was my first substantial program that I can recall. Afterward, instead of trading notes with my friend at school, we could trade floppy disks with our secret notes [3]!

With neither of us being touch typists, and our computers being at home rather than school, this was altogether a far more expensive, cumbersome, and high latency method of communication. I think we traded notes maybe 2 or 3 times in total after I actually had the program working. I remember this project with fondness whenever I have written a script for a task that I repeat only once or twice, which still happens with some regularity.



[3] That was once I provided a long handwritten note about how to actually use my invention.

128D was my dream computer when I was still a C64 user. I loved the design, integrated floppy drive, 80 columns! I finally bought it few years ago, in top condition, just to donate it to computer museum.
The C128[D[CR]] is a great system in C128 mode. It can run at 2 MHz, has a huge BASIC with lots of graphics and sound commands, 80 columns, and a fast floppy drive. Of course it also has a C64 mode and a CP/M mode.

The problem with the C128 is it shouldn't have had a C64 mode. What the C128 should have been is more like the C65 that was designed later but never released. The C64 mode discouraged software developers from utilizing the C128 mode features because they were unavailable in order to achieve a ridiculous 99.99% backward compatibility.

If the C128 had been a C64 with a second 64K bank of switchable RAM, and had an enhanced graphics chip with an 80 column mode that was 100% backward compatible with the VIC-II, and perhaps a second SID for stereo (OK, I'm dreaming here a bit), developers would have written software that checked for the enhanced features and activated them if they were present. This is what almost every other computer manufacturer did (eg. Apple II series, Atari 800/XL/XE series, Acorn BBC Micro series, Amstrad CPC series, etc.). It cost them a bit of backward compatibility but they ended up with lots of software for the later models.

Bil Herd did an incredible job to get the C128 designed and working and shipped considering the lack of support he had from Commodore to do so. If he'd had some support, perhaps he could have gotten an enhanced graphics chip done. Considering what he had to work with, the C128 is one of the best 8-bit computers ever built. If you're into BASIC, it's wonderful.

The author has an incredible Commodore collection. If you ever find yourself in the Austin area when there’s a Central Texas Commodore Users Group meeting then it’s worth a visit.

You can find it on Meetup

Sigh. More time has passed since the writing of that retro computing article and now, than between the launch of the computer and the article. Feeling old.
I pulled a 128D out of a dumpster (literally) around 2002, in the US. I was always a bit confused if it was actually a 128D or a 128DCR since the articles I checked at the time said the 128D wasn't sold in the US, but the nameplate does say "128D" on it. Newer articles mention that the DCR had a metal case, whereas the original 128D was plastic so now I know mine is the DCR. I've never seen another 128D in person so it was really difficult to tell.
I "inherited" one of these from a colleague about a decade ago when his girlfriend really wanted him to get rid of a "bunch of crap". I got his box of approx. 100 floppy disks from his childhood too.

I had very mixed feelings accepting the gift from him. Both happy and sad for him. I figured I'll keep it and have fun with it, and if he ever brings it up again, I'll ask if he wants it back.

I have both the C128D and the C128DCR.

Unfortunately, the DCR is missing its keyboard :(

It was always a bit awkward with the far reach for accessing the Action Replay cartridge’s (a freezer/turbo-loader) buttons since the cartridge port was way behind the monitor (or in my case, a small TV)

Almost never used any of them other than in C64 mode. Booted CP/M like once. What a waste, all those poor Z80s must be the least utilized cpus ever.

I'd say any C128 model was a smart buy in 1985, especially considering how much more expensive faster desktops were, and how quickly everything got faster. The 386 launched in October 1985. The first PC to use it, blazing at 16MHz, was the Compaq Deskpro 386 released in September 1986 for $6.5K for 1MB of RAM, MS-DOS 3.1, a 1.2 MB floppy drive and a 40 MB hard drive, but cost around $8K after you add a video card and monitor. The Compaq Deskpro 386/25 was released August 1988 for $10.3K, probably close to $12K with video. Knowing that, I don't feel as bad having spent ~$4K in 1989 on a Mac II w/ 5MB RAM, 800K 3.5" floppy drive, 80MB HDD, Apple video card, Apple 12" monochrome monitor and A/UX license, though I wish I had gotten the SE/30 instead. I would have saved a little and had a machine that was twice as fast. I bought a couple in 2005 for $25/pc. I just picked up another about 6 months ago for $277 and recapped it. They're attractive furniture. I wish I had the room for a C128 of any flavor.
I found a boxed C128 at a thrift store in the early 2000s but then gave it to a friend of mine because he was obsessed with the Hard Hat Mac’s SID music show on 90.3, KDVS in Davis, CA. I kind of wish I still had it sometimes. It was a neat addition to my computer and game console collection.
I remember considering the 128D when we were buying a computer in 1985 but we opted for the new Amiga 1000 instead. Never regretted it!
As I recall, the Amiga was already in full swing by the time this came out but I was still stuck on a C64 with no immediate prospects of affording any sort of upgrade. But even at the time, I remember looking at this, looking at even the relatively puny Amiga 1000, and going "Why, Commodore, Why?"

Even the 128 was pretty pointless as a daily driver, except in certain use cases. Such as, a friend of mine had a 128 on which he ran a BBS in native mode and it was definitely faster than my C64 BBS software.

But if I came over and we were messing around playing games, well, let's just say that "GO64" keys were more worn out than the rest of em.

This was the computer I got as a kid, which I only ever used to play games on (maybe my parents should have just given me that nintendo I wanted). I still have it but it hasn’t been turned on for decades. I wonder how likely it would be to turn on? I suspect it would need to be opened up for inspection first but since I don’t know how to solder I doubt there’s anything I could do on the inside and I wouldn’t know how to find someone to help me with it.

Same deal with my se/30. It hasn’t been turned on for many years and I’m afraid to do so in case I damage it (further). IIRC it had a broken floppy drive anyway so it needs some repairs.

I still remember the first time I powered it up and caught the scent of ionized air.
This was my first computer - way back in 1987. My friend had an Amiga, and I just didn't "get it" back then. Looking back, I should have spent a few $$$ for the Amiga :-)
sweet timing! Few weeks ago I finally got ahold of C128D(CR) again after many years. It with 1084s monitor is a bygone era that still fuels with inspiration. Few of the amigas on the side, SGIs, Spectrums, Amstrads, and an old PC or two is still source of inspiration and reminder of why I went into it all. It's easy to forget in daily routines of abundant javascript/youtube machines surrounding us.
Hrrm. Flashback. Had these in school around 1985 with


Brought my Atari 520stm with SM124 black/white screen @[email protected] into class to the envy of the physics teacher, and did anything the others did in Comal in 68k macro assembly :-)

Usually in less time btw.

Weren’t these almost as expensive as the Amiga?
> special software in the 1571 disk drive motherboard that discouraged pirating software from operating correctly

>The Commodore 128D is a great computer. I upgraded from a C128 back in 1992 and have never looked back.

How is this an upgrade over a 128 & 1571, if it is just in a different form factor, but with reduced functionality?

My uncle had this model. I had a Vic-20 at the time still and I can't say I wasn't a bit envious...
Someday I want to hear Bil Herd describe what he would have done instead of the Amiga given the same resources.
Is that literally an Amiga 1000 case?