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View Full Version : Commodore 610, what is it?



Jorg
February 6th, 2008, 08:53 AM
I came along ebay auction 220198081422, and just wondered what kind of machine this is, as I never saw it before.

German is no problem for me, and it says its the 'professional version of the C64'. I just wonder in what way..

carlsson
February 6th, 2008, 01:27 PM
The Commodore 610 is also known as B128 in the USA. Basically it was meant to replace the PET series. The hardware consists of a bank switching 6509 CPU, 128K RAM, IEEE interface, a 6545 video generator and a 6581 SID chip! Thus it is black'n'white, but in Germany there were some 3rd party expansions to get a colour picture I've heard. Other than the SID chip, it doesn't have much in common with the C64. Software wise, it is barely compatible with the PETs, which generated a lot of work for software houses to rewrite their business software to run on the CBM-II series, as they also are called.

The 610 is known as a low-profile Commodore, as it doesn't have a monitor. There is a high-profile version called 710 (or 720 for the one with 256K RAM). I have come across a half dozen 610's and a few 710's from the PET place, and sold many of those. For that reason, I don't find them particularly "ultra-rare", but if you never have seen one before, they appear so.

Due to the shortage of software, I think they're mainly collectable vs useable. On the other hand at the Commodore show in December, in the one where Jack Tramiel, Stephen Wozniak et.al. were having a panel discussion, at the end there was a gentleman from the audience praising the B128 for being a truly superb computer of its day, outclassing both the Apple II and IBM PC. He asked Jack why Commodore didn't put more efforts in marketing this wonder computer...

tezza
February 6th, 2008, 03:27 PM
Due to the shortage of software, I think they're mainly collectable vs useable. On the other hand at the Commodore show in December, in the one where Jack Tramiel, Stephen Wozniak et.al. were having a panel discussion, at the end there was a gentleman from the audience praising the B128 for being a truly superb computer of its day, outclassing both the Apple II and IBM PC. He asked Jack why Commodore didn't put more efforts in marketing this wonder computer...

Yes, I remember seeing that. That guy was quite passionate about that machine! He seemed at a complete loss at to why Jack et al hadn't it promoted it to the max.

That is a good video. If you are interested in computer history and haven't seen that panel discussion (on the computer history museum site?), it's worth a look.

carlsson
February 6th, 2008, 11:16 PM
I suppose the C= board had realized the business market was slipping away. As to why these computers were developed at all, I'm not sure. Probably they needed something newer for their existing business customers, although in many respects a Commodore 64 seems just as business like as these ones do. Sure, it has less memory, only 40 columns, slower floppy drives and no numerical keyboard but bright colour graphics and two control ports, i.e. for drawing pads.

By the way, the 600 and 700 series have cartridge slots, but to my knowledge most cartridges work as dongles or contain supplementary software so a floppy is required to boot from. These computers also has a C2N tape connector, but no support in ROM, so it is only cosmetical. I'm not even sure whether the hardware is able to access a tape recorder. There were a bunch of prototypes in these series, like B500 and P500, the latter actually considered something of a professional C64, having both VIC-II, SID and joystick ports. It is very rare though, only available in prototypes. Furthermore there is something called D128 which is not directly related neither to the B128 or the more common C128. Bil Herd on Usenet however recently commented that when he begun working on the C128, he could take advantage of these former 128K prototype computers in such way he knew which path(s) not to take. :-D

billdeg
February 10th, 2008, 02:54 PM
Can't help but chime in...
Here is a brief page that describes the history of the B's in the USA:
http://www.vintagecomputer.net/cbm_b_prototypes.cfm

One of the best histories is here:
http://home.comcast.net/~shockley15790/onlinestorage/b128.html

see also Commodore Free, there's an interview of yours truly about the B Series (page 11)
http://www.commodorefree.com/magazine/issue15.pdf

carlsson
February 24th, 2008, 10:25 AM
A bit related, I picked up two more dead CBM 710's yesterday, in hope to replace the motherboards with loose ones I had lying around and get working machines of those. However, I lack keyboards so even if it boots it would not be very useful.

First machine, I checked that the PSU and monitor still were working, then replaced the motherboard. The computer boots to Basic alright. Then I plugged in a keyboard and floppy drive to check that IEEE works.

I was just going to insert a floppy disk to read directory or something, when a thick layer of white, magic smoke came out from the side of the computer. Most probably it was the power supply which gave up the ghost after two minutes of operation, after have been stored in a cold, damp garage for 15+ years. Bah! :-(

I don't have the motivation to take apart the other 710 tonight, maybe another day. On the good side is that the power supply probably outputs 5/12V (I need to verify that somehow) so I might find some replacement supply and replace the cables.