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1982 - The Commodore Max


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Announced at the Chicago Electronics Show in June 1982, the Max (originally known as the Ultimax) was a cartridge and cassette driven machine based on the same technology as the C-64 but targetted at the Atari VCS, the Atari 5200, the Mattel Intellivision and the Odyssey. The Max had an integral 66-key bubble membrane keyboard identical in layout to the Vic 20, and data/programs could even be saved to cassette tape. But Commodore were also billing the Max as an entry-level computer and music synthesizer. A plug-in Basic cartridge would give game players a taste of programming albeit in only 1K of RAM.

The announcement produced an immediate price drop from the competition (some by as much as 50%) and although a July 1982 release date was announced, the machine was never released as far as we know. Instead the C-64 became the machine of choice, and, as we all know now, the games machine market of the time eventually collapsed.

CBM Max Technical Specifications
Microprocessor MOS 6510
System Memory 2K ROM - 3K RAM
User Area 1K if Basic Interpreter not used
Keyboard Qwerty layout - 66 keys including 4 function keys
Display 40columns 25 lines 255 displayable characters
Resolution 192 x 200 pixels
Colours 16 - 8 for the foreground and 8 for the background or border
Sound 3 tone generators + white noise generator
Cassette Drive C1531 Cassette Drive port
Joysticks 2 Joystick ports
Other ROM Cartridge port
Price US$179.95
Datasette US$74.95


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Revised: September 25, 2005.