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1982 - The CBM B128 (B Series)


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Announced at the Chicago Electronics Show in June 1982, the CBM B128 was to be the first in the new 'B' series range, the third-generation PET designed by none other than the German designer of Porsche motor cars. It was touted as one of the replacements for the CBM 8032 that promised to bring Commodore Business Machines in line with more modern micro computers. The B128 was equipped with the MOS 6509 micro processor, the same SID chip as used in the C-64, and 128K of RAM, expandable internally to 256K, but using an external 640K memory expansion, 896K was possible. On top of that there was to be a plug-in Z-80 micro processor board that would add CP/M and access to a vast range of professional software, as well as an 8088 16-bit micro-processor board for CP/M-86 capability.

There was a built-in RS-232C interface for hooking up modems and printers, Commodore's traditional IEEE-488 interface to support the full range of Commodore peripherals, a real-time clock, an enhanced Microsoft BASIC upward compatible with BASIC 4.0, audio system output, monitor output, and a cartridge slot for plug-in games and other software. High-level languages such as U.C.S.D. Pascal would also be supported, and the CP/M made possible languages such as FORTRAN, COBOL and APL. It came with an 80 column 25 line built-in "tilt-and-swivel" green phosphor monitor, dual 5" disk drives and detachable keyboard. Its 94 keys included 10 programmable function keys, a separate numeric keypad with CE, 00, ENTER and math operators, a key for each cursor arrow to support the full-screen editor, a large and easy to find RETURN, Pi, ESC, CTRL, INS/DEL, RUN/STOP, NORM/GRPH, CLR/HOME, OFF/RVS, and the full CBM business character set with PET graphics symbols. A release date of October 1982 was announced but as far as we know it was only released in the US and came with business software that included a terminal program, database, and a wordprocessor.

It had very little success in the retail market, so Commodore sold them to a company called "Protecto Enterprises" out of Chicago, who dumped them for a pittance, something like $200USD. Most of them were bought to get the popular 8050 single-sided drive, popular with serious C-64 users to run BBS's. There was even a B-128 users group that operated out of Chicago, and claimed to be the largest users group in the world. It was a very nice machine for it's time, but obviously could not compete with the IBM PC.(Thanks to Gene Lambert, B-128 owner from Chicago for his help with this machine)

CBM B128 Technical Specifications
Microprocessor MOS 6509
System Memory 2K ROM
User Area 128K RAM , expandable internally to 256K and using a 640K external expansion to 896K.
Keyboard Qwerty layout - 94 keys including 10 programmable function keys and numeric keypad.
Display 80 columns 25 lines 255 displayable characters
Resolution 640 x 400 pixels
Colours None - Monochrome Green only
Sound 3 tone generators + white noise generator
Input/Output RS232C Commodore Serial Port
IEEE-488 Interface
Cassette Drive No Cassette Drive port
Joysticks No Joystick ports
Other ROM Cartridge port
Price US$1695


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Revised: September 25, 2005.