When you think of computers in the early 1980s, most people think Apple. But you might be surprised to know that for a substantial period of time in the 80s, the Commodore 64 dominated the computer market outselling IBM, Apple and Atari. It has even been called the best selling computer in history and has a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for selling 17 million units. Some have compared it to the Ford Model-T automobile because of its affordability and mass production.
So what made it sell so well??? Coming on to the scene in August of 1982, one big thing going for the Commodore 64 was how easy it was to use. It booted up to a user-friendly screen with the Commodore Basic Operating System ready for instruction. You could write your own program, load software from a cassette or floppy, or stick a cartridge into the back and it would do whatever asked of it.
Another part of its success was that it was sold at regular retail stores and not just electronic stores. You could pick one up at places like Sears, Toys R Us, Fred Meyer, K-Mart and Montgomery Ward. It was the most affordable computer on the market at that time and because it could be plugged directly into the back of a home television without any modifications, the general masses could work it with ease.
Not only was it easy to use, affordable and found at most stores, it also had a plethora of options and features. Approximately 10,000 commercial software titles were made for it including development tools, games, and office applications. It had a TV port, 2 joystick ports, and a cartridge port.
Sadly, demand for the 8 bit and 16 bit machines declined rapidly in the US during the 1990s due to PC compatibles dominating the computer market. It continued to be profitable in the UK and other European countries but eventually its demise was caused not by lack of demand, but because of the cost of producing the disk drive. In 1994, Commodore announced it would be discontinuing their machines stating that the Commodore 1541 disk drive actually cost more than the C64 itself.