RE: 264/TED/Plus4 Story

From: Bil Herd <>
Date: Sat, 3 Sep 2011 03:25:35 -0400
Message-ID: <>
Greetings Levente

Sorry for the delay, it's been an interesting week here on the east coast of
the US.   It’s a cool thought a school with kids typing on our keyboards
around on the other side of the world.  We were so focused on getting things
done that the thought of where they would end up wasn’t really ion our
minds, though we shipped several of the "TED in a VIC case" Alpha units to
several companies in Europe... about half went there if I remember right so
we knew that we were targeting  Europe in ways that Apple never did.  We
made up for it in failing to target our own schools in ways that Apple never
would either.

Did the presence of simple systems that could make lots of color, with
admittedly very little software prompt some of the demoscene by any chance?
I just picture someone looking down at the TED with a blinking cursor and
thinking there has to be SOMETHING you could do with this thing.

BTW please feel free to point/friend request any CBM users at my facebook
link BilHerd/, I don’t
always have time to post but enjoy hearing what others are up to that also
think in bits-n-bytes.


-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Hársfalvi Levente
Sent: Thursday, August 25, 2011 3:18 PM
Subject: Re: 264/TED/Plus4 Story


Do you happen to have some memories about the more exotic members of the
264-series, ie. the Drean Commodore 16 and a potentially existing (or at
least planned) Brazilian version (ie. machines for PAL-N and PAL-M land)? I
know some about the PAL-N one and its story, mostly info that's been
floating around the net for some time, but that's all, and I could certainly
find nothing about the PAL-M one (not even if a PAL-M TED was produced or
ever existed).

For one, I really enjoy reading your stories... Well.. You might already
know this one, but here it is in return anyway... :-) Commodore, then having
had slightly flopped with the 264 series in the market, seems to have met
some representatives of the Hungarian government, who were (at the time) in
constant search of a decent and affordable school computer for elementary
and secondary schools. To keep the story short, according to data, they
brought about 10000 C16s and Plus/4s to HU via that program that all landed
in the schools. (There was a previous occassion in 1985 when the government
just bought up and sold a series of C16s in the Hungarian market; note that
HUF wasn't one of the convertible currencies at the time, buying something
for USD (so-called "hard
currency") and selling for HUF was solely the business of the government and
its associates ie. companies owned by the state itself). All in all, a great
number of schools were supplied with C16s and Plus/4s; one can instantly
recognize the machines of these series, as all of them were equipped with
localized keyboard layouts and character ROMs as a then-requirement for
school computer candidates ( can sometimes find a factory produced
Hungarian Kernal PROM in them, and keyboards that were produced to already
have the Hungarian alphabet, making these machines the possibly single
occurence of nationalized 264 series computers; most others were regular
Plus/4s just equipped with EPROMs and decals). Combined with the also
reasonably large number of regular C16s and Plus/4s that people so-called
grey-imported from Austria, as a consequence, a great number of Hungarian
kids (lots of people of a generation - those who happened to be 12-15 years
of age at the time) got their first impressions of computer tech by these
computers. ...If you ever wondered why the majority of guys at's
forums happen to speak Hungarian, a not-that common and said to be not-that
easy to learn language, well, that's probably the answer... :-) A pretty
active computer scene rose in just a couple of years, which made up the
majority of the Plus/4 demoscene that ever existed (with the German scene
being the other major side... I don't actually know the reasons, but the
Plus/4 seems to have also been popular in Germany, by itself, just as it
was, without sprites, without decent sound, just for what it did and did not
provide - someone from Germany might possibly give an insight of that). I'm
obviously from that generation; I was 12 when I met computers for the first
time in the school and started playing around with Basic (...actually, it
was some months until the school I had attended received 2 Plus/4s in late
1986, but from that on, there was no way to stop). I couldn't possibly
describe that phenomenon, but if you programmed computers, and you obviously
did :-D, then it's probably also unneccessary. Little did we know about how
things looked like in the West, we didn't even know who Commodore was or
anything about it whatsoever... it's unbelievable now how little information
we could get hold of even just about the computers, let alone the Inc.'s
roots and story at the time and some years to come. IMHO it's been a great
period of our lives; we did a great deal of experimenting, we all got
influenced by it and most of us who did at all, did our first steps there on
the way of becoming a programmer and/or a computer expert. The
Plus/4 definitely played a great role of that story... IMHO a fortunate way
of how things played out, since the Plus/4 was actually really good in that
role. We definitely liked its good display capabilities (...121 colors or
what... ;-) ), good Basic interpreter (first), built-in monitor (...then),
physical outfit (...ever :-) ), everything that made it feel to support
(rather than obstruct... how common that was on other
platforms) you on the way.

...So if you're asking me if I'm ready to listen to some more stories of
insight / your personal point of view, the answer is Yes. With a capital Y.

Best regards,


On 2011-08-20 18:21, Bil Herd wrote:
> Hi Everyone,
> Anyone that knows me knows I love relating a story when I can about
> the little details that still make me laugh and occasionally cry these
> many years later.  CBM's engineering department was relatively small,
> it fluctuated between 20-30 people INCLUCING the technicians,
> engineers programmers, IC designers, IC layout people and PCB
> designers.  Needless to say since we all pretty much fit on a
> volleyball court at the same time we knew each other real well and the
> best stories assume you knew how so-and-so acted when drunk, etc. ....

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Received on 2011-09-03 08:00:03

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