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Most of the history of Commodore in personal computers took place while East and West Germany were divided, and Commodore maintained a significant corporate presence in West Germany. While I believe that the center for Commodore's R&D was Its Headquarters in West Chester, Pennsylvania, I am curious about the technical contributions made by the facility in West Germany.

I'm not particularly interested in the regional sales, marketing, distribution, or assembly activities that were undoubtedly contributed. Specifically, I'd like to know about technical engineering or design done in West Germany.

Which Commodore products were significantly designed or engineered in West Germany rather than West Chester?

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    Commodore Germany made mainly applications - like variations of the PET-II line. This includes at least one Amiga model and several add on boards. The whole PC line was developed in Braunschweig. From the Colt all the way to PC-70 - including the Amiga 1060 sidecar. The CBM-900 as well. – Raffzahn Aug 6 at 14:33
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[Insert: Some site history

While the German subsidary (Commodore Büromaschinen GmbH), originally set in Neu-Isenburg near Frankfurt, had facilities for import handling and distribution, this was soon moved to a distribution center in Braunschweig and accomplished by a final assembly line and a development center. At the same time the company moved into Frankfurt city. This was the setup from 1982 until the end.

]

Commodore Germany did in the beginning quite a lot adaptations and variations for the PET line. This includes rebadged devices like the 8026 daisy wheel printer bought from Olympia all the way to 'genuine' Commodore products like the 8028 based on the East German Robotron SD1152/253 printer mechanic (well, and several other parts, like switches, were bought from across the iron curtain). PET development ended with certain models of the PET-II line. After their demise the German surplus market was flooded with Commodore PET/PET-II computers as well as empty shells.

The first complete system developed in Germany would be the PC compatible PC-10 of 1984 (Introduction in the US 1986), followed by the Z8000 based CBM-900 of 1985. The 900 was scraped soon after introduction - it is said because of the upcoming Amiga - but the PC series was quite a success in Germany and other countries, running until the very end. Notable here the PC-1 (or Colt in the US). Hardware wise a shrunk PC-10/III developed in Braunschweig on request of Commodore USA to counter the Atari PC1.

The Amiga 1060 sidecar (1986) was as well designed and built in Braunschweig. It does make sense with their experience in PC machines. Similar (AFAIK) the various bridge cards for the Amiga 2000 were made and built in Germany. Now due even more heritage as the 2000 itself was designed in Germany as well.

If you ever wondered why the Amiga 2000 design looks so different from the A1000 as well as any other (US) Commodore, just compare it with the 900 and PC-10. The 2000 was intended to be sold in Europe and should fit the design of all other professional machines. In addition considerable part of the newer chipset designs (A3000) were as well done in Germany.


There has been much more development after Commodore International went belly up, but that's a different story. BTW, it might be notable here that in fact Commodore Germany as well as Commodore UK were profitable until the end - and at that time generating about 2/3rd of all business.

  • Cool. I suspected a lot of the PC-related stuff and the A2000. Do you know of any additional online references about W. German facility working on the OCS "Fat Agnus" and "Fatter Agnus", or on ECS Agnus and Denise? – Brian H Aug 7 at 15:09
  • @BrianH No idea, above is mostly from memory. I guess it's up to Google now :)) – Raffzahn Aug 7 at 16:58
  • I don't remember ever reading about any involvement of Commodore Germany in the chipset design, neither for the Agnus/Denise/Paula trio, nor for the "lesser" chips (Gary, Ramsey, etc..). – user180940 Aug 13 at 13:26
  • While I didn't explicitly check, I'm pretty sure the company had “Büromaschinen” in their name, not “Büromaschienen”. – celtschk Aug 16 at 13:12
  • @celtschk that's what the edit button is for, isn't it? – Raffzahn Aug 16 at 18:21
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The CBM900 came before PC10, the prototypes were sent out early 1984 (I started in Commodore Denmark on august 1st 1984 with half the job being supporting the CBM900).

I belive we got the first PC10 prototypes in early 1985, but they were embargoed because the BIOS was too identical to IBM's for legal comfort.

The 900 were designed in US, but the prototypes were built in Germany because they could handle the large PCB.

The cabinet was designed for the C900, and there were significant carry-over from that to both PC10 and the Amiga.

Poul-Henning

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