For the first few years after its release in 1982, the Commodore 64 used eight RAM chips of 64kbit each.

In the late eighties, it became cheaper to use a pair of 256kbit chips of the 4-bit-wide variety.

But the machine was manufactured until Commodore went bankrupt in 1994. What did it use up to the end of that time? Were 256kbit DRAMs still being manufactured in older fabs, or was there some transition to a chip of yet higher capacity?

  • 2
    Not a complete answer: ist.uwaterloo.ca/~schepers/MJK/c64__.html has images of the various boards, and looks like a switch at one point went to 2x64x4 bit DRAMs. Even the latest boards seem to keep that pair of chips; as you can see from that page a lot of other changes happened over those last few years (and with the C64C)
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 19:47

1 Answer 1


The highest capacity DRAM to ever be used for the Commodore 64 motherboard was 256Kbit. By the early 1990s, 1Mbit DRAM was commonplace, but used in a 256Kbx4 would require the C64 to have 256KB of main memory. It was almost certainly cheaper to continue to source the 256Kbit RAMs than to either upgrade the C64 to support 256KB of RAM near its end-of-life, or to just use higher capacity chips in a reduced manner.

Of all the popular 1980s, 8-bit machines, that were still being manufactured into the early 1990s, only the Apple IIgs (ROM 3) and the SAM Coupe utilized 1Mbit DRAM on the motherboard. There might have been some PC clones with 8088 CPUs still made in the early 1990s and utilizing 1Mbit DRAMs, but I don't know of any. The 80286 with its 16-bit data bus was pretty dominant by 1990.

NOTE: Some would call the IIgs a "16-bit computer", but it clearly has only an 8-bit data bus.

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    Per the schematic at velesoft.speccy.cz/samcoupe/sam-schematic/… , the SAM Coupé used 256x4 DRAMs (close to the centre of the schematic). But it wasn't introduced until 1989 and 256kb is the minimum memory configuration.
    – Tommy
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 22:31
  • 1
    @Tommy Thanks. I often forget about the SAM Coupe being such an exception. Haven't had the joy of owning one...
    – Brian H
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 22:49
  • Now I'm curious just how cheap were 256k DRAMs compared to 1Mbit by 1994. Byte ads for memory chips are gone by then. Is there any other source of prices you know of?
    – rwallace
    Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 0:27
  • 2
    In fact, that probably belongs as a separate question.
    – rwallace
    Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 0:32

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