Commodore 128 / 128D was capable of displaying 80 columns through RGBi, therefore it could compete with other business machines of the time, but was this the case? Was this line of machines ever used in the business environment? If so, what software would I find near the unit in an office?
Commodore 128 / 128D was capable of outupting 80 columns through RGBi, therefore it could compete with other business machines of the time, but was this the case?
Not really. The C128 was introduced in 1985 - a new business machine of that time was x86 based, most likely using a 286 of 6-10 MHz, 512 or more KiB of RAM and a 20 MiB HD. Nothing an 8 bit machine could compete with - except maybe special purpose systems (word processors) or the rather unique Amstrad PCW of the same year.
Was this line of machines ever used in business environment?
Yes, but only in small numbers and rather offbeat applications...
...except for schools that is. Schools are business/professional use and quite a lot did use C64/128 in class rooms. But I guess that's a unique case you did not think about.
If so, what software would I find near the unit in an office?
Keep in mind, even the most basic PC-XT offers a better environment to handle multiple application and even more to handle an adequate amount of data. THe later being the most important. Even (at the time) outdated S100 systems would offer more and faster storage. Investment in an office computer is about performing tasks more efficient, not eating up time with tiny disk drives, complicated handling and slow operation.
So bottom line, there are only two reasons to have a C-128 as office computer:
- No possibility to aquirre a more capable system (like maybe in eastern Europe?)
- A very specific application only available for the C128 (or C64)
At least in Western Europe only the later would stand as reason to buy a sub standard computer: to have it run THE application needed for the job. So if you can name the specific case, you got one example (*1).
And yes, much can be done with dedication. Hobbyists have shown amazing usages for C64/128. But these are dedicated people enjoying to spend time with the machine, not office clerks doing their job.
Business is about over all cost, not just buying a device. So empoloyee time (aka payment) to operate counts as much - and it adds up month by month, soon dwarfing even several 1000 dollar additional investment in Hardware. And any business not earning enough to switch to an, at least somewhat, state of the art computer to optimize its daily jobs, isn't a viable business.
*1 - For a small exhibition in Vilshofen, doing something like you may have in mind, the use case will be a solution for forest management. That package wsa only available for C64 (C128 in C64 mode) at the time ... later it got ported to PC and marketed until today.
Commodore released the CBM 8032 in 1980 with an 80 column screen aimed at business users so they would already be using that (or successor models) and accompanying business software well before 1985. There would have been no particular reason for Commodore business users to swap to a C128 and non-Commodore users would be eyeing up an IBM PC or AT by then.