Geek Trivia

Which Computer Is The Best Selling Personal Computer Of All Time?

The Apple II
The Commodore 64
The TRS-80
The Timex Sinclair
Bottled Water Has An Expiration Date Because Of?

Answer: The Commodore 64

Although its glory days are long gone, the Commodore 64 will go down in history as the most popular computer of the burgeoning personal computer age. Rocking a 0.985 MHz (PAL version) to 1.023 MHz (NTSC version) processor, 64 KB of RAM, and packed with fiery 8-bit power, the iconic little computer was produced from 1982 until 1994. The Commodore 64 was, and remains, the best selling personal computer of all time.

Thanks to strong marketing that involved sales in retail stores (instead of limiting sales to specialty computer and electronics shops), the Commodore 64 enjoyed serious market saturation that eluded other computer producers. Production hit a peak of 400,000 units a month in the mid-1980s, and from 1983-1986, 2,000,000 Commodore 64 units were produced and sold per year. During the entire life cycle of the computer, millions of units were sold—independent estimates put the range between 10 and 17 million.

In addition to excellent marketing, the Commodore 64 sported an enormous number of commercial titles. Roughly 10,000 software titles were released for the Commodore 64 that covered everything from games to office apps to development tools. The Apple II was a comparable computer to the Commodore 64, but it used its expansion slots for interfacing to common peripherals like disk drives, printers, and modems. The Commodore 64 had a variety of ports integrated into the motherboard, which left the expansion slot free.

Additionally, at its release, the Commodore 64’s graphic and sound capabilities were rivaled only by the much pricier Atari personal computers. In terms of price and performance, the Commodore blew the Apple II out of the water. There was a final bonus that practically sealed the deal for frugal shoppers: the Commodore 64 could output to a regular television, sparing consumers the expense of buying a dedicated monitor.

By the time the Commodore 64 ceased production in 1994, the computer market had begun to fragment and the Commodore’s status as the best selling personal computer of all time became practically guaranteed as consumers would never again flock to a single computer company or particular computer model in such numbers.

Image courtesy of Commodore Business Machines.