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Commodore (cbm) C108

Commodore C108

Commodore (cbm) C108

Distinctive features: An early small, low-cost, calculator.

Capabilities: 4 functions.

Display: 8 digits, separate green vacuum-fluorescent tubes.

Technology: Large Scale Integration (LSI) chips - Omron ALPHA1, ALPHA2, ALPHA3, here date coded mid-1971.  The chips also carry the letters "NE" indicating that they were manufactured by Nortec Electronics for Omron.

Size: 172 x 226 x 61 mm (6.75" x 8.9" x 2.4").

Introduced 1971.

Made in Japan by Omron Tateishi Electronic Co. for Commodore (also known as Commodore Business Machines, cbm).

Significance: This machine uses the Omron "Alpha" calculator chipset with the whole functionality of a four-function calculator squeezed into three MOS integrated circuits.  This allowed a very low-cost calculator to be produced.

"Electronics" journal in April 1971 announced[1] "The latest price cut in the hot electronic desk calculator battle was announced by Omron Tateishi Electronic Co., which will start selling an eight-digit unit for $138 in Japan next month. The new machine will be sold in the U.S. by Commodore for $199.95 [about 84 Sterling].
The new calculator is designed for line operation only. It's built around three MOS/LSI chips that Omron Tateishi claims were designed by its California subsidiary, Omron R&D, and fabricated by an undisclosed U.S. IC manufacturer.
The U.S. manufacturer was later named as Nortec Elctronics, Santa Clara, California.

The use of LSI (Large Scale Integration) integrated circuits drastically reduced the electronics components required in a calculator, which led to a much lower assembly cost and lower selling price.
The small number of components also allowed the calculator to be compact, and apart from the very simple keyboard and use of separate display tubes this machine could be mistaken for a model of the mid-1970s.

For further information about the development of the Alpha chipset used in this machine see towards the bottom of the page

Inside cbm C108

Inside the Commodore C-108.

Board of cbm C108

The circuit board of the Commodore C-108 showing the three Omron LSI (Large Scale Integration) "Alpha" integrated circuits, requiring few other components.


  1. "International Newsletter", Electronics, April 26, 1971.

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© Text & photographs copyright Nigel Tout   2000-2017  except where noted otherwise.