The part about the OS caught my eye:
>Commodore chose the Mark-Williams "Coherent" clone for the CBM900 which is roughly UNIX System 7, but with a few twists and less features.
>The operating system is delivered on four floopy disks: Low-res and Hi-res boot, and common volume 2 & 3 with more programs. All four floppies contain a filesystem. We have made bit-for-bit images of these floppies, both on the CBM900 harddisk and offline.
And here’s a 1998 thread from the Usenet group alt.folklore.computers where Dennis Ritchie (!) recounts his experience of being sent by AT&T to evaluate whether Coherent violated their Unix copyrights: https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!msg/alt.folklore.compute...
That's Aaron's dad.
And now, looking at CBM900, I got a hint that CBM could have been something else. Quick google search, and I see that it's "Commodore Business Machines", probably inspired by IBM (International Business Machines).
Bil Herd talks about it sometimes when reviewing his old designs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPD5N43VIsk
It asserts that the 900 was an initiative by the German wing of the company, and that the Zilog CPU was considered a strange choice, in the circumstances.
The 900 was very much a US project, Germany wanted the PCs.
The C900 prototypes were manufactured in Germany however, but that was simply because they had the facilities for the large PCB's from the 8xxx series.
We have never compared the C900 physically to the A2000 in datamuseum.dk, we should do that some day.
Apple Had a z80 card for the Apple ][ as well I rembered
I do not think so but the meat memory storage is not working fully right now. I do know that things (not a PC type) like the AS/400 had physical terminal connectors well after this.
> The Commodore 900 (…) was intended as a mainframe-class machine with multitasking, timesharing, virtual memory, multi-user capabilities — what you would expect from a Typical Un#x Mainframe. System adminstration was accomplished through an X-Windows-like GUI on the workstation version of the 900; the text-only server flavour could be used as a workstation but was intended to be a standalone host.
> project officially discontinued in favour of the newly-acquired Lorraine, later becoming the Amiga.
When Commodore refrained from becoming an actual computer manufacturer…
At least with Tramiel at the helm they had a strategy of going for the long tail of the market by selling at rock bottom prices. Once he was gone they floundered around, and almost got beaten by Tramiel's Atari. It's only once they release the Amiga 500 -- which looked an awful like the 520ST case and strategy wise -- and dropped the price that they caught the lead.
When I bought my ST the 500 wasn't out yet, and the Amiga 1000 was priced way beyond my budget. The 520STfm I bought with monitor was around the same price as the Commodore 128, which I was considering before I discovered the ST.
Whole C64 design team was effed out of promised bonuses and fired/left. People like Bruce Crockett (manufacturing), Al Charpentier (VIC) and Robert Yannes (SID) went to start Ensoniq (later sold to Creative), Chuck Peddle went to Apple, Bill Mensch hung around for two years of abuse. Same with Amiga team (Jay,RJ,Needle).
Those two videos touch on the Commodore culture of curb stomping until only the weak and dumb survive:
Oral History of Chuck Peddle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enHF9lMseP8
Oral History of William David "Bill" Mensch Jr. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ne1ApyqSvm0
That said, Tramiels last pricing stunt (drastically dripping the price without preparing the distribution chain, and so hanging them out to dry) also contributed to gutting Commodores distributor network in the US in a way they never really managed to fix.
The lack of a vision going forward also caused local projects to suck up too many resources, Germanys PCs, the C16/+4 disaster and so on.
Edit: The sad story being that Commodore marketing apparently was happy with merely selling in the home computer market, where Commodore machines sold seemingly by them selves, and didn't bother to bare the hassles of the competition of the business market. – Which eventually resulted in the end of the company.
I distinctly remember picking up a copy of UnixWorld in about 1990 or so and seeing an Atari TT030 in it, with the caption "up from toyland" and a couple paragraphs describing the specs of the machine as being workstation class and it shipping with AT&T Unix and it being cost effective but how could anyone take it seriously coming from a home computer and games maker? That was the start of the last couple years for Atari and Commodore, they were both done soon after. Apple barely survived.
CBM and Atari made powerful machines that came "up" from the home computer market. IBM made underpowered machines that came "down" from a mainframe manufacturer. It was an easy choice for PHB's to go with Big Blue. As they used to say: "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM."
How Apple survived was something of a miracle. My impression is that it was because it gained early traction in certain industries with the first mass-market WIMP machine, and retained some air of "seriousness" because pre-IBM PC, 8-bit Apples were the "serious" business machine for the vast majority of companies. (Think 90,000 accountants all banging out VisiCalc* sheets.)
*The fact that iOS just auto-corrected my spelling of VisiCalc in 2019 makes my inner nerd smile.)
The precise set of brands that did well varied a lot by country, but Apple did poorly in most of Europe until the Mac started getting traction, and Commodore did well in most of Western Europe.
Part of it was that Tramiels US price war stunt figuratively burned Commodores US dealer network to the ground, but when before that done European markets, particularly Germany did far better.
Commodore was at one point one of the best known consumer brands in Germany, irrespective of category. Somewhat less so in Europe as a whole, but still a name mentioned alongside IBM etc by people who had no idea who Apple were.
Regarding Atari, it's a not too well known historical footnote that IBM was considering to acquire Atari's computer division, when IBM gave up their various efforts of introducing a consumer machine of their own in the late 1970s. (There's even an "IBM-Atari" design prototype by Tom Hardy.) A broader knowledge of this may have changed Atari's image quite dramatically.
Commodore was a very serious and successful supplier of small business computers with the 8xxx and 82xx series.
The main problem was that in this segment Commodore came out of a typewriter/calculator mindset, so there were absolutely nobody who ever thought "lets connect computers together", and that set a hard upper ceiling how how large companies they could sell to.
Once a business grew, the CBM computers were replaced, not because they were unhappy with them, but because they were not big enough.
Heck, even at Commodore we used IBM S/34 internally.