In the United Kingdom, the primary competitors to the C64 were the British-built Sinclair ZX Spectrum and the Amstrad CPC 464. Released a few months ahead of the C64, and selling for almost half the price, the Spectrum quickly became the market leader. Commodore had an uphill struggle against the Spectrum as it could not rely on undercutting the competition. The C64 debuted at £399 in early 1983, while the Spectrum cost £175. The C64 would later rival the Spectrum in popularity in the latter half of the 1980s, eventually outliving the Spectrum when the latter was discontinued in December 1990.
Despite a few attempts by Commodore to discontinue the C64 in favour of other, higher priced machines, constant demand made its discontinuation a hard task. By 1988, Commodore was selling 1.5 million C64s worldwide. Although demand for the C64 dropped off in the US by 1990, it continued to be popular in the UK and other European countries. In the end, economics, not obsolescence sealed the C64's fate. In March 1994, at CeBIT in Hanover, Germany, Commodore announced that the C64 would be finally discontinued in 1995. Commodore claimed that the C64's disk drive was more expensive to manufacture than the C64 itself. Although Commodore had planned to discontinue the C64 by 1995, the company filed for bankruptcy a month later, in April 1994.
Sinclair Spectrum 48k
The original ZX Spectrum is remembered for its 'dead flesh' (rubber) keyboard, diminutive size and distinctive rainbow motif. It was originally released in 1982 with 16 KB of RAM for £125 or with 48 KB for £175; these prices were later reduced to £99 and £129 respectively. Owners of the 16 KB model could purchase an internal 32 KB RAM upgrade, which for early "Issue 1" machines consisted of a daughterboard. Later issue machines required the fitting of 8 dynamic RAM chips and a few TTL chips. Users could mail their 16K Spectrums to Sinclair to be upgraded to 48 KB versions. To reduce the price, the 32 KB extension used eight faulty 64 kilobit chips with only one half of their capacity working and/or available. External 32 KB RAMpacks that mounted in the rear expansion slot were also available from third parties. Both machines had 16 KB of onboard ROM.