Outwardly it resembled the VIC-20 and the Commodore 64, but with a black case and white/light gray keys. Performance-wise located between the VIC and 64, it had 16 Kilobytes of RAM with 12K available to its built-in BASIC interpreter, and a new sound and video chipset, the TED (better than the VIC, much worse than the VIC-II). The C16 also lacked a modem port. The included BASIC 3.5 was however more powerful than the C64's BASIC 2.0, and had commands for sound and high-resolution graphics (320×200 pixels), as well as simple debugging.
The Commodore 16 was never a big commercial success but enjoyed some popularity in Europe as a cheap games machine, with an array of games released in Commodore 1531 cassette format. The Commodore 16 was one of three computers in its family. The even less successful Commodore 116 was functionally and technically similar but shipped in a smaller case with a rubber chiclet keyboard and was only available in Europe. The Commodore Plus/4 shipped in a smaller case but had a 59-key full-travel keyboard, 64K of RAM, a modem port, and built-in software.