Priced at under US$400 at its introduction, the 1541 became widely popular. Although expensive by today's standards, a C-64 plus a 1541 cost about $900, while an Apple II with no disk drive cost $1395. The demand caught Commodore by surprise, and they struggled to produce the drive in adequate quantities.
Failure rates on the 1541 initially were very high, and the drives were virtually impossible to find. The lead editorial in the December 1983 issue of Compute!'s Gazette lamented that four of the seven drives the magazine had in its editorial offices had failed. Eventually the problems subsided and the drive became nearly as widely available as the C-64 itself.
The Commodore 1570 was an upgraded 1541 for use with the Commodore 128
, available in Europe. It offered MFM capability for accessing CP/M disks, improved speed, and somewhat quieter operation, but was only manufactured until Commodore got its production lines going with the double-sided Commodore 1571
. Finally, the small, external power supply, MFM-based Commodore 1581 3½" drive was made, giving 800 KB access to the C128 and C-64. By this time, however, many CBM users had shifted their attention to the 16/32-bit Amiga, and the 1581 was mostly sold to remaining GEOS users.
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