Rockwell's General Aviation Division began development of the original Commander 111 and 112 during the late 1960s, and announced its new range in late 1970. Both models featured conventional construction and a low wing configuration but the 111 had fixed undercarriage and the 112 had retractable gear. The prototype 112 first flew on December 4 1970, and was powered by a 135kW (180hp) Lycoming O360, while a prototype 111 flew for the first time late in 1971. The loss of the 112 prototype during flight testing due to the structural failure of the tail unit delayed certification and production of both models until a fix was found. Deliveries of production aircraft took place from late 1972.
Production 111s were powered by 135kW (180hp) O360s, production 112s were powered by more powerful 150kW (200hp) IO360s. Only a few 111s were built before Rockwell decided to concentrate on the higher performance retractable gear 112. The updated 112A appeared in 1974 with a higher max takeoff weight, improved cabin ventilation and detail refinements, while the turbocharged 112TC was introduced in 1976.
Also introduced in 1976 was the 114, which is basically a 112 with a more powerful six cylinder IO540. The 114 remained in production basically unchanged until production ceased in 1979, by which stage it had been named the Gran Turismo Commander. Meanwhile the improved 112B had appeared in 1977, featuring an increased max takeoff weight and the extended wingtips introduced on the 112TC. By that stage the 112TC was designated the 112TCA, later it became known as the Alpine Commander.