The design of the Commodore PET 2001 was born from the mind and 6502
processor of Mr. Chuck Peddle, an engineer for the
former MOS Technologies. He was able to talk Commodore president
Jack Tramiel into giving
the home computer market a try. Tramiel agreed, and in 1977, Commodore
announced that the world's first fully-assembled home computer would
soon be available to consumers, though mail order was the only distribution
method in the initial months following its release.
"Computers for the masses, not the classes!" was Tramiel's cry, and
as a result, the PET was not only powerful (for its time), but
inexpensive. It comes with a built-in datasette, which accepts standard
audio cassettes. It has a built-in 40 column monitor. It has an
uppercase AND lowercase character set, AND a numeric keypad! To top it
off, Commodore debut the greatest character set standard the world has
ever known; PETSCII (as it is affectionately known) is a fully 8-bit
character standard (ASCII/ANSI is only 7 bit) which includes alphabetic,
numeric, mathematical symbols (including PI), cursor movements, screen
control codes, and over 50 graphic symbols which can be accessed right
from the keyboard!
The best aspect of the PET, however, is its user operating environment:
Commodore BASIC. From the very beginning, using a Commodore
computer meant looking for your "READY" prompt, and entering commands like
"LOAD", "SAVE", and "RUN". The version of BASIC used by Commodore was
actually part of a perpetual licensing agreement with Microsoft. For almost
nothing, Commodore talked the young Bill Gates into licensing his
BASIC interpretor for use in Commodore computers. Commodore would continue
to use a highly modified and upgraded version of this interpretor in their 8-bit
computers to the very end, having never paid a cent in royalties to Microsoft.
The only downside of the 2001, however, has to be the keyboard construction. As seen in the
picture, the 2001 has very calculator-like keys that are hard to press.
This, of course, came from Commodore's (then) bread-and-butter calculator
business, but was soon corrected in later 2001 models. Cosmetically, these
machines vary by color of the monitor trim (blue and black), and by the
color of the stickers (again, blue and black). Here you see the two varieties
in this collection.
Statistics, features, and PET 2001 resources:
| MOS 6502
| 4K and 8K models
Expandable to 32k addressable, more banked
| 18 Kilobytes
| MOS Technology 6545 CRTC?
9" Monochrome display
40 columns x 25 rows
| MOS 6520 PIA, MOS 6522 VIA
IEEE-488 edge-connector Port
2 Commodore Datasette ports
Male edge-connector 'EXPANSION' port
Male edge-connector CBM parallel programmable "User" port
| Calculator" 69 key QWERTY
16 key numeric keypad!
4 direction 2-key cursor-pad
Analog cassette recorder