"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.
Ports: MOS 6520 PIA, MOS 6522 VIA
Personal Note: Having the original 2001 is a great collectors find, though it was tough going. I've received very few that actually worked, despite having SIX or so 320008 motherboards to pick from. Eventually, an eBay auction provided a working model for me. The 2001-4, however, came from the fabled George Page collection. The built in cassette drive is very convenient, and is a feature they should have kept in later models.
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