Monday, April 6, 2015

Commodore PET

Credit: Tomislav Medak.
CPU: 6502, 1 MHz
RAM: 4 or 8 kB / 8, 16, or 32 kB
ROM: 18 kB, including BASIC 1.0 / 20 kB, including BASIC 2.0 (disk drives not supported on the original 2001)
Video: discrete TTL video circuit, 9" monochrome monitor (blue phosphor on the original 2001, green on 2001-N PETs), 40×25 character display
Sound: none / single piezo "beeper" (optional external speaker driven by MOS 6522 CB2 pin)
Ports: 2 MOS 6520 PIA, MOS 6522 VIA, 2 Datassette (1 used / 1 on the back), 1 IEEE-488
Notes: 69 key chiclet keyboard and built-in Datassette / full-sized, full-travel keyboard, no built-in Datassette
32 KB memory! Monochrome monitor! 1 whole entire MHz! Man, computer technology certainly has advanced since this Commodore came out in 1977. It amazes me that at the time, this was a top of the line computer that could be found in businesses, schools, and probably homes. I know it might sound like I'm dumping on this computer because it's not high-tech compared to today's hardware, but trust me when I say I'm not. I really and truly like old electronics because they represent markers in the evolution of technology.

American Horror Story: Oh God, Why is That So Dusty?!
Credit: Marcin Whicary

While I do especially like the design of the PET, I can't say that the keyboard is blowing my socks off. The keys look ridiculously small and the placement next to the datassette had to make it awkward to use. It seems like you would either have to hold your hands and arms at an uncomfortable angle to use the keyboard or sit just a little to the right, which would make looking at the screen awkward, since it's not directly in front of your eyes.

And remember kids, keep your electronics dust-free or else the ghost of Steve Jobs will smite your computer and turn it into a Lisa.

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