New photos of the Commodore PET 2001 prototype

Nice new images of the prototype.

Photos courtesy of Leonard Tramiel and the Commodore International Historical Society, used with permission.
Photos by Leonard Tramiel, All rights reserved.
Taken Dec 2019 at the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA.

This one of a kind prototype hasn’t been seen in many years. These are (AFAIK) the first digital high quality photos of the prototype ever. No photos of the interior are available (yet) and until now there haven’t been any photos of the rear available online.


Well, personally, while the rounded shape is attractive, I’m more fond of the angular shape that they went with for production.

It’s really amazing to me how quickly the “rounded” shape dates.

I don’t feel the classic PET 2001 looks “retro”, even today. But, boy, this one sure does. And so does the ADM-3A.

All a matter of taste, of course.

I disagree completely. The straight lines look dated to me. The curves look right to me. Like modern cars.

Ah, it’s almost as if such things were a matter of personal preference. I like that the prototype is made of wood. AIUI the angular shape in production was in recognition of costs.

The prototype was built in 1976 and shown for the first time at the Jan 1977 CES in Chicago. The case and monitor shell are made of wood. Originally painted “harvest yellow” it was re-painted and re-decorated several times in 1977 before finally settling on this color scheme.

Of course, much later on, PETs returned to the curvy look (700 and 8296)

For ref:

Thanks for the link!

To serve all preferences, there was also a lesser known, edgy prototype shown at NCC, June 1977 (depicted in BYTE, Oct. 1977, Vol. 2, No. 10, p. 55), probably made of sheet metal, with looks like right out of a contemporary SF film:

Edit: On second sight/thought, this may be wood as well.

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The finished product with those straight lines looks like a Tesla Cyber Truck! :slight_smile:

For the record, the machine I spent the most time on in my early 8-bit years was that PET 2001, with chicklet keyboard and internal tape drive. Our school had a ton of them. The computer lab had about a dozen, and every math and physics class had one as well. I spent hours after school programming and playing with those.

I had used other micros of course, like every time I went into Radio Shack, and the (sorta) local Heathkit stores playing with the H8’s and H11’s. But those were short visits. I probably spent thousands of hours in the computer lab over the years in high school.

Then of course we upgraded to the PETs with the bigger screens and proper keyboards, and more memory. I actually remember using a new 32K PET and saying out loud “You’ll NEVER need more memory than this!”

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Slightly off-topic, regarding chicklet keyboards:

Nowadays, these are just remembered as cheap (which, off course, they were), but there was more about them, which seems to be lost in translation, a somewhat futuristic feeling that keyboards, which were meant to be used by programmers, who were most likely not accustomed to regular typing, may not necessarily be the traditional ones. Hence, ortho keyboard layouts, etc. (And, before this, hex-keypads were just good enough, so why not?) I even remember a few alphabetically ordered keyboards in ortho layout.
Of, course, this would never have worked out in the long run, since, as soon as micros were used by non-programmers as well, say, in the office, converting trained touch-typists to ortho chicklet keyboards may have well qualified as regular torture. And then, the tradional keyboards had evolved for a reason…

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It’s shocking that we’ve all turned into typists!

I think perhaps I might say the angular PET is retro-retro styled, whereas the rounded PET is retro-futuristic. There is of course an interplay of fashion and economics. It has always been true, I think, that injection moulding is a great technology for producing cheap and attractive products, but it has a high setup cost and doesn’t work out economically for smaller production volumes.

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I slightly prefer the curved look, but either way I am disturbed by the inelegance of the neck. It surprises me that the infamously cost-obsessed Tramiel would go for and retain the extra complexity of the neck throughout the PET/CBM line, rather than a simpler unified body (like the ADM-3A, and later TRS-80 Model III, and such).

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Yes. I was going to say that very thing. The curved one looks like it belongs on the set of 2001 (OBVIOUSLY) A Space Odyssey.

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