Commodore Advert - November 1977
From Sales Brochure
Commodore's philosophy: Computer PET 2001
This is a nice little 8-page A5 booklet produced for the launch of the Commodore PET, which made its debut at the Chicago Consumer Electronics Show in January 1977, months before its contemporaries the TRS-80 and Apple II. It started shipping to the public in June of that year, although it didn't make it to the UK until 1978. Shown here under its original name of the PET 2001, a backronym of Personal Electronic Transactor (or less charitably Peddle's Ego Trip, after its designer Chuck Peddle) as influenced by the Pet Rock fad of the mid 1970s created by George C. Coakley, the machine was based on the 6502 processor and came with either 4K or 8K RAM, which was expandable up to 32K, although later on Commodore took to punching out the expansion sockets so that cheaper models couldn't be bought and upgraded using third-party memory. There was an 8K BASIC ROM present, along with a 4K operating system, also in ROM. The early PETs used "chicklet" keys that were essentially left-overs from Commodore's calculators. Although these were arranged in standard QWERTY, their positions were slightly non-standard, with the keyboard being arranged in a strict grid.
A Commodore US*5M, showing the same sort of keys as used on the original 2001 PETThe PET was housed in a metal case, which was made by Commodore's office furniture division in Ontario - the largest manufacturer of budget metal office furniture in Canada. It also came with a built-in 9" monitor - the prototypes used a stripped-out Sanyo TV tube from a local electronics shop as that was the cheapest available, whereas production models used Amperex tubes, amongst others. The product photos in the leaflet showing screenshots of the PET in action appear to show this prototype, as the monitor housing shows smoothly-curved lines. The production model eschewed these in favour of straight edges as these were much cheaper to produce.
The PET initially came with a built-in cassette player, which meant that the pitch of the keys was somewhat smaller than usual, on account of having to make room. Commodore released updated versions of the PET the following year which corrected this fault by giving the 30-series models a proper keyboard and removing the cassette to an outboard unit - the one shown in this leaflet as the "2nd cassette deck".
The reason for Commodore's Canadian connection dated back to Commodore's origins in the 1950s. After being liberated from the Ahlem labour camp, which itself followed incarceration at Auschwitz, Tramiel - real name Idek (or sometimes Jacek) Trzmiel - relocated to the US. He joined the US Army and was posted to Fort Dix, where he learnt how to repair the army's office machinery. He used this experience after leaving the army to open up a typewriter repair business in New York's Bronx, where he also worked as a part-time taxi driver. He then brokered a deal with a Czechoslovakian typewriter business to assemble their typewriters in the US. However, as Czechoslovakia was part of the Communist Bloc, the components had to be imported indirectly via a new Commodore company in Toronto, Canada. By 1962, Tramiel's company was big enough to float as Commodore Business Machines, Canada. Following a financing scandal engulfing Tramiel's first chairman - C Powell Morgan - Canadian financier Ivring Gould stepped in and bought a large stake in the company, securing its future. Tramiel later visited Japan in order to understand how the Japanese were managing to undercut Commodore's mechanical adding machine business. It was here that he witnessed the new electronic desk calculators which were about to destroy Commodore's existing business and switched the company over, introducing the first electronic pocket calculators in 1971. When Texas Instruments precipitated the Calculator Wars of the mid-1970s, Commodore responded by purchasing struggling calculator chip supplier MOS Technology, with the help of a $3 million loan personally guaranteed by Gould. Commodore also went on to buy CMOS chip maker Frontier and LCD manufacturer MDSI.
text and otherwise-uncredited photos © nosher.net 2019