Personal Computer World
Volume 1 Number 1 March 1978
Graciously scanned and sent to Commodore.ca by the UK’s Arnold J Rimmer
OCR’d and posted by Commodore.ca April 7th 2004 and cleaned up Nov 24 2018
The formatting has been replicated as much as possible from the original source
C.B.M PET 2001 from Commodore Business Machines, 446 Bath Road, Slough, Berks. Tel. Burnham (06286) 3224. I have tried very hard to obtain information from them without any success. This seems to me to be very bad public relations since they have publicly displayed the machine (for example in London in May 1977) on more than one occasion. To create an interest which they then totally fail to support is not a good sign for the future. However, the product is as follows: 4K RAM, 8K BASIC ROM, 4K operating system ROM, 9 inch integral VDU, integral audio cassette (though there is no indication to what standard). The cassette system incorporates a file management system both under the operating system and under BASIC. The VDU supports a limited graphic facility and is able to display reverse field characters (black on white). Perhaps the most interesting feature is the incorporation of an IEEE-488 instrument interface and it seems reasonable to assume that C.B.M. will produce peripherals to that standard. The computer uses a MOS Technology 6502 processor and it is interesting to note that MOS Technology were recently taken over by C.B.M. Clearly they are very heavily involved here. The price of the machine is expected to be about £600 and it is to be released ‘sometime during 1978’ probably very early in 1978. There is a dearth of software for the 6502 and Commodore will be under real pressure to produce a good range. Apparently they intend to produce programs for such things as video games and inventory control. Clearly the P.E.T. 2001 will have an enormous impact when it is released.
‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating’ and it is the eventual performance of the hardware / software combination which is of real interest. Apart from the cost aspect one is interested to know what facilities are offered and how fast the system is. Particularly with large scale simulations, speed is a vital factor. To give some strictly limited guidance on the comparative speed of a number of computer systems I have collected together the execution times for a set of benchmark programs run on a number of small computers. These should be treated with caution. They simply tell you how long the computer took to execute a particular set of routines. They say nothing about other facilities which may be offered – for example string handling. They reflect the situation today and this may well radically change with faster hardware and improved writing of the BASIC interpreter. None-the-less they are interesting. The first seven benchmarks were used in a series of tests carried out in the States and published in an article in the June 1977 issue of Kilobaud. The eighth benchmark has been introduced to test the trancendental functions of the various interpreters. Unusually poor performance on this benchmark is a clear indication of the use of poor algorithms and is more a reflection on the programmer than on the machine.
OUR COVER STORY FOR THE NEXT ISSUE
A nation of PET lovers?
The PET computer is here. We have arranged with Kit Spencer of Commodore Business Machines to feature it in our next issue.
Kit Spencer, who proved to be pleasant and straightforward, says he is a renegade physicist who went into industrial electronics – and now is with Commodore Business Machines. Incidentally, he says that a new division of CBM, Commodore Systems, is being set up to handle PET in the U.K.
Kit Spencer explained the apparent lack of information from CBM during the past year. (See John Coll’s article in this issue.) His company, he says, does not believe in creating a consumer demand which it cannot satisfy quickly. Further, it does not believe in selling a computer to a personal user and leaving it at that. It wants to make sure that there is a full service, with good software and maintenance support.
He readily agreed to write an article for us about his company’s approach to personal computing. Further – a sure sign of confidence – CBM is to let us have a PET for evaluation.
Perhaps the best established computer store in Britain is the Computer Workshop Ltd, which is at Ifield Rd in London, and sells the remarkable SWPTC 6800. In the next issue we hope to have the story of its principals, Messrs. Ashbee and Burnet: how they took what must have been the difficult decision to go into the then unknown territory of personal computing, and the adventures (no other word for it) they’ve had so far. Readers can also look forward to a full evaluation of the SWPTC 6800 , in a future issue.
Hot on the heels of the PET comes the TANDY TRS80, being launched in March. We’re keeping in touch, and the signs are good that Tandy will cooperate with us in presenting its personal computer to our readers.