Binary Dinosaurs Computer Museum
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Commodore P500
Having seen pictures of a B700 (or B128) I thought this was what I had here until I remembered the B700 had a monitor firmly stuck on the top and a detached keyboard like the later PET 8296s. When I saw the wee badge on the back saying 'P500' I was puzzled since I'd never heard of it; the box also talked about 'requiring' certification. Several swift web searches later I'd discovered this machine was originally aimed at being the 'P'ersonal side of the B500, which was the first in the line of CBM-II machines.
The thing that makes this one stand out is it contains 2 components of another machine that was becoming v.popular at the time that you might be aware of - the Commodore 64. Commodore had used the PET as a base and added the SID (sound) chip and VIC-II (graphics) chip to produce a Colour PET, however the P500 had been dogged from the start by management cock-ups so it ended up being massively behind schedule. The C64 was taking off so Commodore rushed a few demo models into the shops in a sort of 'hey, look at what else we're producing' move, but when the FCC (approvals board) found out they told Commodore to cease and desist and pull back all the demo units.
The slight flaw in this was that some of the shops had already sold their units!
There are several rumours as to how many machines were produced; personally I've seen serial numbers up to 1296 but others have figures from definitely 1500 to possibly 3000. As of a few years ago only half a dozen were known to exist; another rumour was that Commodore 'did an Apple' and bulldozed the remainder.
In the last 2 weeks (3rd Oct 2000) I've come across 2 other machines; one on eBay and one in the loft of an ex-collector. I think mine and his came from the same source since they're in identical condition and only 30 apart in serial numbers, which isn't bad considering their apparent rarity.
The third machine (670) has fully populated memory banks, so I'm not sure if that makes it a 192kb or 256kb machine. It's got a dodgy video out anyway, so I can't easily check.
Bit more history about mine - apparently it was brought over by a Commodore employee and destined for a shop in London, UK called Vulcan Electronics. Said collector got his from the Commodore bloke, so I think it's spooky that I end up with the other one! More pix at the bottom.
*update*. Looking thru the manuals and schematics for my PET2001 it turns out that the Commodore HQ at the time wasn't too far away from the other collector, so that explains why CBM employees were round his neck of the woods!
*update 2*. 3rd P500 arrives courtesy of Derek Harrison; this one was used quite heavily and comes boxed with a 4040 floppy drive and several disks of software........apparently it's not too happy though, so I'll have to do some work on it......
Pictures
Unboxed SN670:
Boxed SN1763:
P500 Schematics
Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Links and Resources
Secret Weapons of Commodore by Cameron Kaiser is a great starting point for P500 info.
Bo Zimmerman's P500 page
Steve Gray's CBM-II page

All images and text © Adrian Graham 1999-2017 unless otherwise noted using words. Also on