Saturday, March 21, 2020

Commodore PET Integrated Cassette Drive

Commodore made many different models of cassette drives, or datasettes as they are often called. The first one was never sold individually, it was built in to the PET 2001, so it never had it's own model number.  It is often called the "white keys" cassette drive or the CT-1020 after the audio recorder it's based on. I simply refer to it as the OEM drive, even though all of them were produced by OEMs.

Commodore OEM internal cassette tape drive
Commodore OEM internal cassette tape driveCommodore OEM internal cassette tape drive (front)Commodore OEM internal cassette tape drive (bottom)

This drive first appeared in the PET 2001 in early December 1977. The labels on the door and above the keys are aluminum and were originally black with white lettering but quickly changed to black text on silver.
Black Label (photo by Giacomo M. Vernoni)Silver Label

Like the retail Sanyo cassette drive used in the prototype and pre-production units, this one also appears to be a modified audio recorder.  There is a speaker grille, a battery compartment and an opening in the front where the audio connectors and carry handle used to be.

It seems that the OEM used an audio recorder they were already producing and custom branded it for Commodore. It's unclear whether the OEM shipped these to Commodore as audio recorders which Commodore then modified, or if the OEM shipped them modified including the Commodore PCB and cable.

The audio cassette recorder version is identical except for the plastic coloring and the commodore PCB. The transport assembly was made by Musashino, the motor is from Canon.
The audio version was sold under many different brands. Below is a Precor model C-1800 R.

Commdore OEM cassette drive and OEM Audio recorderOEM Audio cassette recorder (front)Commdore OEM cassette drive and OEM Audio recorder (bottom)

Commodore OEM cassette drive (internal)OEM Audio tape recorder (internal)
Commodore OEM cassette drive (internal)OEM Audio tape recorder (internal)

This integrated cassette drive was later replaced by the model C2N, which is internally identical and most likely made by the same Taiwanese OEM. Only the plastic housing was changed and an eject feature was added.
C2N external drive
OEM drive, Black C2N and White C2NOEM drive, Black C2N and White C2N

The external version of this tape drive is exceedingly rare.  It was available to order from Commodore but it would seem that not many were sold.  Identical to the internal drive except the corner was not cut off and the cable exited where the power connector would be.
Only three examples have been seen so far.

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