Retro Computers - Commodore PET - Retro Computer

Commodore PET
Commodore PET
Were you a teachers PET?

The Commodore PET (or Personal Electronic Transactor) was a home computer produced by CBM way back when huge sideys were king, purple flares reigned and chinzano bianco was considered acceptable. The year was 1977. It was CBM's first full featured computer and would form the basis for their future success.

If found a niche for itself in the Canadian and US markets, and was also put to use within the UK educational sector.

The first model was the PET 2001, including either 4KB (the 2001-4 model) or 8KB (2001-8 model) of 8-Bit RAM. It was essentially a single-board computer with discrete logic driving a small built in monochrome monitor with 40×25 character graphics. The machine also included a built-in Datasette for data storage located on the front of the case, which left little room for the keyboard.

The 2001 was announced at the 1977 Winter Consumer Electronics Show in January 1977. The first 100 units were shipped in mid October 1977. However they remained back-ordered for months, and to ease deliveries they eventually cancelled the 4 kB version early in the next year.

Although the machine was fairly successful, there were complaints about the tiny calculator style keyboard. This was addressed in upgraded 'dash N' and 'dash B' versions of the 2001.

The designers placed the cassette outside the case and included a larger keyboard with a full stroke non-click motion. Internally a newer and simpler motherboard was installed along with an upgrade in memory to 8KB, 16KB, or 32KB. These were known as the 2001-N-8, 2001-N-16 or 2001-N-32 respectively.

Sales of the newer machines were strong which prompted CBM to introduce the models into the European market. However there was already a machine called PET for sale in Europe from the huge Dutch company name Philips and the name had to be changed.

The result was the ominously titled CBM 3000 series ('CBM' standing for Commodore Business Machines), which included the 3008, 3016 and 3032 models. Like the 2001-N-8, the 3008 was quickly dropped in favour of the newer versions.

As time marched on, more and more people wanted a computer in their home. Machines soon became available that included bitmapped color graphics and sound (such as the Apple II which had been introduced later on in 1977). These features set the scene for development of arcade games on home computers.

As the power of Cinzano faded in 1979 Atari released the 400/800 and then in 1981 Commodore unleashed their bestselling VIC-20.

The mainstream business computer market of the time considered colors and graphics somewhat less of an issue, but the home user (an arcade gamer!) was intruiged by this sort of thing.

Due to the PET having no sound capability and only a monochrome display it never became known as a classic games machine and it was superceded by the glut of 8-bit machines that were released in the early 1980's.

Still, the Commodore PET is worth a look for what it acheived way back when we were all watching Star Wars. A fine retro computer.

We recommend trying to pick up one of these machines.
Look at computers for sale online or even locally.

If you don't want to get hold of the real hardware then try and download an emulator and
download those classic games. Alternatively you could try and play them online.

MACHINE TYPE: Professional Computer (no classic games here!)
BUILT IN LANGUAGE(S): Commodore Basic 1.0
KEYBOARD: 73 key 'chicklet' keyboard with a numeric keypad
CPU: 6502
SPEED: 1 mHz
RAM: 4KB in early version, then 8KB
TEXT MODES: 40 x 25
COLORS: Monochrome
I/O PORTS: IEEE 488, Parallel port, second 'user port' for 8-bit I/O, cassette port inside the case, rarely used
BUILT IN MEDIA: Tape recorder
POWER SUPPLY: Built-in power supply unit
PRICE: £700 (8KB RAM model in 1978. No wonder mainly schools bought them!)

Retro Computers and classic games


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total12 said...

However there was already a machine called PET for sale in Europe from the huge Dutch company name Philips and the name had to be changed.home safe reviews