18 Facts About Commodore PET


Commodore PET is a line of personal computers produced starting in 1977 by Commodore International.

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The name "Commodore PET" was suggested by Andre Souson after he saw the Pet Rock in Los Gatos, and stated they were going to make the "pet computer".

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At Commodore PET, Peddle convinced Jack Tramiel that calculators were a dead-end and that Commodore PET should explore the burgeoning microcomputer market instead.

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Commodore PET was officially announced in 1976 and Jack Tramiel gave Chuck Peddle six months to have the computer ready for the January 1977 Consumer Electronics Show, with his team including John Feagans, Bill Seiler, two Japanese engineers named Fujiyama and Aoji, and Jack's son Leonard Tramiel, who helped design the PETSCII graphic characters and acted as quality control.

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The PET 2001 included either or of 8-bit RAM, and was essentially a single-board computer with discrete logic driving a small built-in monochrome monitor with character graphics, enclosed in a sheet metal case that reflected Commodore's background as a manufacturer of office equipment.

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Commodore PET's machine had three faulty RAM chips and after some difficulty contacting Commodore, was mailed a set of replacement chips and installation instructions by John Feagans.

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Commodore was the first company to license Microsoft's 6502 BASIC, but the agreement nearly drove Microsoft into receivership as Commodore stipulated that they would only pay for it when the PET began shipping.

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The Commodore PET had somewhat of a competitive advantage over its Apple II and TRS-80 rivals as both were using relatively primitive integer BASICs for their first six months on the market while the Commodore PET had a full-featured BASIC with floating point support, a sophisticated screen editor, and lowercase letters, the last being a feature that the two competing platforms would not have for a few years.

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In 1979, Commodore replaced the original PET 2001 with an improved model known as the 2001-N .

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Finally, Commodore PET added a machine-language monitor to the kernel ROM that could be accessed by jumping to any memory location with a BRK instruction.

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Commodore PET contacted Microsoft to upgrade BASIC for the new machines; this resulted in the soon-to-be-familiar BASIC 2.

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Commodore PET executives were unhappy when they learned about it and it was removed from BASIC on all subsequent Commodore PET machines.

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In 1982, Commodore retired the PET line with the intention of replacing it with the B-series machines; however, they were a marketplace flop and very expensive to manufacture.

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Commodore released a High Resolution Graphic board for the PET using the Thomson EF936x graphics chip with a resolution of 512×512 pixels.

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The Commodore PET's lack of a remappable character set is a major weakness in the machine's design.

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Colour Commodore PET emulation is available in the newer versions of the Vice Emulator software.

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Commodore PET had two empty sockets on the motherboard for adding expansion ROMs, which could be a total of 8K in size.

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ETI Canada wrote that the Commodore PET was revolutionary in helping to bring personal computers to widespread use, noting the company's marketing and its targeting of inexperienced computer users with the computer's simple design.

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