Retro Home Computers – Commodore Pet


Commodore Pet,
1954-1994

Toronto, Canada

Commodore 64C GEOS

Above: Chuck Peddle, MOS and Commodore engineer

Once Chuck Peddle had taken over engineering at Commodore, he convinced Jack Tramiel that calculators were already a dead end and that they should turn their attention to home computers. Peddle turned out to be correct with the calculator market becomeing nothing more than a high overhead and low return.

Peddle packaged his existing KIM-1 single-board computer design in a metal case, along with a full-travel QWERTY keyboard, monochrome monitor, and tape recorder for program and data storage, to produce the Commodore PET. From its 1977 debut, Commodore would be a computer company.

Commodore 64C GEOS

Above: MOS Kim-1

MOS Kim – 1

The MOS Kim-1 used the 6502 and ran at a respectable 1MHz but with only 1KB of RAM. Input was handled by a hexidecimal keyboard so it could be argued that it was ahead of the Apple 1 in terms of peripherals.

Commodore 64C GEOS

Above: MOS 6502 used in most 8-bit computers like the Apple 1, Atari 400 and Commodore 64

Commodore had been reorganized the year before into Commodore International, Ltd., moving its financial headquarters to the Bahamas and its operational headquarters to West Chester, Pennsylvania, near to the MOS Technology site. The operational headquarters, where research and development of new products occurred, retained the name Commodore Business Machines, Inc.

The PET computer line was used primarily in schools, due to its tough all-metal construction, but did not compete well in the home setting where graphics and sound were important.

Commodore Pet

Above: Commodore Pet

This was addressed with the introduction of the VIC-20 in 1981, which was introduced at a cost of US$299 and sold in retail stores.

The Vic-20 was intended to be more economical that the Pet. The Commodore took out aggressive ads featuring William Shatner asking consumers “Why buy just a video game?” The strategy worked.

The Commodore Pet was expandable to 96KB and was on sale for five years before being distontinued in 1982.

Commodore Pet 2001 series

Above: Commodore Pet 2001 series came with 4KB of memory