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Commodore Pet

Manufacturer Commodore
Identification,ID Commodore PET
Date of first manufacture1977
Number produced -
Estimated price or cost? $600 ?
location in museum -
donor -

Contents of this page:

Commodore PET


Integrated computer, memory, CRT, (tiny) keyboard, tape machine, ROM with BASIC. 6502 microprocessor by MOS Technology (second sourced by Rockwell).

Designer Chuck Peddle

All you needed (except for a printer for the particular) were already assembled, adjusted, and ready to plug in and go. This was the first of the low cost personal home computers that I know of that were so equiped. With the Apple 1 you had to adjust the volume of the (not included) tape recorder to make it work.

The memory bus was extended onto a 100 pin plug on the right hand side, and there was a Hp ? HPIG ? IEEE488 interface out the back.

Special features
Machine powered up, with a BASIC prompt. You could go from there.
  • LOAD (tape program)
  • PRINT n-m (parts or all of a BASIC program)
  • SAVE (program to tape)
  • ...

Keith wrote (February 2004)
The PET was not actually just a single machine, but a whole range of them. The highest-end PET was the SuperPET 9001, which was designed to be used as a programmer's workstation. Interesting tidbit about the original PET: It has a programmable oscillator on it that is keyed to change by writing to a particular memory location. From BASIC, you could break your machine with a single POKE, by setting it too high.

Historical Notes
First machine under the Commodore brand. Later there was a Business model ?Commodore PET 2001? with 32 K memory, a conventional sized keyboard, keypad standard, optional disks, printer, ... . And a Comodore VIC 20 and a Commodore 64

Commodore later made other machines that were not based on the 8 bit 6502 processor. These included the Commodore Amiga based on the Motorola 68000.

This Artifact

Interesting Web Sites

Other information
Chuck Peddle designed the PET computer, produced and sold by Commodore.
Here is Chuck Peddle's obituary from the Wall Street Journal.
English Edition, January 1, 2020, Print Edition

Though he never became a household name, Chuck Peddle was among the peers of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates in the 1970s who transformed personal computers from curiosities for geeky hobbyists into essential tools for the masses.

Mr. Peddle led a team at MOS Technology Inc. that designed a microprocessor priced at $25, around a 10th of the cost of competing devices. The MOS 6502, introduced in 1975, served as the electronic brain for some of the earliest personal computers, including the Apple I and II, as well as for videogame consoles.

The microprocessor's low price changed the economics for personal-computer makers, allowing them to offer higher performance at affordable prices, said Douglas Fairbairn, a director at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

Mr. Peddle died of pancreatic cancer on Dec. 15 at his home in Santa Cruz, Calif. He was 82.

He was also a pioneering designer of desktop computers. When Commodore International Ltd. acquired MOS in 1976, he stayed on to design Commodore's PET computer, a popular product in the late 1970s.

After clashing with Commodore's CEO, Jack Tramiel, Mr. Peddle left to head what became Victor Technologies Inc. Victor aimed to become one of the world's three biggest computer companies. With its Victor 9000 computer, the company got off to a fast start, especially in Europe.

Within months of going public in March 1983, however, Victor was reporting losses and slashing its workforce. The market was swiftly turning to computers fully compatible with software run on IBM computers; Victor was among many contenders left behind. Mr. Peddle stepped down as Victor's CEO in late 1983. He sold some of his stock in Victor for $3 million, gaining "a nice pop in the bank account" he later told The Wall Street Journal.

In February 1984, Victor filed for protection from creditors under bankruptcy law. It was embarrassing, Mr. Peddle said later, but "you pick yourself up. You've got to try to make another run at the market."

He set up a consulting company, NNA Inc., whose initials stood for "no name available." One of his clients was Victor, under new ownership. "Chuck is a brilliant idea generator," said Eric Hass, VictorĂ­'s president. "Like any genius, he has tremendous strengths and weaknesses. We wouldn't hire him to run the company, but he's the man for technical innovations."

Charles Ingraham Peddle, known as Chuck, was born Nov. 25, 1937, and grew up on the outskirts of Augusta, Maine. His mother had been a fashion illustrator, and his father was a dealer in heavy equipment. After a car accident limited his father's ability to work, the family budget was strained. Mr. Peddle recalled shooting deer and rabbits for food.

He briefly worked on a road crew after graduating from high school and wanted to become a radio announcer. A radio audition in Boston proved disappointing, however, so he enrolled at the University of Maine, where he received an engineering degree in 1959. He also served in the Marine Corps Reserve.

Early in his career he spent 11 years at General Electric Co. as an engineer, working on projects including electronic payment systems for gas stations. After leaving GE, he set up his own short-lived company to design point-of-sale payment systems, then joined Motorola Inc., where he helped design and market microprocessors. Meetings with customers persuaded him they needed far cheaper processors. Motorola refused to support his work on a low-cost device, he said later. He defected to MOS Technology along with Bill Mensch and other colleagues.

Introduction of their MOS 6502 at a trade show in 1975 created a sensation. Mr. Peddle remembered selling about 600 in a day. Among the buyers was Steve Wozniak, a co-founder of Apple. "On the way home, I studied the chip architecture and came to the conclusion that it was the best out there," Mr. Wozniak said in an email.

After the crash of Victor, Mr. Peddle in the late 1980s worked for Tandon Corp. He led development of a portable hard-disk drive designed to make it easy to transfer programs and data from one computer to another.

Later, Mr. Peddle ran a plant in Sri Lanka that bought defective memory chips, repaired them using his patented technology and sold them to computer makers. In recent years, he developed flash-memory products.

His survivors include Kathleen Shaeffer, his companion of 35 years, along with three brothers and a sister, four children, two stepchildren, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Two marriages ended in divorce.

Ms. Shaeffer said Mr. Peddle went through "feast and famine" in his financial affairs. When he had money, she said, he often gave it away "to people he didnĂ­t even know very well."

In an interview last March with the University of Maine's alumni magazine, he summed up his engineering philosophy: "You take a dream, and you build a dream, and you keep building on it and you don't let anybody stop you."

Write to James R. Hagerty at

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Updated June 21, 2020