Jump to content
Ransom

PET Memories

Recommended Posts

I'm reading "Commodore: A Company on the Edge," and the chapters on the creation of the PET are compelling, even though I've never owned (or even used) a PET. The chapters have made me curious about the system, so I did some searching and read up on those computers. But even so, I don't think I have much of a feel for them, so I was hoping that folks would be willing to share their own stories of using and/or owning a Commodore PET.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No time but I remember using them in junior high to program BASIC text adventure games. Some cassettes the schools library had were arcade style maze games. They really pushed what you could do with ASCII characters.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We had ONE 4016 at school in 1981, that and 4 Sinclair ZX 81's. The 4016 always made me think of Blake's 7 and other really futuristic stuff! We had a few programs on tape in BASIC(I thought it was MAGIC, there was an invaders game with only one invader!!, but back then it was very neat). Later we had a few Research Machines 380Z machines with 8 inch drives, the PET always looked cooler tho. A friend got a Vic 20 that christmas and we copied the tapes from the school PET, always wanted a Vic. Might look on ebay later TBH. :)

Best,

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember seeing on at Olson Electronics back in the 70's and wondering why they made the keyboard the way they did. I began wondering why it was so retarded.

 

Seeing has how they went back to something normal, that was ok then.

Edited by Keatah

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I briefly owned a pet 200, a nice looking computer, but i didn't know much about it so i move it over.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our elementary school had about a dozen of them, so they were one of my first introductions to computers. (That, and the TRS-80's at Radio Shack). PETs were very popular in Minnesota schools in the late '70s and very early '80s. The librarian had a drawer of cassettes, and when it was our class's computer time, she would pull one out, and load it in each of our machines, usually before we got there, but sometimes I got there in time to actually see them load. We'd play Oregon Trail, Odell Lake, and some space math game, and others. But, I just wanted to program them. I got a few books at those school fairs, and asked to spend time after school with the computers, which I was allowed to do. Typing in those programs and games from the books taught me BASIC, and that was the start of it all.

 

As the years passed, there always seemed to be a PET or PET peripherals around due to our school district having had so many of them in the past. When I was in Junior High, there was always one or two sitting in the corner, mostly unused (we had Apple ]['s and C64's by then), and even in High School there was always a random dual disk drive on top of a filing cabinet or whatever. I had moved on by then, but still thought fondly of the PETs.

 

Later, near the end of High School, I caught wind of a pallet of PETs being sold from the school's archive. Only 17, I had no money nor anyplace to store them, let alone haul them, but to this day I wonder... what if?! Here and there over the next few years, I heard similar stories of caches of PETs being sold, but always passed on them.

 

Today, I don't hear stories like this anymore, but it's still a dream of mine to own a PET. A couple years ago, there was a nearby church sale that advertised Apple and PET software. I was one of the first in line and made a beeline for the computer stuff. I did find about 100 PET educational cassettes and some Apple disks, and bought them all. I asked if they had any of the computers left, and they told me they were long gone, years ago.

 

To me, the PET is the ultimate symbol of the classic computer. A bit retro, a bit futuristic, but completely magical.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found the PET somewhat interesting (or not). I suppose because I didn't have exposure to it at the right time. I took an interest in the Apple II because it was one the first 8-bit machines where you could pop the top and see all the brain boxes inside. That was killer stuff!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My first experience with using a computer was a PET in middle school. I had an Atari and wanted to learn programming. The green screen kind of sucked but it was still fun.

 

Allan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was in Junior High, there was always one or two sitting in the corner, mostly unused (we had Apple ]['s and C64's by then), and even in High School there was always a random dual disk drive on top of a filing cabinet or whatever. I had moved on by then, but still thought fondly of the PETs.

 

Wow, great story. Thanks for sharing!

 

I'm amazed your school had dual disk drives for their PETs. Based on what I've been reading, those things were expensive!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My computer experience started with the Commodore PET in 1980. My high school had about 6 of them. The teacher that ran the after school computer club was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. The first program that I ever wrote was a dice rolling simulation on a PET. I even used the PET graphics symbols to draw the dice. Programming the PETs in BASIC lead to experimenting in assembler. This experience came in handy when I got a VIC-20 and then a C64 for home use.

 

I am also the proud owner of a PET computer. I picked it up at a surplus store for $5.00 about 15 years ago. The PET has some switches hacked inside of it that allows you to run it as either 40 or 80 columns.

 

I've worked with computers professionally since 1987. I have the PET to thank for my career in IT.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I took an interest in the Apple II because it was one the first 8-bit machines where you could pop the top and see all the brain boxes inside. That was killer stuff!

 

Ahem:

 

post-16769-0-53559400-1362180645_thumb.jpeg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ohh really? I can theorize that as a little kid I wouldn't, wasn't, allowed to lift that up. The Apple II's cover was lighter and more safe.

 

no exposed hv too

Edited by Keatah

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good point. I can theorize that Apple's eventual success was due to Commodore user accidental decapitation.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep I checked with the old man. He never let me open a Pet because of the exposed high voltages and that the lid could fall and smash my head. Not that I don't think that happened at other times!

 

With the II+ it was a safe 1/4 kilo lid and +17V max voltage. Safe stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My freshman year (1980) at McHenry West Campus (possibly not too far from where Ransom is located as it's about 10 miles south of the Wisconsin border) I was in a math class with sophomores+ as I've always been quite good at math.

 

Our teach gave us homework a month at a time. Second month of school, second week of the month he had to do something so let us work on homework in class - I pulled out my English homework. A little while later he was walking around the room to see if anybody had questions. When he saw my English homework he asked why I wasn't working on math, so I showed him my completed homework for the whole month.

 

He then took me into the math teacher's offices and showed me a Commodore PET and gave me the BASIC manual and said "have fun". I believe it was one of the 4000 series as it had the full size keyboard and an external tape drive. I learned quite a bit about computers on it, including how 5 could be not equal to 5 due to how floating point worked:

post-3056-0-15237500-1362345414_thumb.jpg

 

 

There was also a hacked up hamburger radio connected to the parallel port for audio - played a lot of Space Invaders on it :D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqs6gIZbpxo

 

The hamburger radio was probably this one that's currently up on ebay.

post-3056-0-54075000-1362344692_thumb.jpg

 

The school also had a computer class that had a couple tables set up with 6 or 7 PETs on each table. Each table also had a dual floppy drive(probably the 4040) that all the computers on that table shared via IEEE-488 . IEEE-488 supported up to 15 devices, which could be a bunch of computers sharing peripherals.

Commodore4040.jpg

 

The serial bus on the VIC 20, C=64 and C=128 was basically a serial version of the parallel IEEE-488 bus.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very cool!

 

Computer use as a reward for being good at math must have been common back when. The first time I got to use a computer was because of that same reason, but it was a Heathkit computer. A couple of years later, it was the Apple ][ when I finished my algebra work early.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ohh it was! It was!

 

I rather sucked at math, but yet achieved degrees in Cosmology/Astronomy and Electrical Engineering.. But I remember back in the day I wasn't allowed in the computer lab because my math skills were too lame. And I fucking hated the school for that. Really hated!

 

One day they had a problem with the Corvus, something to do with the settings, I don't recall precisely what it was anymore. But I told the school that if they let me in there I could fix it. 2 days went by before they took me up on my "offer". And now I used that delay for even more bargaining. I said now it's going to cost you even more, and that means you have to let me play games! Me being like a shitfaced fat-ass 6th grader with acne-oozing sores all over, with enough smell-cloud following me around to ward off any zombie attack - I always imagined they found it amusing.

 

They got the attitude of, "yah that spoiled snot ain't gonna be able to jack" but whatta we got to lose?" It was Wednesday and coming up on the weekend and the Corvus rep wouldn't be out till like next week or something I remember. I played with the switches and did some stuff with the interface cards. Not only that. I got all the computers on the network going, not just the first 2 rows.

 

I had done something not any of "bright" and "gifted" students could do. I got access to the computer room despite nearly flunking all the math courses. One of the teachers suggested I apply myself harder. I said why..I'm already smarter than you, and I don't need no math and ripped up my homework. which had "F" in red, and stomped off to lab to play Flight Simulator. I didn't get anymore flak and had access to the lab now.

 

This lab had all kinds of serious systems. Pet, Apple II, TRS-80.. But mostly Apple II if I remember. A few others. It was state of the art. It didn't have any toys like the C-64 or Atari-800 though. There were 1 or 2 other ones I didn't recognize offhand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always loved how schools liked to make kids jump through hoops to access things like the computers years ago. Same thing happened in my school system. The K-4th grade school I was in had Commodore 64s and I got to use one once and that was it because my grades weren't good enough. The 5th and 6th grade school had apple II computers, but I was never allowed to touch them. Only the popular, straight A students were allowed. In middle school I did get to go to a computer lab for half a year that used the older Macintosh Plus models. Finally, in my last few years in high school they redid the computer labs with windows units and finally opened them up fully for use to everyone who signed up by my last year of school. Sadly, I might have taken better to computers and even my schoolwork earlier if I had more access early on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was still pissed. At the beginning of summer I undid what I did, and made school pay having Corvus rep come out. I fucking hated that shithole. Gay-ass RETARDO instatooshun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm reading "Commodore: A Company on the Edge,"

 

I'm slowly going through this book too, and loving every minute of it! I take it we're reading the re-release of the book......

 

post-16281-0-16570400-1362474456_thumb.jpg

 

....but I'm curious - to those who have read BOTH this and the original.....

 

post-16281-0-01611300-1362474464_thumb.jpg

 

 

.....what new material or changes there are?

 

One thing for sure, it's really, really great nerd reading for someone who remembers the era. I'm enjoying it as much as "The Home Computer Wars," which was great.

 

There's an upcoming Amiga volume, too:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Commodore-Amiga-Years-Brian-Bagnall/dp/0973864990/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1362473804&sr=1-5&keywords=commodore

 

 

I look forward to it!

 

As an Atari Computer user, I am especially intrigued, as I don't know too much about the Commodore machines, and this book definitely increases my appreciation of them. I look at my VIC and 64 (I did not have these "back in the day") as if they are a little more special, now. I have yet to read any books on Atari computers at all, so I have nothing to compare. I hope to, and I hope it is as well-done as this book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm slowly going through this book too, and loving every minute of it! I take it we're reading the re-release of the book......

 

Yep, that's the one I'm reading. I got the kindle edition. There are some fanboyish aspects to it, but over all I think the good info in there is worth having to filter out that stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...