Genii Weblog

Remembering my first PET - the Commodore PET

Thu 29 May 2014, 11:13 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
I saw Kathy Brown's post about how Ant Pruitt asked whether we remember our first computer. Or at least the first one we ever used. I remember mine, and how I eventually managed to kill it.
Back in 1978, my school bought a computer that I am fairly sure was a Commodore Pet that looked something like the image below. That is, I don't remember much about what it looked like, but I remember that my good friend, Jeff, and I were the only ones remotely interested. We learned to do some things on it, simple programming and such. There were no games or anything we didn't write ourselves, but we could make it do some math and very, very simple ascii graphics. It was in a little room and we spent quite a bit of time in there. 
Eventually, Jeff got a TRS-80 kit and we played with that at his house. Nobody ever paid any attention to the little computer downstairs, and the last day of school before we graduated, we decided to open it up and see how the insides worked. After playing for a bit, we managed to fry the display, so we closed it up and left it. I have no idea how long before anybody even noticed that it didn't work anymore.

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What has been said:

1062.1. Richard Moy
(05/29/2014 02:23 PM)

We had to build our first computer from a Z80 chip kit and use a tv as a monitor. That was a trip. Then in college all of us had to program a 8080 using hexadecimal display. I guess that was better than booting a PDP-8 using toggle switches that I did later

1062.2. Brent Henry
(05/30/2014 07:42 AM)

My brother and I pooled our hard earned savings from working at McDonalds in high school and bought one of these back when they first came out. My dad thought we were crazy because he thought computers were a fad. We taught ourselves basic on it (a whole 8k of RAM!) and it was a few years before I actually took a fortran course in university. It was a lot of fun and I probably would not be a software developer today if we hadn't bought it.

1062.3. Ben Langhinrichs
(05/30/2014 08:18 AM)

Richard - I worked with kits (and TV monitors) after the PET, but am glad I started with something already put together. My hardware skills are akin to those of a turtle.

Brent - Great story, and I'm glad you and your brother took the initiative.