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Battles rage over whether the PET – supposedly standing for Personal Electronic Transactor (or something equally daft) – or the Apple II can claim to be the first desktop personal computer. Whatever: the PET’s place in history will surely be assured as it was the first computer that I ever used. Now, there’s a claim worth fighting for.

The PET was popular with British schools and colleges in the late 1970s, and so some other, far less important, people also got their first taste of computing on the machines. Examples include Lords of Midnight author, Mike Singleton, who apparently wrote a dodgy ‘Beat the Bookies’ program, as well as using a PET to run a play-by-mail games company.

The Games

Pet Invaders was even more popular than kiss chase at my primary school, but that might be a reflection on the girls in my old class. Pet Invaders could also claim to be one of the first computer games to have a ‘Namco Arcade Classics’ style clone on a more modern computer, as programmer UBIK included a faithful conversion with one of his Commodore 64 games.

People

Jack Tramiel
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Major events

January 1977
Prototype PET demonstrated at the Chicago CES show
Autumn 1979
The PET goes on sale in Europe

Emulators

Mac OS X

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iOS

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OUYA/Android

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Features

Commodore PET 2001

Came with either 4K or 8K RAM
All-in-one design featuring built-in 9″ monitor, tape deck and ‘chiclet’ keyboard
1Mhz MOS 6502 processor
A number of revisions and upgraded versions of the PET were released, including models with larger screens and ‘proper’ keyboards.