Commodore Pet 4032-32N

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The Commodore PET (Personal Electronic Transactor) was a home/personal computer produced from 1977 by Commodore International. A top-seller in the Canadian and United States educational markets, it was Commodore's first full-featured computer, and formed the basis for their entire 8-bit product line. The PET has a special place in the history of micro-computers, as it was one of the biggest sellers in the 1979/1980 period, when computers were aimed at both the home and business market. Many people instantly recognise the PET as it stood out from the usual ' terminal plus box' computer.

The PET 4000 series was the final version of what could be thought of as the "classic" PET. This was essentially the later model 2000 series, but with a larger black-and-green monitor and a newer version of Commodore's BASIC programming language, Basic 4.0.

The PET 4000 series was released in May 1980, three years after the original PET 2001. Although it has the same MOS 6502 CPU, running at the same speed (1MHz), improved circuitry allowed the 4000 series to run substantially faster. Other improvements included more memory and a better keyboard.

4032 refers to 40x25 character display. The 4000 series was available with either 8K, 16K or 32K; this example in our collection is the 32K model, hence the 4032. It has four ports. An eight-bit parallel port, a port for a cassette recorder, a port that brings out the system bus, and an IEEE-488 port. Still in use today, the IEEE-488 bus is relatively complex, allowing up to 15 devices on the bus, but is mostly used for laboratory and scientific instruments.

By this point Commodore had noticed that many customers were buying the "low memory" versions of the machines and installing their own RAM chips, so the 4008 and 4016 had the sockets punched out of the motherboard.

The 4032 was a huge success in schools, where its tough all-metal construction and all-in-one design made it better able to stand up to the rigours of classroom use. Just as important in this role was the otherwise under-utilised IEEE 488 port the PET included. Used wisely, the port could be used as a simple "network" and allowed printers and disk drives (at this point in time, very expensive devices) to be shared among all of the machines in the classroom.

Commodore also released the CBM 8000 Series at about the same time as the PET 4000 Series. The 8000 Series is almost identical, except for having a 12-inch screen as standard instead of the 9-inch screen, displaying 80 characters per line of text.

Commodore apparently had legal issues with the "PET" abbreviation, and had to change it to something else. They chose "CBM", for Commodore Business Machines. It seems that in Germany, in 1976, there was already a PET - a "Programm Entwicklung Terminal", or "Programmer Development Terminal", based on a Philips X 1150 data pooling system.

Manufacturer: Commodore
Date: May 1980

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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH8092. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.


Commodore Pet 4032-32N

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