Build your own Commodore PET model 8032

Build a mini version of one of history’s most iconic personal computers with Lorenzo ‘Tin Cat’ Herrera and his Commodore PET Mini, which is based on the Commodore PET model 8032.

Commodore PET — a (very) brief history

Presented to the world in 1977, the Commodore PET represents a truly iconic piece of computer history: it was the first personal computer sold to the general public. With a built-in keyboard, screen, and cassette deck, and an introductory price of US$795 — roughly $3287 today — it offered everything a home computer user needed. And it beat the Apple II to market by a few months, despite Jobs and Wozniak offering to sell their Apple II technology to Commodore in September 1976.

Commodore PET model 8032

Commodore was also the first company to license Microsoft’s 6502 BASIC, and in the 1980s the Commodore became a staple in many school classrooms, bringing about a surge in the numbers of future computer engineers — a few of which now work in the Raspberry Pi Trading office.

The Commodore PET model was discontinued in 1982, then resurrected briefly in 1986, before finally stepping aside to make way for the popular Commodore 128, 1571, and 1581 models.

Redesigning a mini PET

Based on the Commodore PET model 8032, Lorenzo Herrera’s 3D-printable remake allows users to fit an entire computer — the Raspberry Pi — inside a miniature iconic shell. Lorenzo designed this case to house a working screen, and once you connect the Pi to a Bluetooth keyboard, your Commodore PET Mini will be fully functional as well as stylish and cute as a button.

You’ll need access to a 3D printer to build your own — all parts are listed on the project’s website. You can also purchase them as a kit directly from Lorenzo if you want to save time on sourcing your own.

3D-printing the Commodore PET

To build your own Commodore PET Mini, start by visiting its official website. And if you don’t own a 3D printer, search online for your nearest maker space or 3D printing service to get the parts made.

We’re definitely going to be building our own here at Raspberry Pi, and if you build one for yourself, or use a Raspberry Pi in any iconic computer rebuild, let us know.


Misel avatar

You may want to rephrase the sentence with the Kits Lorenzo is offering. Your text sounds like he is selling the 3D printed parts when in fact they only contain the electronics.

Tom avatar

Some clarification might be in order. I believe the 1571 and 1581 were floppy disk drive peripherals.

Jeffrey Findley avatar

Agreed. I think they mean Vic-20 and C-64. Those were the follow-on computers that sold quite well.

Lorenzo avatar

Thank you guys for this post about the Commodore PET Mini, and for the RPi of course, that cutie is driving many dreams of tinkerers and hackers!

Misel, that’s right! The Commodore PET Mini is a fully documented DIY project, and I’m not selling them. I’m considering selling part kits that would include everything needed except the 3D printed parts, if a reasonable amount of people signups at the site to back up this kits, I’ll start selling them! The info is in the “Order” section of the site.

Thank you!

Thomas Mørch avatar

The 1571/1581 (and 1541) was external floppy disk drive units, used by commodore 64 and 128 computers.

scruss avatar

I wonder why he’s specifying an old 26-pin screen?

Lorenzo avatar

Hi Scruss, this is the smallest screen I could found that has a reasonable resolution (320×240) to emulate most platforms with pixel-perfect or no scaling. I wanted to create the Commodore PET Mini as small as possible but keeping the original proportions, so the screen is the piece that served as a scale basis for the whole PET. Cheers!

Bill c64 avatar

1571 and 1581 were model numbers for disk drives available, not model numbers for the computer

crumble avatar

And the C= 128 was not popular. It arived at a time where everyone waited for a cheap Amiga.

Zeb avatar

C128 was not as popular as the C64 but it did manage good sales compared to its competitors and was a good stop gap before the Amiga 500 were on the scene

Kelsey McClanahan avatar

Model numbers for the Commodore PETs were primarily made up of two combined numbers. The first 2digits designated the number of character columns across the screen. This was either 40 or 80. The second number revealed the amount of kilobytes of RAM. So a Commodore PET 8032 had an 80 character screen with 32k of RAM. Other models such as the 4016 had, you guessed it, 40 character columns across the screen and 16k of RAM.

solar3000 avatar

We had two broken PETs back in high school in the 1980s.

Peter avatar

I sense a lot of nostalgic feelings in these posts ?

Elfen avatar

Though this is great in its own right, the screen is too small for some of us with vision problems. And the 80 column (X 25 Rows) constitutes a 640X200 resolution, not a 320X200 as Commodore Characters are made from a 8X8 pixel grid. This would cause the characters to appear thin on this set up. A larger 640X200wouold be best for an 80 column screen; 320X200 would be better for 40 columns.

Great project though. I will need to look into making this but bigger.

Lorenzo avatar

Hi Elfen! Thats the “Mini” part! hehe Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any high density display that was easy to implement and also cheap, and for me the size was a priority, so I choose the easily available 320×240. The characters obviously look small, but they’re readable. It’s not recommended for long hours of PET programming, but it works super fine with the majority of videogame console emulators and even DOS and ScummVM games, most of them used resolutions around 320×240, so in most cases there’s zero scaling, which makes for some great, blocky and sharp pixels.

If you manage to fork a bigger version let me know, it would be super to take a photo of all them three!


Steve Pratt avatar

Sadly, all I get is:

This site can’t provide a secure connection uses an unsupported protocol.
Hide details
The client and server don’t support a common SSL protocol version or cipher suite. This is likely to be caused when the server needs RC4, which is no longer considered secure.

Lorenzo avatar

Hi Steve, thanks for the report! That’s really odd, never heard about that error and I wasn’t able to replicate it! Could you please let me know what browser and version are you using? Have you tried another browser, or another computer? Let me know! Thanks!

Roger Whiteley avatar

When I was in my final year in Uni in 1980 there were two micros in the whole of the department of Applied Science. A Pet and an Apple ][. The Apple ][ was in the Dept of Metallurgy and Materials Science. We played Lemonade on it. Three years later I learned Pascal on one.

Joseph Pena avatar

I remember using a Commodore Pet in elementary school, namely in the 3rd grade, back in the mid 1980s. I remember some of the teachers had their own Commodore Pet computers. Sometimes, the teachers had their classes play educational games at times.

My first computer was the Commodore Vic 20. Since I was used to using the Vic 20, the Pet wasn’t really that different in terms of loading games in BASIC.

Sadly, by the time I was in middle school the Commodore Pets at least at my elementary school seemed to have been replaced with the Apple II GS computers.

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