Commodore PET-specific information for cc65

Ullrich von Bassewitz,
Stefan A. Haubenthal

An overview over the PET runtime system as it is implemented for the cc65 C compiler.

1. Overview

2. Binary format

3. Memory layout

4. Platform-specific header files

5. Loadable drivers

6. Limitations

7. Other hints

8. License

1. Overview

This file contains an overview of the PET runtime system as it comes with the cc65 C compiler. It describes the memory layout, PET-specific header files, available drivers, and any pitfalls specific to that platform.

Please note that PET-specific functions are just mentioned here, they are described in detail in the separate function reference. Even functions marked as "platform dependent" may be available on more than one platform. Please see the function reference for more information.

2. Binary format

The standard binary output format generated by the linker for the PET target is a machine language program with a one line BASIC stub, which calls the machine language part via SYS. This means that a program can be loaded as BASIC program and started with RUN. It is of course possible to change this behaviour by using a modified startup file and linker config.

3. Memory layout

cc65 generated programs with the default setup run with the I/O area and the kernal and BASIC ROM enabled, which gives a usable memory range of $0400 - $7FFF (32KB machine). All ROM entry points may be called directly without additional code.

Special locations:

Text screen

The text screen is located at $8000.


The C runtime stack is located at $7FFF and growing downwards.


The C heap is located at the end of the program and grows towards the C runtime stack.

4. Platform-specific header files

Programs containing PET-specific code may use the pet.h or cbm.h header files. Using the later may be an option when writing code for more than one CBM platform, since it includes pet.h and declares several functions common to all CBM platforms.

4.1 PET-specific functions

There are currently no special PET functions.

4.2 CBM-specific functions

Some functions are available for all (or at least most) of the Commodore machines. See the function reference for declaration and usage.

4.3 Hardware access

The following pseudo variables declared in the pet.h header file do allow access to hardware located in the address space. Some variables are structures, accessing the struct fields will access the chip registers.


Access to the two PIA (peripheral interface adapter) chips is available via the PIA1 and PIA2 variables. The structure behind these variables is explained in _pia.h.


The VIA structure allows access to the VIA (versatile interface adapter). See the _6522.h header file located in the include directory for the declaration of the structure.

5. Loadable drivers

The names in the parentheses denote the symbols to be used for static linking of the drivers.

5.1 Graphics drivers

No graphics drivers are currently available for the PET.

5.2 Extended memory drivers

No extended memory drivers are currently available for the PET.

5.3 Joystick drivers

The default drivers, joy_stddrv (joy_static_stddrv), point to (pet_stdjoy_joy). (pet_ptvjoy_joy)

Driver for the Protovision 4-player adapter contributed by Groepaz. See Protovision shop for prices and building instructions. Up to two joysticks are supported. (pet_stdjoy_joy)

Driver for the standard PET userport joystick.

5.4 Mouse drivers

No mouse drivers are currently available for the PET.

5.5 RS232 device drivers

No serial drivers are currently available for the PET.

6. Limitations

7. Other hints

7.1 Passing arguments to the program

Command-line arguments can be passed to main(). Since that is not supported directly by BASIC, the following syntax was chosen:


  1. Arguments are separated by spaces.
  2. Arguments may be quoted.
  3. Leading and trailing spaces around an argument are ignored. Spaces within a quoted argument are allowed.
  4. The first argument passed to main() is the program name.
  5. A maximum number of 10 arguments (including the program name) are supported.

7.2 Program return code

The program return code (low byte) is passed back to BASIC by use of the ST variable.

7.3 Interrupts

The runtime for the PET uses routines marked as .INTERRUPTOR for interrupt handlers. Such routines must be written as simple machine language subroutines and will be called automatically by the interrupt handler code when they are linked into a program. See the discussion of the .CONDES feature in the assembler manual.

7.4 Using extended memory

The extended memory at $9000 of the CBM 8x96 may be added to the heap by using the following code:

    /* Check for the existence of RAM */
    if (PEEK(0x9000) == POKE(0x9000, PEEK(0x9000)+1)) {
        /* Add it to the heap */
        _heapadd ((void *) 0x9000, 0x2000);

8. License

This software is provided 'as-is', without any expressed or implied warranty. In no event will the authors be held liable for any damages arising from the use of this software.

Permission is granted to anyone to use this software for any purpose, including commercial applications, and to alter it and redistribute it freely, subject to the following restrictions:

  1. The origin of this software must not be misrepresented; you must not claim that you wrote the original software. If you use this software in a product, an acknowledgment in the product documentation would be appreciated but is not required.
  2. Altered source versions must be plainly marked as such, and must not be misrepresented as being the original software.
  3. This notice may not be removed or altered from any source distribution.