It was 1982.

Our second-grade teacher, Mrs. Fife, announced one morning that “someone special” would be coming to visit our class, and that we’d be introduced to the mystery guest near the end of the day.
It turned out that the “guest” was actually a computer. Not just any computer, mind you, but a state-of-the-art Commodore PET.

“PET,” she explained, “will be our special guest in the classroom for a while.”

She went on and on about the thing, repeating important details like “PET does not like food or water”, “PET must be turned off when he is not being used” and so on. We were told that PET would be used for edcational purposes, and that we were fortunate to be the first generation of kids who would grow up using computers in school.
Nobody really cared about the legitimate uses for PET; we all knew that computers were good for one thing: video games.
The possibility that we might actually be able to play video games of some kind – any kind – at school was quite exciting to us.
However, probably sensing this, Mrs. Fife made it clear that PET’s main use would be for spelling tests and things of that nature.

“Can we play games on it?” one kid asked, daring to speak the words that we were all thinking.

“I believe there are a couple of games available, which you may be allowed to play if all your assignments are done.”

This was all we needed to know, and much excitement was sown by her words.
Unfortunately, it would be several weeks before we saw anything resembling a ‘game’ on the thing. We were treated to spelling quiz programs, basic math exercises, and the like. Eventually, a game called Trails West showed up on it, which was kind of like a primitive text adventure with simple graphics. It was pretty boring, actually. Then came Lemonade, and a few other so-so games.
Then, one day, Space Invaders showed up on PET. I’m not sure who brought it in, but we were all pretty excited to finally see a ‘real’ video game on there, something we could actually get into without any of that pesky “educational” stuff getting in the way. No, this was all about protecting earth from the deadly extended ASCII-character invaders. It didn’t teach us a thing about math or spelling, but I think we all learned a lot about war, skill and survival.
Space Invaders was pretty much the coolest game we ever saw on PET at our school, and was the game of choice for years. There were rumors of fantastic other arcade games available for PET, usually perpetuated by kids who had been to other schools at one point or another.

“At my cousin’s school, they got Pac Man and Spy Hunter on their PET.”

“At my old school, we had Donkey Kong.”

“Nuh-uhhh, you did not.”

It was difficult to tell if any of these claims were true, as they were totally unverifiable – and young boys are prone to making embellishments.
We got a lot of fun out of PET, and he was indeed a welcome guest in the classroom for many years. He’s probably sitting in a landfill somewhere right now.