Welcome to the PETSCII page, where you can find out everything you ever wanted to know about the PETSCII editor ingeniously called PETSCII. The tool lets you create character-based screens and animations for the Commodore 64, VIC-20, PET and Plus/4 computers. Enjoy!



It should be straightforward to download and unzip the package, after which you can run the version that corresponds to your operating system of choice: Linux, Mac or Windows. You need to have Java Runtime Environment 1.7 (JSE  7) or higher installed before that. The standalone versions don’t require Processing anymore, but if you’re adventurous and want to tweak the settings, get the beta package or see the src directory. You know what you’re doing 🙂

Use the GUI buttons for saving your work. The native file format is a C array, which is why the file extension should be “.c”. In addition, the automatic backup will create a file called _backup_.c in the program directory every two minutes or so. The Ref button will load a reference image (png/jpg/gif) that can be overlaid with the characters.

For showing the piece on a real machine you need to export the picture to a .prg file. At the moment animations can’t be exported as standalone executables. See the keyboard shortcuts below, and in the case of source code exports check the generated file for further instructions. Not all the export options are available for all the target platforms. The easiest way in most cases:

Nowadays there’s finally also a video tutorial on the basic functions of the editor. See here:

Mouse Buttons

Editing Commands

GUI toggles

Animation related

Modifier Keys

File Operations

Cheat Sheet

Forgot some keys? Of course you did – even I don’t remember them all. Print out this handy cheat sheet to support your failing memory:

On Macs use the Command key instead of Ctrl.


You can control some general settings with a file called prefs.txt which should be in the same directory as the actual program. So far the following settings are recognized:

Assign a new value like this: ZOOM=2. The example preference file provided in the package comes with Unix newlines. Try to fare.

There are some simple command line parameters as well. The parameters override prefs.txt.



Trying to create a reliable crossplatform application in Java is tricky business these days. If all else fails I recommend downloading the source-only version and running it straight from Processing (2.x only for now).


The compiled binaries + stable source are available right here: Note that you need to have the Java Runtime Environment installed on your system. WIP source-only release for the adventurous: or svn:// The code can be used according to the terms of the liberal WTFPL license. Bug reports can be sent to marq [at] iki [dot] fi.


Some artistic endeavours to give you a glimpse of what’s possible. Please let me know if you’ve done something with the editor, so that I can update the gallery and keep up my motivation 🙂

In addition to still images there are demos and games where the editor has been put into good use. Here’s some:

Additions and corrections most welcome, as usual.


Thanks to Dr. TerrorZ for his artworks, numerous comments and remap tables, Viznut for help with the VIC-20, Six for the SEQ conversion example, BassCadet for bug reports and Rexbeng, Man, Shine, Electric, Archmage, Hammerfist, Awsm, Redcrab and iLKke for gallery images.