Peter R. Jennings

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Peter R. Jennings (born 1950) is a Canadian physicist, scientist, inventor, software developer, computer chess programmer, and entrepreneur. He is best known for creating MicroChess, the first microcomputer game to be sold commercially in 1976.[1]


Early life[edit]

Jennings was born in Bedford, England, in 1950. In the 1960s his family moved to Ontario, Canada.[2] He received an MA in physics from SUNY Stony Brook University in 1972, and a MBA in finance and marketing from McMaster University in 1974.[2]


Jennings developed MicroChess shortly after leaving graduate school in New York; the code was sold on paper, so buyers had to type in the code to activate the program.[3] MicroChess was the first software to sell over 10,000 copies.[4]

Later versions, on the Apple II and the TRS-80, sold millions of copies.[3] It was also available on the Commodore PET and Atari 400/800 platforms.[5][6][7]


The Commodore ChessMate, developed by Peter R Jennings in 1977.
The Commodore ChessMate, developed by Peter R. Jennings in 1977.

Jennings also developed the first model of the ChessMate, working for Commodore in 1977.[8]

Later years[edit]

In 1976, along with Dan Fylstra, he co-founded the corporation Personal Software, which became VisiCorp, and was involved in the creation of VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program.[9] MicroChess sales helped to finance the development of VisiCalc.[6][10]


  • January 1978: "The Second World Computer Chess Championships". BYTE. p. 108.
  • March 1978: "Microchess 1.5 vs. Dark Horse". BYTE. p. 166.
  • No date: "A Good, Long Read (for 18 Years)". Foundation RISC User Online. RISCOS Ltd.


  1. ^ " Source: MicroChess". Retrieved 2016-01-29.
  2. ^ a b VE3SUN. "Peter Jennings". Retrieved 2016-01-29.
  3. ^ a b "Computer History Museum - Chess For Everyone - Early Microcomputer Chess". Retrieved 2016-01-29.
  4. ^ "We've mentioned Peter Jennings' ground-breaking Microchess before - the first…". Retrieved 2016-01-29.
  5. ^ (, Mad Dog Productions. "IT History Society". Retrieved 2016-01-29.
  6. ^ a b Chess (Tandy Radio Shack Color Computer) (1980), 1980-01-01, retrieved 2016-01-29
  7. ^ "Scisys and Novag : The Early Years". Retrieved 2016-01-29.
  8. ^ "Secret Weapons of Commodore: The Commodore CHESSmate". Retrieved 2016-01-29.
  9. ^ Bolton, Syd. "A brief history of computer chess". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2016-01-29.
  10. ^ Szewczyk, Roman; Kaštelan, Ivan; Temerinac, Miodrag; Barak, Moshe; Sruk, Vlado (2016-01-19). Embedded Engineering Education. Springer. ISBN 9783319275406.