Commodore founder Jack Tramiel dies at 83

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Commodore founder Jack Tramiel dies at 83

Postby Zap! » Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:13 am

Jack Tramiel, founder of Commodore and an influential figure in the early days of personal computing and video games, passes away Sunday at the age of 83.


Jack Tramiel, founder of Commodore International and former CEO of Atari International, died on Sunday at the age of 83. He was surrounded by family at the time of his passing, according to Forbes.

Famous for saying that computers should be built "for masses, not the classes," Tramiel played an important role in the early days of personal computing and video gaming, as his company introduced a line of powerful but affordable home computers, including the popular Commodore 64. The latter became the best-selling home computer of all time, with an estimated 20 to 30 million units sold, though Tramiel wasn't one to brag. In fact, he was most content when not in the spotlight.
In an interview with CNET in 2007, Tramiel said, "I'm quite happy if people do not know me." However, it's hard not to know a man whose contributions and life story are so unforgettable.

Born in Lodz, Poland on December 13, 1928, Tramiel's family was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp shortly after Germany's invasion of Poland during World War II. While his mother remained at Auschwitz, Tramiel and his father were later moved to the Ahlem labor camp near Hanover, where he remained until he was rescued by American forces in April 1945.

Tramiel then emigrated to the United States in November 1947 and learned to fix typewriters during his stint with the Army, which lead to him opening a office machinery repair shop in the Bronx in 1953 called the Commodore Portable Typewriter.

Soon, the company, which went public in 1962, went from building typewriters to calculators and finally to computers, starting with the Commodore PET in 1977 and then peaking with the best-selling Commodore 64, which debuted in January 1982. ... ies-at-83/
One burning question that will remain with him until his dying days....."Was my victory really worth the price I had to pay?"

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Darryl B.
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Re: Commodore founder Jack Tramiel dies at 83

Postby Darryl B. » Tue Apr 10, 2012 6:12 pm

Kind of mixed feelings on this one: to some ex-employees he was abusive, supposedly destroyed prototypes, didn't market the Atari 7800 as well as he could have, supposedly didn't pay vendors who made chips for the C-64, promising them he would for as long as he could until several of them went out of business, then bought them out and relieved himself of his own debt, etc. He was investigated several times for shady business practices but never charged, since there was nothing against that in the books at the time. Playtester Lance Lewis (for the Jaguar's Alien vs. Predator) also said during The Atari Times' online chat that he "never" would have left his job "if the Tramiels hadn't ruined it all".

However, some employees he was kind to, and upon reading some things about him, I didn't realize he made Atari profitable (I know Atari was losing millions by the day at one point during the crash). I have an old Electronic Games magazine from the early 80s that stated -- and probably at least 90% of all gamers (myself included) that had at least half a brain believed this -- that "games only" consoles would eventually disappear. That ended up never happening, but most of us believed it, and Jack tried to push forward that vision with computers and such. Lewis, on the other hand, still praised Sam (I think it was) Tramiel by saying he thought that Sam genuinely wanted the Jaguar to succeed as well.

So, thoughts are about 50/50 on this from me. If his alleged misbehavior/various wrongdoings didn't happen he could have been a great person. Like him or not, he did quite a few things for Atari (after all) and computers in general.