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Commodore founder Jack Tramiel dies at 83

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 10 Apr 2012 2:32 User comments (20)

Commodore founder Jack Tramiel dies at 83 Jack Tramiel, founder of the company behind the Commodore 64, died on Sunday. He was 83 years old.
Tramiel founded Commodore as a typewriter repair business. Eventually the company began selling their own typewriters and later branched out into adding machines and then calculators. As plummeting pocket calculator prices in the 1970s put pressure on companies like Commodore who had to buy their microchips from competitors like Texas Instruments, Tramiel decided to acquire integrated circuit manufacturer MOS Technologies.

MOS Technologies also provided Commodore with a new lead engineer who convinced Tramiel to get out of the calculator business in favor of home computers and the Commodore PET was born. Lacking color graphics or sound, the PET failed to attract home buyers but was fairly popular in schools. It also led to the development of the VIC-20 and later the Commodore 64.

The low prices of these new computers propelled Commodore to the top of the microcomputer market for several years. According to data compiled by Jeremy Reimer, which doesn't include VIC-20 sales, the Commodore 64 outsold the Apple II from its second year on the market in 1983 until both models ceased production in 1993.

In early 1984 Tramiel left Commodore to form another computer company which purchased the consumer division of Atari a few months later and was renamed to Atari Corporation. Although none of the new company's products ever had the success of Commodore's home computers, they did include a number of revolutionary technological features such as the first MIDI port on a home computer for the Atari ST and the first color handheld game console, the Atari Lynx.

An obituary for Jack Tramiel published yesterday by the San Jose Mecury News included a fitting tribute to his influence on the computer industry:

His Commodore computers -- in addition to the 64 there was the VIC-20 and the PET -- helped open a new digital world to enthusiasts beyond the hobbyists who could build their own machines. The 64, which ranks as one of the best-selling personal computer models ever, still induces nostalgic rhapsody in its legion of one-time owners.

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20 user comments

110.4.2012 2:58

Too bad he let his incompetent sons run (ruin?) a lot of his business. I actually thought he was older.

210.4.2012 3:51

In my opinion, Jack Tramiel and his companies changed the world back in 1980s and in the 1990s much, much more than what Bill Gates and/or Steve Jobs did. Apples and PCs weren't something that Joe Average would have used in the days when the computer revolution was going on. PCs and Macs were typically seen in offices -- if you saw one in someone's home, you knew that it was paid by the dad's / mom's employer or that your friend's parents were filthy rich. No, kids of our era had C=64s in the early 1980s, Amigas and Atari STs in the late 1980s/early 1990s. PCs overtook Amigas & Ataris -- at least here in the Nordics -- only after Windows 3.1 era.

Without paving the way back in the 1980s to the mindset that computers are part of our daily lives, world would have been very much different than what it is today.

Even though Amiga wasn't Tramiel's baby -- he left the company before that era to run Atari -- he built Commodore as a company, that set the foundation to that era too.

RIP


Petteri Pyyny (pyyny@twitter)
Webmaster
http://AfterDawn.com/

310.4.2012 4:28

Ahhhhh, the good old days of Commodore & Atari that was an exciting time to be in computers. Strange i remember heading to breakfast with a friend and the hot news back then was getting 1MB of memory in single chip. There was something about the times back then which Jack Tramiel had huge effects on the computer world.

Pioneers like him will be missed and best wishes to his family an friends.

RIP Jack Tramiel you really did help make personal computers what they are today.

410.4.2012 4:33

Originally posted by dRD:
In my opinion, Jack Tramiel and his companies changed the world back in 1980s and in the 1990s much, much more than what Bill Gates and/or Steve Jobs did. Apples and PCs weren't something that Joe Average would have used in the days when the computer revolution was going on. PCs and Macs were typically seen in offices -- if you saw one in someone's home, you knew that it was paid by the dad's / mom's employer or that your friend's parents were filthy rich. No, kids of our era had C=64s in the early 1980s, Amigas and Atari STs in the late 1980s/early 1990s. PCs overtook Amigas & Ataris -- at least here in the Nordics -- only after Windows 3.1 era.

Without paving the way back in the 1980s to the mindset that computers are part of our daily lives, world would have been very much different than what it is today.

Even though Amiga wasn't Tramiel's baby -- he left the company before that era to run Atari -- he built Commodore as a company, that set the foundation to that era too.

RIP
Can't agree more Commodore and Atari had a huge effects on PC before the IBM PC was popular and/or main stream. My first programs,i wrote on an Atari 800, but there was a decent competition between Commodore and Atari that helped spur on the entire market. Both the Commodore and Atari computers helped inspire many to get into computers. I'd agree they has more effect than the Ineffective But Marketable PC did....

510.4.2012 7:11

Yes they were a lot of fun. I still have an Atari 520ST. There is a place in California that sells them and repair parts.They used to have a factory here where I live also that manufactured the Atari.

http://www.best-electronics-ca.com/text.htm

610.4.2012 8:28

The Commodore 64 was my first computer. Thank you, Mr. Tramiel for your great contributions. R.I.P.

710.4.2012 8:44

I still got all his consoles that was apart of his history locked away with the rest of my collection. RIP

810.4.2012 10:54

Good times with my C64...RIP, man. C64 was a big part of my childhood.

910.4.2012 17:50

commodore vic20 was my first, a whopping 20k, with that big ass cassette drive. I wholeheartedly agree with somebozo, to have grown up during the evolution of the computer is pretty freaking awesome.


Keep your head up, keep alert, and don't let them take you by suprise.

1011.4.2012 4:25

Originally posted by dRD:
In my opinion, Jack Tramiel and his companies changed the world back in 1980s and in the 1990s much, much more than what Bill Gates and/or Steve Jobs did. Apples and PCs weren't something that Joe Average would have used in the days when the computer revolution was going on. PCs and Macs were typically seen in offices -- if you saw one in someone's home, you knew that it was paid by the dad's / mom's employer or that your friend's parents were filthy rich. No, kids of our era had C=64s in the early 1980s, Amigas and Atari STs in the late 1980s/early 1990s. PCs overtook Amigas & Ataris -- at least here in the Nordics -- only after Windows 3.1 era.

Without paving the way back in the 1980s to the mindset that computers are part of our daily lives, world would have been very much different than what it is today.

Even though Amiga wasn't Tramiel's baby -- he left the company before that era to run Atari -- he built Commodore as a company, that set the foundation to that era too.

RIP
Excellent comment - Commodore and Atari really changed the future of gaming and music production on computers too. Such a shame about the company but hey, I've still got my C64 boxed up :)

Trin - Making Digital Waves

1113.4.2012 9:04

LOAD "goodbye_jack",8,1

1313.4.2012 10:01

Was my first computer also. I still miss the games.

ronatola: very well put

R.I.P. Jack

1413.4.2012 12:52

R.I.P. Jack. The commodore 64 is probably the core of all my enthusiasm. My family had one when I was merely 8 - 10 yrs old(late eighties). I miss the games(though I'm aware of ways of acquiring them).
Such a shame I moved away from computers in my teens. Had I not, I would likely be a programmer today :( But I'm making up for lost time!




To delete, or not to delete. THAT is the question!

1513.4.2012 14:22

Originally posted by dRD:
In my opinion, Jack Tramiel and his companies changed the world back in 1980s and in the 1990s much, much more than what Bill Gates and/or Steve Jobs did. Apples and PCs weren't something that Joe Average would have used in the days when the computer revolution was going on. PCs and Macs were typically seen in offices -- if you saw one in someone's home, you knew that it was paid by the dad's / mom's employer or that your friend's parents were filthy rich. No, kids of our era had C=64s in the early 1980s, Amigas and Atari STs in the late 1980s/early 1990s. PCs overtook Amigas & Ataris -- at least here in the Nordics -- only after Windows 3.1 era.

Without paving the way back in the 1980s to the mindset that computers are part of our daily lives, world would have been very much different than what it is today.

Even though Amiga wasn't Tramiel's baby -- he left the company before that era to run Atari -- he built Commodore as a company, that set the foundation to that era too.

RIP
Ditto!

1613.4.2012 17:24

I still wish that Commodore computers were around. I have a few old models around but not in working order. I still have vital information I need that is on file on the flabby disks. Anyway, so long Jack. Anybody waht to buy so old Computes Gazette Mags?
PHH

1713.4.2012 17:47

Originally posted by Nosredneh:
I still wish that Commodore computers were around. I have a few old models around but not in working order. I still have vital information I need that is on file on the flabby disks. Anyway, so long Jack. Anybody waht to buy so old Computes Gazette Mags?
PHH
http://www.oldsoftware.com/Commodore.html
http://www.ultraelectronicactive.com/St...eComputers.html

20 Year U.S.Army Veteran.Vietnam 1969-1972 101st Abn.Div.

1813.4.2012 22:22

RIP to an great innovator.

1915.4.2012 6:37

I still have my pocket Commodore calculator I got back in the 70's and it STILL works! The first computer I went on the Internet (BBS) with was a Vic-20. RIP Jack.

2015.4.2012 11:37
chicbuc1
Unverified new user

How time flys remember my Comadore 64 wow seems like yesterday
I still have have my compiler and checker to make my owen games
Also a BBS "bulleten board program "a forerunner to what we call
The Internet" I woud make a game ie, Pacman compile it run the checker if all is Ok save it on my com.64 you would then call my home log in and download to your computer.

One problem I only knew one person at the tme with a computer I was not very busy haha

Im retired now but still at it and now fix the oldies computers
Here in the old aged condo jail haha I get a lot of cookies they seem to like my price.

I would like to thank Jack Tramiel for giving me my life
I call computers THANKS JACK and may God Bless

G Buck

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