Apple co-founder Woz helps celebrate Commodore 64’s 25th anniversary

PC World’s Harry McCracken attended Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum’s panel on the “25th anniversary of the Commodore 64 that included (among others) Commodore founder Jack Tramiel and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak.”

McCracken writes, “Woz told a story… that I’d forgotten about, and which I always thought might be apocryphal: More than thirty years ago, Steves Jobs and Wozniak showed the Apple I to Commodore executives and entered discussions to sell their fledgling computer company to Jack Tramiel. The deal didn’t happen, and it’s just as well–I can’t imagine that even the Apple II would have emerged as the breakthrough machine it was, let alone that the Mac could have ever been built at Commodore. (I’m not even going to ask myself whether there could have been a Commodore iPod–it make my head hurt just to think about it.)”

McCracken writes, “The version of the Apple-Commodore talks I’ve heard has Steve Jobs declining to sell out, but Woz said that Commodore decided to pass in favor of building the PET 2001: ‘We got turned down—Commodore decided to build a simpler, black and white machine without a lot of the pizzazz of the Apple II.’ Woz also said that he didn’t meet with Tramiel at the time; in fact, this CNET blog post says that the two gents never met until tonight, despite the merger discussion and the fact that the Apple II used the 6502 microprocessor, a chip manufactured by a division of Commodore.”

“Tramiel was most famous for driving down the price of home computers, and he continues to revel in that reputation: I asked him what he was most proud of in his career, and he told me that it was the fact that the Commodore 64 eventually sold for just $199,” McCracken writes. “He seemed to get along famously with Woz onstage, but they both genially tweaked each other during the panel. ‘You built computers for the classes–I built them for the masses,’ he told Woz, echoing a famous Commodore slogan.”

“Woz, meanwhile, noted that the Apple II was cheaper to build than the PET 2001 and sold for three times the price. ‘We wanted to build a company that would be around for awhile,’ he told Tramiel, who’s associated with both the defunct Commodore and Atari, whose name is now used by a games company that’s not related to the computer company it was when Tramiel controlled it,” McCracken writes.

More in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Jim – TIV” for the heads up.]

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  1. My very first computer was a Vic 20 which was the predecessor to the Commodore 64. That was way back in, let’s see… 1981 ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

    Can still remember using a cassette tape for the programs.

  2. My brother had a VIC-20 and C-64. Later I owned the C-128 and the Atari 520ST. I was a kid then, and I was quite perplexed that the programs typed in from magazines (remember those?) required a C compiler, which the computer did not ship with. The Commodore computers shipped with built-in, ROM-based BASIC.


  3. Ray, while I cannot deny that the Timex was a bit of a marvel, it never gained any real traction. The C=64 did gain market traction … though the numbers seem a bit miniscule by today’s standards.
    Commodore built some excellent computers, for the time, as did Atari. My first “real” computer was an Amiga … low cost and a real OS. Apple couldn’t match it until OSX came along. But … Commodore BOUGHT that system, didn’t design it. And then they let it sit around with little more than minor updates until it died (for all intents and purposes) when the company sank. Not the computer’s fault, management problems.
    Tramiel did cut a serious swath through the business in his day, and worked with some of the best systems available. Windows has much to answer for. Commodity pricing killed two of the three real options.
    But … that’s my opinion.

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