Commodore founder Jack Tramiel dead at 83

“Jack Tramiel, founder of Commodore International and crucial figure in the early history of personal computing, passed away surrounded by his family on Sunday, his family confirms,” Dave Their reports for Forbes. “He was 83 years old.”

“Tramiel was born in Poland to a Jewish family in 1928,” Their reports. “During World War II, he and his family were sent to Auschwitz, after which he and his father were sent to a labor camp called Ahlem, near Hannover. Tramiel was rescued in April 1945 and emigrated to the United States in 1947.”

Their reports, “In America, Tramiel started a typewriter repair business. Staying in the forefront of technology, his typewriters morphed into calculators, and later computers. In 1982, Commodore International launched the Commodore 64, which went on to the best-selling personal computer of all time. In 1984, after being forced to leave the company he founded, Jack bought the crumbling Atari Inc.’s Consumer Division and formed Atari Corporation.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: A true pioneer. Rest in peace, Mr. Tramiel.

In addition to our Macs, we owned Commodore-64 units with which, among other things, we attempted to wear holes through our Jumpman floppy disks and later used Commodore Amigas for broadcast television character generation (CG).

41 Comments

  1. My first computer was a German Atari ST, purchased in 1985. At the time it was considered a ‘poor man’s’ Mac, but in reality the sophisticated software the Germans developed for it made it in many ways better than a Mac. With a flatbed scanner and OCR software (yes, in the 1980s), that machine served me well as a workhorse for five years (until I bought my NeXT Workstation). Jack Tramiel graced the pages of Atari magazines for years, he was another Steve Jobs for a lot of us.

  2. My first computer was an Amiga 500 with an Amiga branded color CRT. Loved that machine.

    Stayed with Amiga until Irving Gould and Mehdi Ali destroyed Commodore. Moved to Macs after that.

    Been a wild ride…

  3. IIRC that he was also working on a so-called “Jackintosh” that was going to be the Mac killer. I don’t know whatever happened to that product but I was so torn between hoping for phenomenal success (because Tramiel was a forward-thinker) and spectacular failure (because I was a fan boy back then even).

    RIP Jack. You were one of the crazy ones of the 60s and 70s.

  4. My first computer in 1978 was a Commodore PET with a real typewriter keyboard (not the calculator version), first in a 40-column screen model, and then after a trade-in, an 80-column screen. Paired with the IEEE dual-floppy stand-alone drive and an NEC Spinwriter, it was a very serviceable word processor. And when VisiCalc came out for it, I lost A LOT of sleep – the power of a spreadsheet was amazing.

    1. I used to cruise all the computer stored in the Seattle area at that time and never saw a pet with a “real” keyboard. They all had the chiclet style keys. I had my heart set on an Apple II but couldn’t afford it so settled for TRS-80 for $499 in 1977 from the Radio Shack next door in Bellevue, WA. Played many games of Star Raiders on that machine.

      I did meet Jack while selling computers with the Byte Shop though and he was one of the people we kept track of.

      What a surprise and I hadn’t thought of him in years.

    2. Fall 1979- Freshman year of college.
      “All new students will be required to take a computer programming course (freshman level) as a University requirement. Handout at Fall preregistration”

      That meant Apple II, TRS-80 and Commodore PET computers on cassette drives, kiddies. In those days no software was available for purchase the way it is today. SW clubs (MUGS later) met to exchange programs and tips. A completely different world brought by many,but spearheaded by a few like Steve Jobs, Woz and Jack Tramiel.

      That course was my first exposure to Commodores and Apples. Bought a II and stayed the course to this day. Had a few Commodores as well. The Amiga was one bad hombre…

      Steve and Jack are now gone, but will not be forgotten.

  5. Atari ST series practically held a monopoly among the musicians in the 80s. It was the first and the only computer (ever) that had a built-in MIDI port, which very quickly sprang up a healthy selection of music sequencing software. From Dr T’s KCS (Keyboard-controlled Sequencer), to Steinberg’s Pro24 (later Cubase), to C-Lab’s Creator (and then Notator; the grand-daddy of Apple’s Logic), these were incredibly powerful tools for musicians with the MIDI instruments. In 1990 (22 years ago), I had used Notator to produce full score and parts for musicians for two major musical shows (“Sugar” and “Little Night Music”). I could complete orchestration for an entire musical number (5 – 7 mins of music) in one night, and bring the score and parts to the rehearsal in the morning. The result was practically error-free (I could hear the music I wrote, so no typos), and significantly more legible than hand-copied parts for musicians. And the old Atari Mega ST chugged away briskly and effortlessly.

    Back home, there are still many musicians who have the old Atari ST and use it for sequencing MIDI tracks, 25 years later!

  6. I wonder how many other innovative, world changing individuals never survived the concentration camps. Enjoy your well deserved life in the hereafter Mr. Tramiel.

  7. As a young man in the 1970’s I repaired Commodore adding machines, amongst others. They were very well made and I usually just had to clean them to get them working again.

      1. You gotta problem?

        1 surrounded by; in the company of: wild strawberries hidden among the roots of the trees | you’re among friends.

        It’s a huge world kiddo.

      2. The word “amongst” is allowable in British English grammar as is “whilst”… Two countries separated by a common language… Mind the gap. 😉

        And yes, I was an American living in the London area for five years… Come to think of it, I still have trouble with the British pronunciation of “oregano” and “basil”. :p

        But I digress… RIP, Jack. My old Amiga 500 and Amiga 1200 are in my Mom’s attic somewhere… Feel like playing Speedball now.

  8. My first computer was a Commodore PET (1977). But always drooled for an Apple. But here is a little background about Commodore/Apple:

    Jobs and Wozniak wanted to sell Apple to Commodore for $100K in cash and give Jobs and Wozniak $36K a year salaries.

    However, Jack Tramiel thought it was ridiculous to acquire two guys working out of a garage. Instead, in October 1976, Commodore bought MOS Technology, which developed the 6502 processor and was the heart of the Apple II.

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