Monday, April 09, 2012

Computing legend Jack Tramiel dies at 83

Computing legend Jack Tramiel, co-founder of Commodore, one of the early entrants among personal computing companies, passed away on Sunday at the age of 83, his family confirmed.

Born in Poland in 1928, Tramiel was a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp. After being rescued from a labor camp called Ahlem, near Hanover, Germany, he emigrated to America in 1947.

Once in America, Jack Tramiel opened a typewriter repair business, Commodore Portable Typewriter. Eventually, he began importing typewriters, but since the machines came from Czechoslovakia, he formed Commodore Business Machines to avoid issues with importing the machines into America.

The arrival of Japanese typewriters in the U.S. market forced Tramiel into a change, first to adding machines, then to calculators.

After buying MOS Technology, an IC design and semiconductor manufacturer which also supplied Commodore with calculator ICs, Tramiel was convinced by their lead designer, Chuck Peddle that calculators were a dead end and computers were the future.

First came the monochrome Commodore PET, and then, in 1982, the color Commodore 64, which became the best-selling home computer of all time.

On January 13, 1984, Tramiel resigned from Commodore. He took a break, but on July 3, 1984, he bought the Consumer Division of Atari from Warner Communications, and renamed his then Tramel Technology company Atari Corporation.

Tramiel is famous for designing in building affordable computers. His famous slogan made it clear: "We need to build computers for the masses, not the classes."

It's an interesting thought, in light of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

In 2011, Commodore re-launched with a computer that had a Commodore 64 external with modern internals.

Jack Tramiel is survived by his wife Helen, their three sons, Gary, Sam and Leonard, and their associated extended families.

No comments: