Jack Tramiel, the founder of Commodore International, and father
of such beloved computers as the PET, VIC-20, C64, C128 and others,
passed away this weekend at the age of 83.
According to many of the books I've read, Jack was often
considered a tough guy to work with, as he drove his employees and
the rest of the industry, relentlessly. Some say he even used
unfair tactics to get what he wanted.
Commodore started with typewriters and calculators. To give you
an idea of Tramiel's thriftiness and approach to business, he
wanted their PET computer to use calculator buttons, instead of a
real keyboard, because they had so many calculator buttons
otherwise going to waste.
The end result, however, was the single best selling
individual computer of all time: the Commodore 64. This computer, with any operating
system, memory, or performance upgrades, was sold for almost 14
years. During that time, the C64 had better sound and graphics than
almost any other computer available, and at a fraction of the cost.
Imagine a single computer today (not an architecture or OS family)
selling (and selling well) for that long, virtually untouched.
Semi-historical movies like "Pirates of Silicon Valley" tend to
focus only on Apple (Steve Jobs) and Microsoft (Bill Gates) when it
was Commodore that introduced more kids and adults to computers
during the 80s than just about anything else. In the middle of the
80s, Commodore had upwards of 30 to 40% of the entire home computer
My Commodore 128 in the 80s:
My current Commodore 128 (not the original one I owned, as my
parents threw that in the bin) being played by my son 3 years