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The Passing of another home computer legend: Jack Tramiel dies at 83

Pete Brown - 09 April 2012

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 market.

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 ago:



posted by Pete Brown on Monday, April 9, 2012
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2 comments for “The Passing of another home computer legend: Jack Tramiel dies at 83”

  1. Peter Wonesays:
    Thanks for posting that Pete. I missed it in the news - not a TV watcher, too busy living and making things :)

    What a loss. I had a DSE S-80 (TRS-80 clone) rather than a C64 but several of my friends had them. I was so envious of 64K and colour graphics! Tramiel was a pioneer, and he had a lot of profound insights. The world is a poorer place without him.

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