One of my first computers was a Commodore 64 and I still have fond memories of trying to get a game to load (after 20 minutes) via the tape deck. I could never afford the powerful 68000 powered Amiga a few years later, so had to make do with the Atari ST. Sad news for Commodore fans as one of the pioneers behind the company has died recently.
The founding father of the company and tough businessman Jack Tramiel has died April 8th in California, aged 84.
His son Leonard Tramiel confirmed his father had died, but didn’t gave any details as to the cause.
Tramiel was a concentration camp survivor and worked on repairing typewriters in the early years. He was not a designer or engineer but was seen as a visionary right up there with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. His Commodore computers targeted the home market, starting with the PET in 1977. It cost under $1,000. He had to go head to head against the Apple II and Radio Shack TRS 80 later in the same year.
The Commodore 64 was a huge success story for Tramiel, selling millions worldwide and even today it is still remembered fondly by many (older) enthusiast users, like myself. The Commodore was one of the most important computers to drive forward gaming, alongside the Spectrum. In their peak day Commodore were bringing in $1 billion a year and held 42 percent of the US home computer market. Staggering statistics really.
Tramiel was known for his aggressive attitude and quit the company he founded after arguing with other executives and shareholders.
After this he bought Atari and wanted to turn it into a challenger to Commodore, IBM and Apple. It didn’t quite work according to plan however as he had to make 90 percent of the staff redundant. In a controversial move, he then hired all three of his sons to management positions. He said at the time “I’m going to change this company from a democracy into a dictatorship.”
The company never soared to the same heights for Tramiel and he retired in 1996. He will always be remembered for the Commodore 64.
Kitguru says: Another visionary dead this year, sad news indeed.