Jack Tramiel, founder of
early computing giant Commodore, passed away this weekend aged 83, reports Forbes (via IGN). He
is survived by his wife Helen, their sons Gary, Sam and Leonard, and
a legacy that continues to influence the worlds of computing and
A Polish-born Holocaust
survivor, Tramiel was interred at Auschwitz and Ahlem before being
liberated in 1945 and emigrating to the US, whose army he joined in
1947. It was here that he learned the office equipment repair skills
that would begin his career, opening the first Commodore Portable
Typewriter store in the Bronx after the war. This led to the founding
of Toronto-based Commodore Business Machines, which would later
become Commodore International, evolving from typewriters through
calculators and adding machines until the 1977 debut of the Commodore
PET, the company's first computer.
Under Tramiel's famous maxim
of “computers for the masses, not the classes,” Commodore enjoyed
a period of industry-leading prominence during the early-mid 1980s, with the 1981
VIC-20 followed by the company's most iconic line of home computers,
the Commodore 64.
The C64 would define the
look and feel of home computing for a generation of enthusiasts, with
Tramiel negotiating the “home computer wars” of the early 1980s
by driving unit prices down to sell record numbers. Over 20 million
C64s were sold to parents who'd been assured of the machine's
homework capabilities; machines which were summarily used, alongside
the ZX Spectrum, to spearhead the “New Wave of British Bedroom
Coding” which produced series such as Dizzy and companies including
Codemasters and Rare.
After leaving Commodore,
Tramiel played a pivotal role in pulling Atari from the aftermath of
the Great Videogame Crash of 1983.
Tramiel's role in the early
days of the computer and gaming industries saw him regarded as an
early precursor to figures like Steve Jobs, says Atari biographer
Martin Goldberg: “His legacy are the generations upon
generations of computer scientists, engineers, and gamers who
had their first exposure to high technology because of his
GamesRadar is the premiere source for everything that matters in the world of video games. Casual or core, console or handheld - whatever systems you own or whatever genres you love, GamesRadar is there to filter out what's worth your time and to help you get even more from your games. We deliver the best advice, the most in-depth features, expert reviews, and the essential guides for all the top games.