Jack Tramiel, the PC pioneer who founded the company that created the Commodore 64 home PC passed away at the age of 83. His death was confirmed by Tramiel's son, Leonard, who is also a physicist. Tramiel was born on the 13th of December, 1928 in Poland. When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, he and his family were made to live in a Jewish ghetto and later in a concentration camp in Auschwitz. In 1947, Tramiel emigrated to the United States where he joined the army and learned to repair office equipment, including typewriters. In 1953, he bought a shop in New York that would repair office machinery and called his business the Commodore Portable Typewriter. He chose the name Commodore because he wanted an army style name for his company. Words like “general” and “admiral” were already very common. In 1962, the company went public.

RIP Jack Tramiel

RIP Jack Tramiel

The advent of Japanese typewriters in the United States provided a struggle for Tramiel and Commodore, and a trip to Japan introduced him to digital calculators. That's when Commodore started getting into the business of calculators, using LED displays from Bowmar and an integrated circuit from Texas Instruments. However, soon after, Texas Instruments decided to stop supplying to Commodore and sell calculators on their own. Tramiel realized that calculators were a dead end and saw that computers were the future. In 1977, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago, Tramiel displayed the Commodore PET. It was based on his company's MOS Technology 6502 processor. The PET computers turned out to be a success, with the first wave selling primarily in Europe. The Commodore 64 was introduced in January of 1982.

The C64 featured 64 kilobytes of RAM, and at the time was compared to the Apple II. During the computer's lifetime, sales totaled between 12.5 and 17 million units. In 1984, Tramiel resigned from Commodore and founded Tramel Technology Limited. He intentionally left out the “i”, so the word would be pronounced correctly. Through this company, he bought the consumer division of Atari from Warner Communications, which was struggling because of the video games crash in 1983. Tramiel stepped away in the late 1980s, keeping his son, Sam in charge of the day-to-day functions. Tramiel co-founded the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which opened in 1993. He passed away on the 8th of April, 2012 of unknown causes. He is survived by his wife, Helen and three sons, Samuel, Leonard and Garry.

Publish date: April 11, 2012 10:23 am| Modified date: December 18, 2013 10:01 pm

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