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Computing pioneer Jack Tramiel dies, aged 83

Computing pioneer Jack Tramiel dies, aged 83

Jack Tramiel's role in the creation of the Commodore 64 directly led to the subsequent explosion in the home computing market.

Home computing pioneer Jack Tramiel, founder of Commodore International and father of the most successful computer in history, has died this week aged 83.

A holocaust survivor and former Auschwitz prisoner, Tramiel shot to fame when he retooled his Commodore Portable Typewriter company to take advantage of the growing interesting in personal computing. As Commodore International, Tramiel's company launched dozens of well-known devices including the most popular home computer in history: the Commodore 64.

Built around the powerful MOS 6510 processor, which Tramiel was able to buy at rock-bottom prices and deny his competitors thanks to the acquisition of MOS Technology by Commodore, the C64 handily won the eight-bit war following its launch in 1982. With sales believed to have reached around 17 million, the Commodore 64 remains the single best-selling personal computer model in history.

Tramiel, sadly, would fall out with others at Commodore and leave the company in 1984 - just two years after the C64 hit the market - to found Tramiel Technology. If you're wondering why you haven't heard of the brand: Tramiel picked up Atari's consumer division for a song, following the famous 1983 Video Game Crash, and rebranded his company as Atari.

Sadly, Atari would never replicate the success of Commodore's C64. Its home computers, including the ST series - named for Tramiel's son Sam, who would take over the presidency of Atari until a heart attack forced his father out of retirement - failed to win market share from the likes of Amiga and Amstrad. Its consoles, too, suffered from a lack of interest due to high prices and the difficulty in programming their complex systems with the allegedly 64-bit Jaguar failing to make an impact against established rival Nintendo and newcomer Sony.

Tramiel's impact on the world of computing is not to be dismissed, however: had he not had the vision to create an affordable yet powerful home computer - a vision he described as 'computing for the masses and not the classes' - the world of technology would likely be a very different place.

Tramiel passed away peacefully on Sunday, and is survived by wife Helen and sons Sam, Gary and Leonard.

17 Comments

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Flibblebot 10th April 2012, 16:51 Quote
RIP. I remember being so excited at the first electronic calculators (mainly typing 5318008 into it, as I recall), and the C64 was the first machine that got me interested in computers and programming.

I suppose they'll be playing "Daisy, Daisy" at his funeral?
5gnMgmlKi_o
Tynecider 10th April 2012, 17:50 Quote
I had a C64 after my speccy48, great fun.
We had a modem for the C64 too IIRC
azrael- 10th April 2012, 18:37 Quote
Huge loss! To me, much more so than Steve Jobs' passing last year. The C64 was what really got me into computing and, by extension, programming.
schmidtbag 10th April 2012, 19:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azrael-
Huge loss! To me, much more so than Steve Jobs' passing last year. The C64 was what really got me into computing and, by extension, programming.

In terms of history, Tramiel is definitely a greater loss. But considering Apple continued to operate and grow his company, Jobs was kinda the more successful one.
feathers 10th April 2012, 20:14 Quote
The Zilog Z80 was a far better CPU. 6510 was awful to code.
Nexxo 10th April 2012, 20:17 Quote
End of an era. Thanks for the memories, Jack...

http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1115/697528181_3bfc06560d_o.gif

All 64K of them.
guvnar 10th April 2012, 21:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
End of an era. Thanks for the memories, Jack...

http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1115/697528181_3bfc06560d_o.gif

All 64K of them.

Aaaah the memories... happy days but when I show my 11 & 8 year old sons some of the programs that were manually coded in and the games of the day they scoff!

Kids these days eh?
azrael- 10th April 2012, 21:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
End of an era. Thanks for the memories, Jack...

http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1115/697528181_3bfc06560d_o.gif

All 64K of them.
Only if you knew how to access them. ;)
Nexxo 10th April 2012, 21:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by guvnar
Aaaah the memories... happy days but when I show my 11 & 8 year old sons some of the programs that were manually coded in and the games of the day they scoff!

Kids these days eh?

Yeah, they don't know they're born these days.
Quote:
Originally Posted by azrael-
Only if you knew how to access them. ;)

I did. I'm a geek. :D
Coltch 10th April 2012, 21:41 Quote
"Computers for the masses, not the iDiots."

I was always envious of my mates who had C64's while I had my Speccy. - that all changed in '84 when I eventually got mine!.

Who can forget Monty on the run blasting from the SID!

Sent from Bittech Android app
phinix 10th April 2012, 21:54 Quote
Actually his real name was Jacek Trzmiel:) After war he emigrated to USA and changed his name, cause original Polish name was very hard to pronounce in English:)

I remember when I got my first computer - Commodore 128! Sweet stuff, those were the times...
nemo 10th April 2012, 22:03 Quote
I finished reading "On the Edge: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore " by Brian Bagnall a couple of months ago. It was a great read, with memorable characters.

The bits describing the early chip manufacturing process were really amazing ("the engineers were given fresh socks as their own socks invariably had holes, which would cut into the red acetate sheet used to make the chip mask").

Find an extract chapter pdf here :
http://www.variantpress.com/contents/ch001.5%20TIM-KIM.pdf

In those days, when you mastered your games, you learnt how to program your own games :)
johnnyboy700 11th April 2012, 09:23 Quote
So long Jack, I was a Speccy geek back in the day but I did enjoy my Atari ST and even managed to sell it for a good price years after I bought it thanks to its in built music hardware.
Somer_Himpson 11th April 2012, 14:57 Quote
Driller on the C64...unbelievably good sound!
Somer_Himpson 11th April 2012, 15:00 Quote
Driller soundtrack...a lot of modern games could learn from how brilliantly ominous this is:-
http://season9.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/driller-loading-theme-c64/
Zero_UK 11th April 2012, 19:41 Quote
Rest in peace and thank you for what you brought to the tech world.
Crunchy 12th April 2012, 14:26 Quote
[Salutes]

Without Jack...
No Paradroid.
No Parallax.
No Io.

Without the C64, 8bit home computing in the early 80's would have been the extortionate CPC464/6128 or the slightly crippled ZX Spectrum.
Without Commodore, who's later success was largely built on the revenue the C64 generated, No Amiga.
No Amiga...what horrid words...

Thanks, Jack.
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