The Single Button Joystick

Jack Tramiel 1928-2012

by on Apr.14, 2012, under Commodore 64, Retro

Last week, the computer industry lost one of its heavyweights. Jack Tramiel, founder of Commodore International, died aged 83. Unlike Steve Jobs, who was taken decades before his full run, we can marvel at the gamut of Tramiel’s achievements, knowing (as far as we can) that he finished his work on this Earth.

Wow, I didn’t know this would turn into a philosophy blog!

Tramielwas a very colourful and divisive character during the earlier years of the Personal Computer. Born in 1928 into a Jewish family in Poland, he survived the Auschwitz death camps, but like so many others lost most of his family. After

Commodore Tramiel

working for the US Army repairing typewriters he decided to go into business for himself.

He’d founded Commodore as initially an importer of typewriters, then adding machines. However by the 60’s he’d worked out (correctly) that there was soon to be no use for these products and that Japan was too difficult to compete against in these areas.

While much is made of the rivalry between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, it was really Tramiel and Commodore who began the pricing war that made personal commuters affordable. ‘For the masses not the classes’  Tramiel once proclaimed and it is something he pushed very hard. A Commodore 64 was US$595 on launch, expensive but still within the reach of most Americans, West Europeans and Australasians. The Apple Macintosh, released two years later was priced at an alarming US$2,495, affordable by only the four richest Kings of Europe, if my knowledge of the 1980s is correct. Apple did not take part in the price war, but it ended up nearly ruining Commodore. However they were in a commanding position for the rest of the eighties having surged ahead of all of its competition.

The Tramiel pricing war finished off Atari in its original form, but surprisingly, he ended up acquiring it in 1984 as Tramiel had left Commodore earlier that year. He effectively resurrected his former rival and was running the company while Atari developed their ST, the BITTER rival to the Commodore Amiga.

So I will pour one out to this amazing man. While he was not present during the Commodore’s Amiga years, I doubt there would have been an Amiga without his vital input and drive. Affordable home computing owes much to this man and his aggressive marketing and shrewd business sense.

:, , , , , ,
No comments for this entry yet...

Leave a Reply

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!