The Single Button Joystick

Tag: Jack Tramiel

The (g)Olden Days

by on Mar.21, 2014, under Amiga, Retro, Short updates

chronicles“(The Amiga 500) is kind of the Rodney Dangerfield of Personal Computers, it doesn’t get much respect among the IBMs and Macs of the world’

I stumbled on to this old TV show last week and found it a fascinating insight. Yesterday’s world of computing is the focus of this blog as you would be aware, and these episodes of Computer Chronicles are a goldmine for a nostalgia buff.

I would have loved this TV show to be on air in Australia at the time. It ran from 1981 until 2002 and in its half hour, covered all computer topics from video games, software development as well as the big personalities in the computing world. I was always very uninformed as a computer loving child. I never had the chance to run my video editing business and end up a millionaire by 14.

Although everything in these older episodes are amazingly quaint, it is very important to remember just how amazing these advances were, and how far the computer had come in just a few years.Workbench 1.3

I always knew that my Amiga 500 was special, but I like it when old TV tells me I was right.

Buying a video toaster seems like a good idea… even today!

 

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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.

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