Jack Tramiel, founder of Commodore International and prominent figure of the early history of personal computing, passed away on Sunday. He was 83 years old.
Tramiel was born to a Jewish family in Poland in 1928. He and his family were sent to Auschwitz during World War II, he and his father were later sent to a labor camp. Tramiel was rescued in April 1945, and emigrated to the United States in 1947.
In America Tramiel started a typewriter repair business. The typewriters led to calculators, and later computers. In 1982, Commodore International launched the Commodore 64, which went on to become the best-selling personal computer of all time. In 1984, Jack was forced to leave Commodore, and bought the crumbling Atari Inc. Consumer Division to form the Atari Corporation.
“Jack Tramiel was an immense influence in the consumer electronics and computing industries. A name once uttered in the same vein as Steve Jobs is today, his journey from concentration camp survivor to captain of industry is the stuff of legends,” says Martin Goldberg, a writer currently working on a book about Atari and the early days of video games and computing with Atari Museum founder Curt Vendel.
“His legacy are the generations upon generations of computer scientists, engineers, and gamers who had their first exposure to high technology because of his affordable computers – ‘for the masses and not the classes.’”
Tramiel is survived by his wife Helen, three sons, Gary, Sam and Leonard, and their families.