Sunday, April 15, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #52 - Part 4

RIP Jack Tramiel

A bit of nostalgic news this week: Jack Tramiel, founder of Commodore International, died recently at the age of 83.

Who was that? Why should anyone remember him? Because of this:

If you don't know what that is, or rather was, let me explain.

Jack Tramiel was born in Poland in 1928. He was a Jew and during World War II, he and his family were imprisoned in concentration camps, including Auschwitz. After the war, he moved to Canada and then the US. He started a typewriter repair business which over time turned into a company making pocket calculators and then into computers.

In 1977 he introduced the Commodore PET, or Personal Electronic Transactor. One person recently described it as looking like a 1990 point-of-sale cash register, which is a pretty good description. It was clunky, it was clumsy, it didn't do much - but then again, few things short of mainframes at the time did.

In 1980 he followed that up with the VIC-20. Two years later, in 1982, came what's pictured above: the Commodore 64, so called because it had a whopping 64K of RAM. It was the first truly mass market personal computer and became (and remains) the best-selling personal computer of all time. Production ran for 10 years, from 1982 to 1992, and during that time something approaching 20 million were sold.

In 1985, I bought my first computer because I wanted to organize the newspaper clippings that were overrunning my filing cabinet. It was a Commodore 64. I loved that machine.

RIP, Jack.


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