Jack TramielLegendary entrepreneur Jack Tramiel, founder of Commodore and a pioneer in personal computing, died Sunday at the age of 83 in California.
Born Jacek Trzmiel in Lodz, Poland, in 1928, he was interned with his family at a Jewish ghetto after the start of World War II. Later, Tramiel's family was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Relocated to another camp at Ahlem — where his father died — Tramiel was rescued by U.S. troops in April 1945.
Emigrating to the U.S., Tramiel founded Commodore as a typewriter company in 1953, and shepherded it through the 1960s to become a major supplier of calculators and business electronics. As personal computing flourished in the 1970s and 80s, Commodore was at the forefront, releasing a number of popular models — the PET (1977), VIC-20 (1981), and the spectacularly successful Commodore 64 (1982). An icon of the 8-bit computing era, the Commodore 64 sold between 12 million and 17 million units during its lifetime, making it the most popular single personal computer model of all time.
The Commodore 64Resigning from Commodore in 1984 amid a power struggle with the board of directors, Tramiel purchased the struggling Atari Consumer Division from Warner Communications and transformed it into Atari Corp. Atari's 16-bit computer, the ST, became a major rival of the 16-bit Commodore Amiga in the mid-1980s.
Tramiel sold Atari in 1996, remaining on the board of its purchaser, JTS Corporation. He is survived by his wife Helen, their sons Gary, Sam, and Leonard, and their families.