It's with heavy hearts that we report the death of Jack Tramiel, founder of Commodore International, who passed away at the age of 83. Tramiel, born in Poland in 1928, died while surrounded by family on Sunday, April 8, according to Forbes. He is survived by his wife Helen and their three sons, Gary, Sam, and Leonard, along with their extended families and millions of fans and the computing industry at large, including those who might not have been familiar with his name until now.
By all means an unlikely pioneer in PCs, Tramiel was a taxi driver when he founded a typewriter repair business named Commodore Portable Typewriter. His business would later morph into a typewriter manufacturing outfit before evolving into calculators and eventually computers. It began with the Computer PET, then the VIC20, and in 1982, Commodore International launched the infamous Commodore 64, still the best selling PC of all time with over 20 million units sold and the starting point for countless old school geeks who still remember typing Load"*",8,1.
"We need to build computers for the masses, not the classes," Tramiel once said, a quote that gives a glimpse into his character. You could say he was the polar opposite of Steve Jobs, who himself passed away six months ago.
Tramiel left Commodore in early 1984 and then bought the Consumer Division of Atari later that same year. By the end of the decade, his son Sam was named President and CEO, though Jack would remained involved throughout most of the 1990s.