The founder of Commodore, one of the driving forces in the early history of the personal computers, has died at the age of 83. Tramiel, born in 1928 as Jacek Trzmiel to a Jewish family in Poland, emigrated to the US after the Second World War after losing his parents in Hitler's camps. Tramiel spent time at Auschwitz and at a …
Re: Thank you
Well said Sir - a beer does seem somewhat an inadequate accolade, but I am sure many of us will raise a drink to Mr. Tramiel and remember the many house of enjoyment he brought to us, and for many of us the effect his company and his equipment had on our lives.
An amazing machine that is deeply imbedded in my mind heart and childhood. God bless you, and your family.
Cheers and thanks
While I never owned a Commodore product I always lusted after them - and the BBC Micro. I ended up in the Sinclair camp but was never a brand fanboi, and the C64 (with Simons BASIC) was always a childhood want.
Thank you for your contribution Jack. Commodore produced some amazing kit and encouraged kids all over the world to discover computing.
Another person who owes him my childhood
Vic20, C64 and Atari ST - three things my childhood would have been less without and almost certainly what lead me to my career in IT.
These are the "toys" that today's children are missing out on - science thats fun.
Jack T, thank you so much.
PS I never knew you were a holocaust survivor...
I feel old...
I still remember the time spent on my STf, STe and the falcon... they are probably still rotting in my parent's basement.
RIP Jack, you helped a lot of us to discover the joys of computing.
I wonder what Shiraz Shivji is doing those days...
Vic20 as well
We do owe a lot to these early home computers.
And I do agree to the domestic market Commodore and Sinclair are the most important names
Commodore 64, my first proper computer.
Remember going through Basic manuals, system.out output would amuse me, and the old toolkit tapes for creating shoot em ups.
In the end though, I suspect it was tapes that killed it off.
It was seen as slow and cumbersome to load games off tape compared to the likes of the NES (despite the C64 having a cartridge slot, remember International Football and Fiendish Freddy?), and the lack of a disk drive (1541 an expensive peripheral) and mouse out of the box meant that it wasn't seen as a work / homework / business PC.
Like many icons there have been attempts at resurrecting the C64. The WebIt, the gaming PC towers, the new C64x. Unfortunately the original CBM company is no more, the rights to the name being passed about by these upstarts.
(A barebones C64x with a MiniITX board as a media server is still tempting though)
disk drive (1541 an expensive peripheral)
Same price as the C64 itself! It cost me £990 for the C64, 1541 and an 803 printer. 64K Ram, 180K disk storage, 1Khz clock and printer that didn't print true descenders
For the same money to day I would get 6GB ram, 750GB disk storage, a 2.3Ghz clock, a wirless colour printer/scanner.
I also have a 27 year old son who has never not had access to a computer.
re: disk drive (1541 an expensive peripheral)
Yes, that's true, but considering that it had quite a few of the same parts as in the c64 itself (less sound and graphics chips, naturally), the price wasn't that surprising. Basically, it was a fully-fledged computer in itself, albeit one dedicated to working as a drive controller.
I could never afford the 1541, but by the time I'd outgrown the tape drive, some clone drives were available that were a lot cheaper (and more slimline). I bought one of these clones (I can't remember the name, but I think it might have been by Evesham Micros) and never had any problems with it.
With this news, I'm tempted to pull the system out from the cupboard to see if it all still works. I loved playing Uridium and Zoids, but I'm sure there are dozens of other excellent games I've completely forgotten about. I just hope the floppies still work.
Thanks for all those (great) wasted hours and all the memories. RIP, Jack...
Re: re: disk drive (1541 an expensive peripheral)
Crumbs. Probably why I've never seen one in the wild.
Probably came across as a bit harsh. Cassette tape was a fine compromise in keeping the price down using a well known format. Also probably helped lower prices on software, remember those £3.99 games.
Just think that the C64 never reached it's full potential. GeOS gave it a GUI, word processor, paint app and spreadsheet. Huge functionality back then.
It's a sad day for the fans of Comodore and Atari :-(
I was one of the Atari fans, getting an Atari 65XE in the late 80's. Although I'd previously had a ZX81 it was the Atari machine that really got me interested in computers properly. I still have fond memories of typing in listings from the old Atari magazines and the manuals, and then trying to work out how to write programs (although if I'm honest the majority of the time was spent playing games on the machine).
I remember really wanting an Atari ST when I had the 65XE and then telling my Uncle to get an Atari ST over an Amiga when he was looking at getting my cousins a computer for Christmas (to be fair thinking back they might have been better with the Amiga but I was a die hard Atari fan through and through and didn't know at the time that Jack originally formed Commodore). When they got the ST I was a tad jealous and eventually got a 520STFM of my own a couple of years later (which I then eventually screwed up and sold to buy an Amiga 500).
As a life long Atari fan I'll raise a glass to Jack in honour of the great computers his companies made. I'd say if it wasn't for my old Atari I probably would have ended up doing something less interesting with my life.
Another Guru goes to his final meditation!
Action Replay... FREEZE! .. MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU
Without you I may never have started tinkering with computers.
That first VIC-20 started me on a life of pleasure.
Best photo ever
Jack and his sons, at what looks like a Ron Jeremy look-a-like contest. Superb!
Paris because she'd appreciate the likeness.
10 PRINT " RIP"
20 GOTO 10
The Man ...
... who really brought computing to the masses.
Not even a mention on the BBC news website.
I probably wouldn't be sat here typing this if it weren't for the PET, VIC20 & C64.
In the early 1990s I bought an Atari 520STfm, which is even now in the spare bedroom. It hasn't had any use for years, but my wife (yes, really) refuses to get rid of it.
We got it for the kids, then 10 and 6, to play games on, but soon we were all hooked, from Gauntlet II to Leisure Suit Larry, to Dungeon Master, to shareware games that cost next to nothing, but provided young children with hours of safe entertainment.
The range of business software on the ST is often overlooked: there were spreadsheets, word processors, DTP packages, databases, even a database for unstructured data and a hyper text system. The Atari converted my sceptical wife from typewriters to word processing and inspired her to do a course in desktop publishing.
It was real, affordable computing you could get involved with and it's sad there's nothing like it today. Jack Tramiel earned a long and peaceful rest.
Re: Sad day
".....Leisure Suit Larry, to Dungeon Master, to shareware games that cost next to nothing, but provided young children with hours of safe entertainment."
Not sure I've ever seen Leisure Suit Larry ever be said to be hours of safe entertainment for children. :-)
I too owe him one career
To me a more important figure in personal computing history than Steve Jobs. He would have loved the impact of the Raspberry Pi.
Re: I too owe him one career
"Computers for the masses, not the classes."
Apologies if I am misquoting or misattributing him.
Farewell to a genius
Now that is very sad news to read, a figure more instrumental to the home computing era than any other. Certainly the most instrumental in my career in computing and hours playing various games at a much younger age on the wood-fronted VCS console.
Who can forget the frustration of waiting 10 minutes for a game to load from tape... only for it to fail to start correctly and repeating the process. An 800 and then an 800XL followed and the interest with computer tinkering was sparked.... causing me to save everything to get my first 'ST'. What a great system, and did I really spend that much money on a Mega-ST when it came out (almost 2K IIRC!). Splendid memories of using and "improving" each one of them!
I'm happy to say I still have an Atari corner in my computer room, a Mega-ST, TT and Falcon. A few games of DropZone are definitely on the cards tonight to celebrate the life of Jack Tramiel and for what he did for so many like minds individually. Sir, I salute you! Thanks for everything, you will be missed......
10 minutes and "self test" screen :)
I can't believe that I still remember the number "230" which is the tape digit counter when "spy vs spy" loads -or doesn't-. Commodore guys on other hand had "turbo" code and happily loading same game with 30.
Commodore and Atari (before him) had really different management styles. The machine which was considered a joke compared to c64 had way better specs (800xl) and designed by Jay Miner but Commodore had excellent developer relations and documentation.
Never owned a Commodore but still remember that name from the mid 80s, when he was an easily recognisable industry figure. As C Hill pointed out, good picture at http://justclaws.atari.org/images/tramielf.jpg
RIP Jack T. --
I certainly owe Jack a salute, having cut my teeth on a commodore PET, and I'll have to wander into Scarborough and at least make a passing nod at Warden & Eglinton.
Between having had a couple of commodores (including the first cut they made at white box 8086 class systems) and having had the chance to see what their marketing folks considered "playing with the new stuff" at the Ontario Science Center on two occasions, I know that I owe "Commodore Computers Corporation" a huge thank you.
Sadly, I miss the company, its spirit and its approach to 'solutions'. I never owned Atari kit, but I can honestly say I respected the gear for its capabilities. I hope *someone* somewhere has the gumption to bring back that sort of spirit and sense of adventure in a corporation.
I never could have done what I have done without him
I bought my vic-20 with paper route money. My rich friends or my friends who had teachers for parents had Apple II's--that was not possible for me. If not for the Vic-20 who knows what I'd be doing today.
I can't begin to describe the sense of wonder that I got from figuring things out on it. First BASIC and then 6502 assembly, it was like going beyond my somewhat miserable (at the time) world.
Anybody remember the User Port?
The user port was a part of one of the two 6526 "Complex Interface Adapter" used on the C64, an upgrade from the occasionally buggy 6522 "Versatile Interface Adapter" used on the PET and the Vic-20. The 24-pin edgecard connector had quite a number of functions available, but I was interested in the six TTL-compatible lines that were otherwise not used for anything most of the time. I created two or three interfaces over a few years and ran a CNC milling machine from it. 1 MHz sounds slow today, but I calculated that the program I had written (in 6502/6510 machine language) was in wait loops more than 98% of the time.
Later on, the PaperClip word processor included software to control a Centronics printer from the interface. A few days waiting for the connectors via mail order and an afternoon of soldering and my father's Epson MX-80 was printing his notes.
It was a selection of Atari computers that I really learned to program on. An STFM, a couple of STEs and Falcon030 -- the latter was, to the best of my knowledge, one of the first (only?) two in Ireland - the other was bought by my friend. We were definitely "the masses", not "the classes". In my home town, you had to make an appointment to even LOOK at a Mac in the dealership, and even then, a system you could use to develop on was the cost of a small car.
It was also the ST that brought me my first paid programming work - a magazine cover-disk game many years ago. Seventy quid, but you've got to start somewhere!
I wonder if I still have my copy of "Atari ST Internals" by Bruckmann, Gerits and Englisch. Ah for the days when you could fully describe a system in 491 pages, including a disassembly of the boot ROM.
Trivia: The ST came to the market in the days before properly standardised 8-bit character sets - you got the basic ASCII and then 128 characters of the manufacturer's choice from 0x80 to 0xFF. Given the Tramiels' background, it was hardly surprising to see that there was a complete Hebrew alphabet in this. (no, they couldn't do right-to-left layout, though).
Re: So long...
"...it was hardly surprising to see that there was a complete Hebrew alphabet in this. (no, they couldn't do right-to-left layout, though)."
if I am not mistaking, Signum 2 could to right-to-left writing ;)
Ah those ere the days, very sad indeed...
After my ZX Spectrum, I saved up all my pocket money and bought an an Atari ST, and enjoyed using GEM years before Windows 3.11 gained traction. The SC1224 was the first proper colour monitor I had too, and very nice it was. But I even bought the SM124 Mono Monitor for the hi-res work, it too was a lovely device. I even ended up writing for ST User for a while, one of my first jobs. Had the whole caboodle for years and years before I bought an Amiga.
Thanks Jack for an affordable machine that kept me going after I'd out grown my Spectrum. You will be remembered.
RIP Amigo, and thanks
You know, there once was a kid who could not stop looking at these machines with TV screens, levers and buttons in the arcades and kept wondering how they worked.
After close to a year, and visiting each and every friend's house where one of those "computers" were and absorbing every bit of knowledge from manuals and magazines (it wasn't that strange seeing someone reading a manual for a machine he did not have) , he ended up with a Spectrum, which said kid became to knew inside out, learning Basic and Z80 assembler in the process. And some English language skills too. But all the time the kid wanted to have a C64, only to be told that it was out of reach because it was too expensive. And when the kid saw the Amiga he was simply astounded....
Not to be stopped by the "too expensive" argument any more, the kid became a freelance programmer, writing in all sort of languages and all sort of computers, programs for others to type, until he could afford to pay for himself... his first PC XT clone, complete with two floppy drives and a CGA orange monitor. Sorry Jack, the Amiga was still too expensive and I wanted something now instead of keep saving longer and longer.
But I always missed having an Amiga. The games were incredible. The operating system with windows and mouse was fascinating. The Mac seemed like a cheap clone copy in comparison.
And the rest, they say, is history. Long live to the Tramiels, Jobs and Sinclairs, who made it possible from the commercial side. And to the Altwasser, Vickersand and Wozniaks that came up with awesome machines. Thanks for everything. It is still fun sometimes.
When Commodore made a Jack a King.
God bless a man who too few recognise as one of the founding fathers of home computing.
I had a ZX81, I hated it, useless keyboard and limited connections. My friend's Vic20 was awesome by comparison. I ignored the Spectrum and saved up £90 for a C64 to replace the 81 ASAP.
Jack was the king of the hill for the years I used it and the Atari ST that replaced it as my teenage gaming hardware. Now I have a Mac but without Jack I would have had er... jack.
Rest in peace, the geeks of the 20th century salute you.
;( ;( ;(
"For the masses and not the classes" & "Power without price"
Thank you Jack for everything!
Jack Tramiel Interview (1985)
one and half hour with J. Tramiel: Commodore 64 - 25th Anniversary Celebration
Jack Tramiel from 1985.
...and new Atari with Jack at helm:
...and one GREAT C64 ad:
RIP Jack and thanks for everything... C64 to 128 to Amiga. It was a privilege to live through the most exciting days of computing, innovation and diversity. I still have a box with all my 1571 floppies in the cupboard upstairs.
I loved my C64 and even ended up writing my own assembler and BASIC toolkit as I couldn't afford the assembler cartridge! Cheers.
I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for Jack Tramiel and Commodore.
I started with a ZX81 - I wanted a Beeb, but couldn't afford one. Then a friend at college told me a C64 with Simons Basic was as good as a BBC Micro (not strictly true), so I sold the ZX81 and saved up for a C64 - I wish I'd kept the ZX81 now, as it was in mint condition!
I never did get the Simons Basic cartridge, but I really got into the C64. I taught myself assembler and also used paint programs to draw graphics in the low-res 160x200 colour mode.
It's the graphics that led to a career in computer games and I ended up working for some of the biggest publishers of that era. I'm still working in games today, 26 years later. That's an awful lot I owe to Jack and the people behind the C64.
My C64 and its 1702 monitor still works which is a testament to how well they built those machines back then.
So RIP Jack Tramiel, I'm eternally grateful for the chances you gave me via the C64.
VIC 20, 150K Modem and CompuServe
I got addicted when my father gave me a Heathkit Microprocessor Trainer. Got trained in the USAF in 1982 as a computer and switching system specialist. Bought the VIC 20, tape drive storage unit and 150k baud modem. Got on CompuServe which had to be done after 7PM and before 5AM unless you want to pay $50/hr. Rest is the greatest fun I ever had. Did it before most of you.
It was only this year that I found out how much Jack did for the computer industry. It was when I was thinking (not anymore) of buying the Steve Jobs book that I came across "Commodore: A Company on the Edge" by Brian Bagnall. Great book! After reading that I understood how much Jack and people like Chuck Peddle where instrumental to the computing industry. Without them, where would we be today?