Jack Tramiel, founder of Commodore International and crucial figure in the early history of personal computing, passed away surrounded by his family on Sunday, his family confirms. He was 83 years old.
Tramiel was born in Poland to a Jewish family in 1928. During World War II, he and his family were sent to Auschwitz, after which he and his father were sent to a labor camp called Ahlem, near Hannover. Tramiel was rescued in April 1945 and emigrated to the United States in 1947. In 1984, after being forced to leave the company he founded, Jack bought the crumbling Atari Inc.’s Consumer Division and formed Atari Corporation.
In America, Tramiel started a typewriter repair business. Staying in the forefront of technology, his typewriters morphed into calculators, and later computers. In 1982, Commodore International launched the Commodore 64, which went on to the best-selling personal computer of all time. Tramiel also founded the Atari Corporation in 1984.
“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 working on a book about the Atari brand 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, their three sons, Gary, Sam and Leonard, and their extended families.