Commodore 64 creator dies

"We need to build computers for the masses, not the classes" — Jack Tramiel [Mercury News]


    1. Oh, that takes me back to a time when I was a lad, in bed with my Commodore 64. What an awesome little machine.

      Sad news today, but the C64 lives on.

  1. The C64 and the Commodore legacy remain beloved in spite of Jack Tramiel, not because of him.  His legacy reads more like a string of failures, bouncing from near bankruptcy repeatedly, getting kicked out of Commodore, manipulating stock, installing relatives as managers, running Atari into the ground, etc.  He was there when Commodore did neat things, but death should not change the fact that he was little more than a mean businessman at the helm of companies people liked.

  2. C64 was the first computer my family owned, and set me on my path. ROT IN HELL, TRAMIEL.  j/k  ;-)

  3. OK, Boing Boing and NBC news which covered his death last night both say he “invented the C64.” 

    Utter bullshit. The engineers at Commodore did. Tramiel gave vague specifications and they took it in their own direction. It’s worse than saying that, for example, Steve Jobs invented the Macintosh or the iPad. He at least had a lot of hands-on design input. From what I read in “On the Edge” Tramiel was generally hands off, besides setting the general direction for the product (“Computers for the masses, not the classes”… i.e. the lower end of the market). 

    He wasn’t really a visionary, aside from letting Chuck Peddle build the original PET computer. From then on, it was all reactionary… he wanted something like the Sinclair for the US market, hence the VIC-20. He wanted an “Apple killer,” hence the C64. 

    I have mixed feelings about him. He did have the foresight to get a bunch or really good engineers together. He then often second-guessed them, or got peevish when they suggested another direction. It would have been interesting had he allowed Peddle to build a second generation of business-oriented PET computers in addition to the VIC-20’s and C64’s of the world. He let minor slights get to him too easily… and often as a result did really stupid, childish things as a result. In many ways, Commodore’s success was in spite of him, rather than because of him. But listening to this around him, including Peddle whom he totally screwed over, he was also able to inspire.

  4. Just today, I talked to a group of 5th graders about being a web designer for Career Week. As part of my presentation, I included the computer I had when I was in 5th grade: a Commodore 64.

  5. Whatever his flaws I will be forever grateful for his part in the 1040ST which had more power than the overpriced Mac and any PC clone at a third of the price and a color screen too.  It made computing affordable to punks like me.   The 1040ST changed my life and though it was frustrating the way he ran the company, Atari products and software for the ST were always inexpensive relative to Apple and PC.   The internet and multi-tasking finally stopped the Atari which was just not set up for it (along with having the operating system on a chip).    Atari and the GEM graphic environment were frequently harassed by lawsuit happy Apple.  Had Apple let others remix the Xerox innovations as they had done, Windows might never had come to dominate the desktop.

  6. I think a more appropriate term would be he made the Commodore 64 a reality.  He let the engineers do their thing but also kept the costs down.  Fought the competition (a popular phrase of his “Business is war.”)

    Jack was an instrumental part of fostering low-cost home computing that we enjoy today.

  7. A _single_ one-terabyte hard drive contains roughly the same amount of memory as ALL 17 million C64 units sold.

  8. Tramiel ran Commodore during the 8-bit years, while Jay Miner was developing superior computer hardware for Atari.  Tramiel then bought Atari Computers and developed the ST while Jay Miner and co. were developing the amazing Amiga, which was later bought by… Commodore.

    I’ve just always thought that was interesting.

  9. I learned 6502 assembly and printed my first resume on one of those, hell I even  got paid to do head alignments on the 1541 disk drives at the computer store where I worked.  When they put me in front of the monochrome PCs and Apple IIs, I still recall how utterly dry and boring they seemed.  There are still three or four of C64s in a box in my basement.  I’ll have to go read more about this guys history, seems interesting.

  10. l-shift-O “*”,8,1

    i remember fondly…..also, damn there were a lot of pirated games available

    1. It was a team effort. Chuck Peddle and MOS technologies made the VIC chip for low-cost terminals and video games. Jack Tramiel told the team to come up with a low-cost computer to compete with the Apple II. And Bob Yannes (went on to found Ensoniq) had a prototype “micro PET” he built at home using parts MOS Technologies produced.

      When Tramiel saw the micro PET with the VIC chip, he knew he had his computer for the home market.

  11. I still have my C-64 with 1541 disk drive and cassette, even have the monitor. All work.
    I also had a couple of Ataris, and still have a Mega STE that works as well. I liked the publishing programs, games, flight simulators, and mostly the midi ports, which was my reasoning for buying my first synth. Endless fun!
    Thanks, Jack for your part in this, whatever it may have been.

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