Father of Commodore 64 Passes Away at Age 83

Paul Lilly

It was big news when Apple co-founder Steve Jobs passed away, but how many people have heard of Jack Tramiel? Outside of tech circles, the answer is probably 'not many' and that's because Tramiel preferred to avoid the spotlight. At one time a taxi driver and an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor, Tramiel founded the company that built the Commodore 64, only best selling PC of all time and an iconic piece of computing history. Sadly, Tramiel died on Sunday, April 8 at age 83.

His wife Helen and three sons, Gary, Sam, and Leonard, were with him when he took his last breath, Forbes reports . Whether or not a huge crowd gathers for his funeral remains to be seen, but he probably would have preferred a small, simple gathering.

"I'm quite happy if people do not know me," Tramiel told CNet in an interview in 2007, the 25th anniversary of the Commodore 64.

Most people don't know him, or didn't until now, which is pretty remarkable considering his impact on computing and the PC as a gaming platform. In a way, you could credit Tramiel with pioneering the idea of affordable computing for the masses. Around $600 bought a Commodore 64, which wasn't cheap in the late 1980s, but certainly attainable.

"That was one of the reasons why I made sure that we reduced the price -- to make a fair profit, not to stop all the imports that came into the country... So I feel very responsible for that particular idea that I had, to give people a computer for the money, to make a computer for the masses, not the classes," Tramiel added.

After being rescued by the 84th U.S. Infantry Division in 1945, Tramiel emigrated to the United States two years later. In 1953, he started up a typewriter repair business. From there, he starting building typewriters, then hopped over to calculators and, finally, computers. The rest, of course, is history.

RIP Jack Tramiel.

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