Tuesday, April 10, 2012


If get asked about who the father of personal computers is, most of people may probably name Conrad Zuse, or Bill Gates and his early mentor Ed Roberts. Well if we focus on the word "personal", they could be wrong.
Yesterday Jack Tramiel, The Polish-born American businessman best known for founding Commodore International passed away at the age of 83, and he's probably the one who we should point our finger at. His life is an extraordinary example of initiative, commitment and work ethic.

After the German invasion of Poland in 1939 his family was transported by German occupiers to the Jewish ghetto in Łódź, where he worked in a garment factory. When the ghettos were liquidated his family was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
In November 1947, Tramiel emigrated to the United States. He soon joined the U.S. Army, where he learned how to repair office equipment, including typewriters.
In 1955, Tramiel signed a deal with a Czechoslovak company to assemble and sell their typewriters in North America. However, as Czechoslovakia was part of the Warsaw Pact, they could not be imported directly into the U.S., so Tramiel set up Commodore Business Machines in Toronto. Tramiel wanted a military-style name for his company, but names like Admiral and General were already taken, so he settled on the Commodore name.
When Commodore released its first calculators, combining an LED display from Bowmar and an integrated circuit from Texas Instruments it found a ready market, but one day their lead designer, Chuck Peddle, told Tramiel that calculators were a dead end and computers were the future, so he was told to build one to prove the point.
Peddle responded with the Commodore PET, based on his company's MOS Technology 6502 processor. It was nothing but an instant success.
As prices dropped and the market matured, the monochrome (green text on black screen) PET was at a disadvantage in the market when compared to machines like the Apple II and Atari 800, which offered color graphics, and could be hooked to a television as an inexpensive display. Commodore responded with the VIC-20, the first personal computer to sell one million units, and then with the Commodore 64, which with several million units sold would go on to be the best-selling home computer of all time. It was during this time period that Tramiel coined the famous phrase, "We need to build computers for the masses, not the classes."
Thank you Jack.

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