A tribute to Jack Tramiel, father of Commodore 64 (gallery)

A tribute to Jack Tramiel, father of Commodore 64 (gallery)

Summary: Jack Tramiel was the king of the computer industry in the 1980s when the market for home computers first took off.

TOPICS: Hardware, CXO

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  • Tramiel made his best move by buying chipmaker MOS Technologies which owned the 8-bit 6502 chip that became the dominant CPU for several years. You could find it in many Commodore products including the C64 and in other well-known computers such as the Apple I, Atari 400/800, and Apple II.

    He used his chip to undercut the prices of his competitors leading to the success of Commodore Computers.

  • The first Commodore computer built during Tramiel's tenure was called the PET 2001 or Personal Electronic Transactor and was released in 1977. According to the Commodore PET Alive fan site: it "was a fully integrated computer with the monitor, motherboard, keyboard and cassette drive all in one package" - a big advantage over the competition.

    The first PET models had 4KB of RAM and a black-and-white screen of 40x25 character graphics. Later models featured 8KB RAM and 12-inch screens. It also had a chicklet keyboard.

    PET's astounding early success was a big surprise to Commodore leading to major backorders soon after it was launched.


  • Three years later, the VIC-20 showed up as a cheaper alternative to the PET 2001. It was limited with 5KB of RAM (3.5KB useable) but it did have a 40-KB add-on memory cartridge. The VIC-20 did have a real keyboard and sold at retail stores (K-Mart) for $299.99. It also featured the first modem under $100.

    The VIC-20 was the best-selling computer in 1982, with 800,000 units sold. It was quickly forgotten after the new and improved Commodore 64 was released in 1983.

Topics: Hardware, CXO

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  • Heck of a life

    Never thought about his life.
    He experienced a lot.
    I remember working on commercial equipment with the old 6800 chip.
    Way way back when.
  • Atari 520 ST

    Boy, the Atari ST sure brings back memory. Even todays PC doesn't have such a nice design