Jack Tamiel, industry pioneer and founder of the earliest personal computers, the Commodore PET, and C64 range passed away on Sunday, April 8. According to The Globe and Mail, Mr. Tamiel’s son Leonard confirmed his father’s death.
Mr. Tamiel, the son of polish-born immigrants who had survived the Auschwitz concentration camps, emigrated to the US in the late 1940s and worked at maintaining typewriters for the US Army. He later started his own typewriter manufacturing business Commodore International, before moving into the calculator business.
When Texas Instruments (TI) chips, used in all calculator production at the time, shot up their price, Tamiel began looking around for a chip manufacturing company to buy outright. This was in the mid 1970s when Steve Jobs was on the circuit. He and Wozniak demonstrated their Apple II prototype to Commodore hoping for a sale. But Commodore found their price too high (not much has changed!) and instead created the Commodore PET 2001 in time for the 1977 Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago. The first Commodore PET 2001 computers were built with 6502 processors that controlled the keyboard, screen, cassette tape recorders and expansion ports. The first models included either 4 kB or 8 kB of 8-bit RAM with a cassette reader on the keyboard itself. Tamiel’s work during this time sowed the seeds for what ultimately became the popular home and games machine in the early 1980s, the C64 at a time.
Jack Tamiel was outsted from Commodore after a stockholder dispute and moved on to acquire Atari where he continued his gaming market development that he had first began with the C64. He will be remembered for popularising home computers and games, “We sell to the masses and not the classes,” he is quoted as saying.
The Commodore Pet Computer Business Machine (CBM) of the early 1980s was the training ground of the founder and CEO of Diarybook, Dermot O’Sullivan.