Jack Tramiel, 83, computer pioneer and Auschwitz survivor

by | Apr 30, 2012 | Obituaries

Jack Tramiel, an Auschwitz survivor and founder of Commodore International, which pioneered low-cost home computers, died April 9 at 83. “Jack Tramiel was an immense influence
in the consumer electronics and computing industries,” said Martin Goldberg, who is working on a book about the early days of video games and computing. “A name once uttered in the same vein as Steve Jobs is today, his journey from concentration camp survivor to captain of industry is the stuff of legends.” His company launched the Vic20, Commodore PET and Commodore 64 computers in the 1980s. The Commodore 64 would become one of the best-selling computer models of all time and it was a favorite among early fans of video games,
including a number who became wellknown designers of video games. He was born Jacek Trzmiel in Lodz, Poland, in 1928. His family was put in the Lodz ghetto and then sent to Auschwitz, where he came face to face with Josef Mengele. His family perished in the camp. Tramiel was liberated from Auschwitz by the U.S. Army, which he later joined. In the Army he learned how to repair office equipment. In the late 1960s Tramiel went to California’s nascent Silicon Valley, where Commodore began manufacturing electronic calculators. Tramiel purchased a chipmanufacturer and moved it into microcomputers, where it developed PET. He later purchased the video games company Atari. (JTA)