Thursday, 19 April 2012

Jack Tramiel

It is unusual for the passing of a home computing pioneer to be unremarked, but Jack Tramiel's death early in April passed me by until his obituary in The Independent. Before Apple III and Alan Sugar's Amstrads, he was responsible for the first all-in-one computer that worked "out of the box", the Commodore Pet. The machine gave a major boost to our own computer games industry, so we should be grateful for his efforts. This continued after he fell out with the Commodore board and revived Atari as a competitor.

He was a ruthless businessman. Tales of Mafia deals, how he was caught in an attempt to rip off Microsoft BASIC and multiple lawsuits abound. However, a more generous side of his character has emerged. He was a generous donor to charities, especially those connected with the Shoah, which he survived by the skin of his teeth.

Update 2012-4-21: BBC's "Last Word" caught up yesterday:

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