Commodore International Founder Jack Tramiel Passes Away

Posted Apr 9, 2012

In 1953, Jack Tramiel worked as a taxi driver and bought a shop in the Bronx to repair machinery. He named that company Commodore Portable Typewriter and he was able to secure a $25,000 loan for the business through a U.S. Army entitlement. From there he started assembling and selling typerwriters across North America. In 1962 Commodore went public, but the business struggled to stay profitable because of the arrival of Japanese typewriters in the U.S.

They sold 17% of the company to a Canadian businessman named Irving Gould in exchange for $400,000 and use the cash to relaunch the company as an adding machine business. The Japanese entered this market and Tramiel was hit hard again.

From there Tramiel combined an LED display from Bowmar with an integrated circuit from Texas Instruments to created a calculator. However Texas Instruments decided to cut Commodore out of the middle and started selling their own calculators. Irving Gould bailed Commodore out again and the company then built home computers known for having monochrome green text on black screens. The market for the Commodore was hit hard when The Apple II and Atari 800 was released.

The Commodore is often referred to when tech fans today chit-chat about what some of their first machines were when they started having an interest in computers for the first time.

Today is a sad day because Jack has passed away at age 83. He is survived by his wife Helen and their three sons Gary, Sam, and Leonard.