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Commodore founder Jack Tramiel passes away

Commodore founder Jack Tramiel passes away

April 9, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

April 9, 2012 | By Eric Caoili
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

Jack Tramiel, a Holocaust survivor and an essential figure in the personal computer industry, passed away on Sunday, according to a report from Forbes. He was 83 years old.

Tramiel was best known for founding Commodore in the early 1950s, building what began as a typewriter and calculator business into the company that would release popular home computers like the VIC-20 and Commodore 64.

He left the company in 1984 to start Tramel Technology, and later purchased Atari's home console and computer divisions from Warner Communications (now Time Warner) following the video game crash the year before.

Tramiel and his son Sam -- who took over Atari Corp. as president and CEO in the late 1980s -- oversaw the company's launches of PCs and game consoles like the Atari ST, Lynx, and Jaguar until the family sold the firm to JT Storage in 1996.

Born Idek Tramielski in 1928, Tramiel grew up in Poland during World War II as Germany occupied the country. His family survived a detention at Auschwitz, but Tramiel and his father were forced to work at a labor camp near Hanover, Germany for several months -- his father died at the camp.

The U.S. Army liberated the camp when Tramiel was 16. He eventually married another Holocaust survivor, emigrated to the U.S. in 1947, and joined the U.S. Army, where he learned to repair typewriters and other equipment -- a skill that would lead to him establishing Commodore, according to a Fortune article reprinted by

Tramiel passed away surrounded by his family. He is survived by three sons, Gary, Sam, and Leonard, and his wife, Helen.

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