Jack Tramiel, Survivor of Auschwitz, Founder of Commodore, Dead at 83

Posted by at 3:19 pm on April 10, 2012

Jack Tramiel, the founder of the company behind the legendary Commodore personal computer line, has died at 83, according to published reports, including Reuters and Forbes.

He was surrounded by family at the time of his passing, reports say.

Tramiel was born in Poland, and sent to Auschwitz with his family during World War II. He was then transported to a labor camp and rescued in 1945, arriving in the United States two years later.

He  joined the U.S. Army himself; in 1953, he used a GI loan to found Commodore, initially a typewriter repair company.  (The name “Commodore,” he said, came about because he wanted one with military associations — but all the obvious monikers, such as Admiral and General, were taken.)

After manufacturing calculators in the 1970s, Commodore moved into personal computers, turning into a pioneer of personal computing and home video games.

In 1982, they launched the Commodore 64, the company’s most popular device.

Tramiel was ousted after a stockholder dispute but he moved on to Atari, where he continued the gaming market dominance.

Tramiel was a co-founder of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which was opened in 1993. He was among many other survivors of the Ahlem labor camp who were tracked down by U.S. Army veteran Vernon Tott, who was among the 84th Division which rescued survivors from the camp and had taken and kept photographs of at least 16 of the survivors in storage until 2003. Tott, who died of cancer in 2003, was personally commemorated by Tramiel with an inscription on one of the Holocaust Museum’s walls saying “To Vernon W. Tott, My Liberator and Hero”

Tramiel is survived by his wife Helen, their three sons, Gary, Sam and Leonard, and their extended families.

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