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The man behind the Commodore 64
Written by Daniel   
Wednesday, 12 December 2007 10:25

The man behind the Commodore 64

By Daniel Terdiman
Staff Writer, CNET
Published: December 12, 2007, 4:00 AM PST

Newsmaker When people talk about the most influential names in the history of personal computers, you usually hear about Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Gordon Moore, Andy Grove, and so forth.

But one name that certainly belongs in that group is Jack Tramiel, the founder of Commodore Business Machines. As the man behind the PET, the Vic-20 and the Commodore 64--which may be the best-selling personal computer of all time--Tramiel may have had more influence than anyone.

That's debatable, of course. But there's no doubting the reverence Silicon Valley's elders have for Tramiel, an Auschwitz survivor and former member of the U.S. Army who decided that his future lay not in repairing typewriters as he'd done in uniform, but in building electronics.

On Monday night, hundreds of the Valley's graybeards turned out in Mountain View, Calif., for the Computer History Museum's celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Commodore 64, and there was no doubting that Tramiel was the man of the hour, not least because he rarely ventures out in public.

Among those on hand to fete Tramiel were Wozniak, IBM PC designer William Lowe, Pong designer Al Acorn, and many, many others.

During the event, Tramiel took the time to talk to CNET about his most famous creation, about the current state of personal computers and about whether there really was a culture war between C64 users and Apple IIe users in the mid-1980s.

Q: What does the 25th anniversary of the Commodore 64 mean to you? Can you believe it's been 25 years?
Jack Tramiel: Yes, I live it every day.

Do you still use a Commodore?
Tramiel: Yes, the 64.

What do you use it for?
Tramiel: Games.

What's your favorite game?
Tramiel: Pac-Man.

How many hours a day do you use your C64?
Tramiel: A few minutes.

We heard that about 500 people were going to show up for this event. How does it make you feel to have such a favorable reception 25 years later?
Tramiel: I believe that Commodore was the first personal computer, and we also were able to help supply products or parts for the Apple and the Atari. Being involved in seeing it be developed, in the marketing and traveling around the world, I saw, in its first two years, that this was going to be an unbelievable hit, and that it was going to change the world. And it did change the world, and I'm proud that I was part of it.... More   Comment in the Forums

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