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Jack Tramiel, Man Behind Commodore 64, Has Died

Jack Tramiel, the man behind the Commodore 64 computer, died Sunday, according to reports. Tramiel, who was 83, came to America after World War II. He was a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp in his native Poland.

Update: This post has been updated to reflect Tramiel's liberation from the Ahlem work camp, after his time in Auschwitz.

Eventually, Tramiel was freed from the Ahlem labor camp in Hanover, Germany, by American troops. In a 2007 interview, Tramiel explained what effect that experience had on him.

"When I came to the United States, I definitely felt I owed something to this country," he said.

So, Tramiel joined the U.S. Army a year after arriving in New York in 1947. And after his service, he turned to working with typewriters, then calculators — and finally, personal computers.

From Computer World:

"Tramiel's Commodore International in 1982 released the Commodore 64, a home computer that became one of the most popular models of all time, selling close to 17 million units between 1982 and 1994."

In 1984, Tramiel was forced out at Commodore. Soon after, he purchased Atari Corp., which he ran for more than 10 years.

The news of his death brought an outpouring of tweets and comments on technology sites, among them, Atari Age, where one user, bennybingo, posted this comment:

"Truly saddened by this news...he was just one of the many technology pioneers who shaped a large part of my childhood. He certainly left a very positive mark in the history books. Rest in peace."

As NPR's Susan Stamberg reported in 2007, Tramiel was a founder of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. He made certain that the name of the U.S. serviceman who helped to liberate him, Vernon W. Tott, was etched into the memorial wall.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.