A small tribute to a great man
It’s been a sad week, with the news of the passing of Jack Tramiel, one of the greatest computer pioneers.
The tributes to Jack have been huge and newspapers and sites have been reporting on the news all week long.
I didn’t want to do another write-up of the amazing life of one of my heroes, as these are abundant on the web and the interview I did with Michael Tomczyk last year gives a lot of not so well known facts about this incredible man. So I thought I’d rather share some of the reactions from people in the industry, journalists and reporters … I think they reflect the impact Jack’s made on the computer industry.
I’ve also included some of Jack’s quotes and although I never had the opportunity to meet him, this article I came across yesterday reflects how I probably would have felt, sitting at the same table as the man that made computer history
He truly was an amazing person, one of my heroes… Jack, you will be missed…
“Jack Tramiel is really the man who brought the average person into the computer industry.”
- Michael S. Malone
“Jack Tramiel was an immense influence in the consumer electronics and computing industries. A name once uttered in the same vein as Steve Jobs is today, his journey from concentration camp survivor to captain of industry is the stuff of legends. His legacy are the generations upon generations of computer scientists, engineers, and gamers who had their first exposure to high technology because of his affordable computers – ‘for the masses and not the classes.’”
- Martin Goldberg
“Many games of today employ an 8-bit, retro vibe, and even though many of today’s younger gamers may not know who Jack Tramiel is, his legacy lives on in every pixel and byte of sound produced to this very day.”
- Matthew Hawkins
“Quite a few people have been retroactively credited with the invention of the personal computer. One man who never claimed credit himself, but who would certainly be listed among Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Clive Sinclair, Adam Osborne, and John Roach as original creators of the personal computer industry is Jack Tramiel.”
- Scott M. Fulton, III
“The PET 2001, the Commodore 64, and the Atari ST are three of the most important consumer products ever produced. Although only one was a huge financial success, the way you use your PC and your tablet and your smartphone all depend on the paths blazed by those three devices. Jack was the rare tech-company leader with true retail consumer product experience. He didn’t invent anything, but he set many of this industry’s wheels in motion, and we all owe him a huge debt for doing so.”
- Scott M. Fulton, III
“In the technology industry, he will be remembered mostly for Commodore, and perhaps a bit for the Atari ST, but his push for better machines at lower prices played a big factor in both development of the PC and the gaming console.”
- Michael J. Miller
“A pioneer of the computer industry, who’s impact in those early years was equal, if not more important, than that of icons like Steve Jobs.”
- Guy Kindermans
“And though his high-tech fame faded and he left some competitors bruised, it is inevitable that he will be remembered, and warmly, for the computers he put into people’s hands.
In December 2007, Tramiel appeared at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Commodore 64.
The room was full. The laughter genuine. And the applause sustained.”
- Mike Cassidy
Jack Tramiel at the “25th anniversary of the Commodore 64” event: “The computer business today is different than it was in 1975. In some ways it’s good, and in some ways it’s bad. But the important part is that we all work hard to bring it to the way it is, and people say, ‘How can you live without a computer?’ which is wonderful.”
At that 2007 Computer History Museum event, he cheerfully — and accurately — recycled a once-famous line when he told Steve Wozniak “You built computers for the classes — I built them for the masses.”
Speaking of the success he attained after surviving the Holocaust, Tramiel told the Jewish Bulletin in 1998: “Even if you came out from hell, you can still make it.”
“I like to go forward, not backward,” he said. “The most important thing to me was to succeed, to build a new life.”
“Jack was a Holocaust survivor and this experience gave him his drive and sense of purpose – not only did he want to do something great for humanity, but he wanted to make sure that his entire family and their descendants would be financially secure, which he accomplished.
I once asked Jack how he dealt with his 6 years surviving the Holocaust. He replied without blinking an eye: ‘I live in the future.’”
- Michael Tomczyk