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Computer pioneer Jack Tramiel, 83, dies

PALO ALTO, Calif., April 13 (UPI) — Jack Tramiel, whose low-cost Commodore PCs introduced millions of people to computers in the late 1970s and early ’80s, has died in California, his son said.

Tramiel, who was 83, had been suffering from congestive heart failure for many years and died Sunday at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, his son Leonard told the Los Angeles Times.

Tramiel, a Polish-born holocaust survivor, opened a typewriter repair shop in the Bronx in the early 1950s, and soon earned a reputation as a hard-nosed, hard-driving, autocratic executive with a tremendous sense of the marketplace.

Commodore International introduced its first low-cost PC, the Commodore PET, in 1977, followed by the Commodore VIC-20 in 1980 and the hugely popular Commodore 64, a best-seller that initially sold for $595 at its 1982 release and quickly dropped to $199.

“Jack Tramiel is really the man who brought the average person into the computer industry,” said Michael S. Malone, a Silicon Valley historian and author.

Tramiel’s Commodore PET “was the low entry-level machine and he was going after home users,” Malone said.

“He forced it to compete, he was driving prices down, he was trying to maximize profit margins. He treated it as a manufacturing industry, not simply a business for fanatics. And I think that was crucial in turning a hobby industry into a global consumer giant.”

Tramiel is survived by his wife, three sons, Leonard, Sam and Garry, and five grandchildren.

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