Discussion:
Jack Tramiel
(too old to reply)
Simon Geddes
2020-01-18 18:06:56 UTC
Permalink
Jack gets a bad rapp for his "Jack attacks", and I'm not sure how well I would
have survived if I ever had to work under him. But reading "The Home Computer
Wars" the other day, it left me with a slightly different feeling - an
admiration for the man's sheer determination to win in business, and his belief
in his own business "religion".

I tried to distill out of the book the components of The Religion (according to
the book, Jack called it this himself). It included a strong focus on lean
business (sounds very modern), reducing the number of layers of command,
expecting managers to "get involved" and not just manage. He was apparently
oft-quoted as saying "business is like sex. You have to be involved".

Just wondering if there are any other closet Jack admirers, and whether they
can shed any more light on Jack's business religion?
Computer Nerd Kev
2020-01-21 22:17:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Simon Geddes
Jack gets a bad rapp for his "Jack attacks", and I'm not sure how well I would
have survived if I ever had to work under him. But reading "The Home Computer
Wars" the other day, it left me with a slightly different feeling - an
admiration for the man's sheer determination to win in business, and his belief
in his own business "religion".
I tried to distill out of the book the components of The Religion (according to
the book, Jack called it this himself). It included a strong focus on lean
business (sounds very modern), reducing the number of layers of command,
expecting managers to "get involved" and not just manage. He was apparently
oft-quoted as saying "business is like sex. You have to be involved".
Just wondering if there are any other closet Jack admirers, and whether they
can shed any more light on Jack's business religion?
Well you have to admire him. Like you have to admire Bill Gates. Even if
you otherwise hate them for being pricks.
From a customer's point of view I think you can admire Tramiel much
more than Bill Gates. Tramiel used his ruthless business strategies
to cut costs and therefore be able to profitably sell computers
cheaper than anyone else - opening them up to some home markets that
otherwise might have been priced out. Gates just did his best to
prevent other players from getting a strong foothold in the PC OS
market, so that he could get away with selling his software with
very high profit margins. Steve Jobs as well just convinced a
smaller market with more money to buy more expensive tech by making
it shiny and fashionable.

I'm sure you'd soon conclude that they were all pricks if you were
trying to compete in the same market as they were/are. As I remember
it, one of Tramiel's other sayings was "business is war". In my
opinion Tramiel did more to further the reach of computing as a
whole.
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Andreas Kohlbach
2020-01-22 18:49:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Computer Nerd Kev
Post by Simon Geddes
Jack gets a bad rapp for his "Jack attacks", and I'm not sure how well I would
have survived if I ever had to work under him. But reading "The Home Computer
Wars" the other day, it left me with a slightly different feeling - an
admiration for the man's sheer determination to win in business, and his belief
in his own business "religion".
I tried to distill out of the book the components of The Religion (according to
the book, Jack called it this himself). It included a strong focus on lean
business (sounds very modern), reducing the number of layers of command,
expecting managers to "get involved" and not just manage. He was apparently
oft-quoted as saying "business is like sex. You have to be involved".
Just wondering if there are any other closet Jack admirers, and whether they
can shed any more light on Jack's business religion?
Well you have to admire him. Like you have to admire Bill Gates. Even if
you otherwise hate them for being pricks.
From a customer's point of view I think you can admire Tramiel much
more than Bill Gates. Tramiel used his ruthless business strategies
to cut costs and therefore be able to profitably sell computers
cheaper than anyone else - opening them up to some home markets that
otherwise might have been priced out. Gates just did his best to
prevent other players from getting a strong foothold in the PC OS
market, so that he could get away with selling his software with
very high profit margins. Steve Jobs as well just convinced a
smaller market with more money to buy more expensive tech by making
it shiny and fashionable.
I'm sure you'd soon conclude that they were all pricks if you were
trying to compete in the same market as they were/are. As I remember
it, one of Tramiel's other sayings was "business is war". In my
opinion Tramiel did more to further the reach of computing as a
whole.
I can agree with that. All pricks are equal, but some pricks are more
equal than others.;-)

Indeed I wonder what happened to the micro computer industry if Commodore
hadn't existed.

There is a very interesting article in a BYTE issue from 1983 where they
predict how the market would develop in the next five years (1988). Most
of the predictions were wrong. They didn't see the success of
Commodore. They were right though that in the professional sector IBM
will win the race.
--
Andreas
Pinku Basudei
2020-01-23 07:25:21 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 22 Jan 2020 13:49:59 -0500
Post by Andreas Kohlbach
There is a very interesting article in a BYTE issue from 1983 where they
predict how the market would develop in the next five years (1988). Most
of the predictions were wrong. They didn't see the success of
Commodore. They were right though that in the professional sector IBM
will win the race.
I wonder if someone in 1988 predicted that someone would take a perfectly sound business like Commodore and drive it at full speed over the edge of a cliff by 1994? :D
--
/ Pinku
Simon Geddes
2020-01-22 00:36:01 UTC
Permalink
Re: Re: Jack Tramiel
By: Computer Nerd Kev to Andreas Kohlbach on Tue Jan 21 2020 10:17 pm
Post by Computer Nerd Kev
From a customer's point of view I think you can admire Tramiel much
more than Bill Gates. Tramiel used his ruthless business strategies
to cut costs and therefore be able to profitably sell computers
cheaper than anyone else - opening them up to some home markets that
otherwise might have been priced out. Gates just did his best to
That really came across in the book I was reading. Most of Commodore thought
they should concetrate on high-end PET-level machines, but Jack drove the plan
and ambition to do the Vic as a low-cost computer for all. I'm not sure , but I
feel this was partly motivated by a sense of public purpose. He apparently
hated complex systems and rules, because this
is what allowed people to commit horrors like the Holocaust; he apparently
thought a mass spread of computers by act as a counter-weight against that.

He seems a lot more complex, interesting character than the likes of Gates or
the diefied (is that a a word?) Jobs.
Andreas Kohlbach
2020-01-23 14:38:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Simon Geddes
Re: Re: Jack Tramiel
By: Computer Nerd Kev to Andreas Kohlbach on Tue Jan 21 2020 10:17 pm
Post by Computer Nerd Kev
From a customer's point of view I think you can admire Tramiel much
more than Bill Gates. Tramiel used his ruthless business strategies
to cut costs and therefore be able to profitably sell computers
cheaper than anyone else - opening them up to some home markets that
otherwise might have been priced out. Gates just did his best to
That really came across in the book I was reading. Most of Commodore thought
they should concetrate on high-end PET-level machines, but Jack drove the plan
and ambition to do the Vic as a low-cost computer for all. I'm not sure , but I
feel this was partly motivated by a sense of public purpose.
May be he saw the success of the Apple ][ and TRS-80 in homes, while the
PET was more seen in offices and schools.
--
Andreas
Tristan Miller
2020-01-30 12:32:37 UTC
Permalink
Greetings.
Post by Simon Geddes
Re: Re: Jack Tramiel
By: Computer Nerd Kev to Andreas Kohlbach on Tue Jan 21 2020 10:17 pm
Post by Computer Nerd Kev
From a customer's point of view I think you can admire Tramiel much
more than Bill Gates. Tramiel used his ruthless business strategies
to cut costs and therefore be able to profitably sell computers
cheaper than anyone else - opening them up to some home markets that
otherwise might have been priced out. Gates just did his best to
That really came across in the book I was reading. Most of Commodore thought
they should concetrate on high-end PET-level machines, but Jack drove the plan
and ambition to do the Vic as a low-cost computer for all. I'm not sure , but I
feel this was partly motivated by a sense of public purpose.
I haven't read The Home Computer Wars, but that's not at all the
impression I got of Tramiel from reading Brian Bagnall's "On the Edge:
The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore" (or whatever it happened to
be called at the time -- the author seems to change the title of the
book with every edition). Anyways, from that book it was pretty clear
that Tramiel was driven purely by profit and egotism, not any higher
social purpose. After reading the book (and watching the "Commodore
Story" documentary) I came away with a much less favourable impression
of Tramiel than I had had previously.

Regards,
Tristan
--
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Tristan Miller
Free Software developer, ferret herder, logologist
https://logological.org/
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Dave Drum
2020-01-30 23:24:18 UTC
Permalink
-=> Tristan Miller wrote to Simon Geddes <=-
and ambition to do the Vic as a low-cost computer for all. I'm not sure,
but I feel this was partly motivated by a sense of public purpose.
TM> I haven't read The Home Computer Wars, but that's not at all the
TM> impression I got of Tramiel from reading Brian Bagnall's "On the Edge:
TM> The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore" (or whatever it happened to
TM> be called at the time -- the author seems to change the title of the
TM> book with every edition). Anyways, from that book it was pretty clear
TM> that Tramiel was driven purely by profit and egotism, not any higher
TM> social purpose. After reading the book (and watching the "Commodore
TM> Story" documentary) I came away with a much less favourable impression
TM> of Tramiel than I had had previously.

Jack, who dumped CBM in favour of Atari (nee Tramiel Technology Ltd.)
was just as much about money as Irving (Gould) and Medhi (Ali) who came
after him at Commodore and busted it out for fun and (especially) profit.

... Amiga made it possible. Commodore made it dead.
Simon Geddes
2020-01-30 23:35:27 UTC
Permalink
Re: Jack Tramiel
By: Dave Drum to Tristan Miller on Fri Jan 31 2020 12:24 pm
Post by Dave Drum
Jack, who dumped CBM in favour of Atari (nee Tramiel Technology Ltd.)
was just as much about money as Irving (Gould) and Medhi (Ali) who came
after him at Commodore and busted it out for fun and (especially) profit.
I don't think he was really dumped. Irving sacked him. Not sure how that's
possible, and what the actual reasons were. Some say because he wanted to bring
his sons in. Irving said he was worried about JAck's health, and didn't think
he was the man to take the company to beyond a billion.

Maybe Jack planned to build Atari up to the point where he could buy our
Commodore and get his creation back. Something akin to the Steve Jobs story,
where he was ousted but found a back route back in.
Joacim Melin
2020-02-01 06:08:27 UTC
Permalink
SG> Re: Jack Tramiel
SG> By: Dave Drum to Tristan Miller on Fri Jan 31 2020 12:24 pm
Post by Dave Drum
Jack, who dumped CBM in favour of Atari (nee Tramiel Technology Ltd.)
was just as much about money as Irving (Gould) and Medhi (Ali) who came
after him at Commodore and busted it out for fun and (especially) profit.
SG> I don't think he was really dumped. Irving sacked him. Not sure how
SG> that's
SG> possible, and what the actual reasons were. Some say because he
SG> wanted to bring
SG> his sons in. Irving said he was worried about JAck's health, and
SG> didn't think
SG> he was the man to take the company to beyond a billion.

SG> Maybe Jack planned to build Atari up to the point where he could buy
SG> our
SG> Commodore and get his creation back. Something akin to the Steve Jobs
SG> story,
SG> where he was ousted but found a back route back in.

Several truthful sources have come out before and after Jack Tramiels death and
confirmed that while he wasn't formally fired (he resigned) his disagreement
with Irving was so profound he couldn't remain at Commodore. Irving, the
blood-sucking leach that he was, was very willing to keep spending Commodores
money on his own luxury lifestyle. Quoted from Wikipedia:

"During a question and answer session at CommVEx v11 (July 18, 2015), Jack's
son, Leonard Tramiel, finally revealed to the crowd his version of what really
transpired between Jack and Irving Gould during the 1984 C.E.S. show resulting
in Tramiel leaving Commodore:[22] On January 13, 1984 during a meeting with
Irving, Jack told Irving that treating the assets of the company as his own and
using them for personal use was wrong. He said to Irving, "you can't do that
while I'm still president" to which Irving responded by saying "Goodbye". Three
days after the show, Jack announced to the public that he was resigning from
the company."

Irving was the one who drove Commodore into the ground. They would've failed
anyway with the PC standard taking over but they sure as heck would have lasted
longer than 1994.

Lawrence Woodman
2020-01-25 13:34:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Computer Nerd Kev
Post by Simon Geddes
Jack gets a bad rapp for his "Jack attacks", and I'm not sure how well I would
have survived if I ever had to work under him. But reading "The Home Computer
Wars" the other day, it left me with a slightly different feeling - an
admiration for the man's sheer determination to win in business, and his belief
in his own business "religion".
Just wondering if there are any other closet Jack admirers, and whether they
can shed any more light on Jack's business religion?
Well you have to admire him. Like you have to admire Bill Gates. Even if
you otherwise hate them for being pricks.
From a customer's point of view I think you can admire Tramiel much
more than Bill Gates. Tramiel used his ruthless business strategies
to cut costs and therefore be able to profitably sell computers
cheaper than anyone else - opening them up to some home markets that
otherwise might have been priced out. Gates just did his best to
prevent other players from getting a strong foothold in the PC OS
market, so that he could get away with selling his software with
very high profit margins. Steve Jobs as well just convinced a
smaller market with more money to buy more expensive tech by making
it shiny and fashionable.
I'm not a big fan of Microsoft, but one thing that they did do is bring
a common platform to million's of computers at a relatively low cost
compared to CP/M. They also helped drive more hardware conformity to
systems which was a double-edge sword, but did allow programmers to get
more out of the hardware because they could address it directly rather
than through OS interfaces.

In many way's Tramiel did the same by creating relatively cheap
mass-market machines which allowed programmers to target stable platforms
for their software.

Lorry

---
Hand Assembling to Machine Code on the Commodore VIC-20:

Tristan Miller
2020-01-30 12:25:32 UTC
Permalink
Greetings.
Post by Lawrence Woodman
I'm not a big fan of Microsoft, but one thing that they did do is bring
a common platform to million's of computers at a relatively low cost
compared to CP/M.
I take it you're referring to the huge difference in price IBM was
charging for the two operating systems: according to Ars Technica [1],
this was $40 for PC-DOS (a licensed version of Microsoft's MS-DOS)
versus $240 for Digital's CP/M-86. But the same article suggests that
the overpricing of CP/M-86 may have been IBM's decision rather than
Digital's. At least, this is what Gary Kildall believed. So Microsoft
may not have been responsible for making their OS available at a
"relatively" low cost.

Regards,
Tristan

[1] https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/07/ibm-pc-history-part-2/
--
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Tristan Miller
Free Software developer, ferret herder, logologist
https://logological.org/
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
J.B. Wood
2020-01-22 12:03:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by Simon Geddes
Jack gets a bad rapp for his "Jack attacks", and I'm not sure how well I would
have survived if I ever had to work under him. <snip>
Hello, and hmmmm...Seems I remember a C-64 game called "Jack Attack".
Just a coincidence I suppose. Sincerely,
--
J. B. Wood e-mail: ***@hotmail.com
Andreas Kohlbach
2020-01-22 18:55:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by J.B. Wood
Post by Simon Geddes
Jack gets a bad rapp for his "Jack attacks", and I'm not sure how well I would
have survived if I ever had to work under him. <snip>
Hello, and hmmmm...Seems I remember a C-64 game called "Jack
Attack". Just a coincidence I suppose. Sincerely,
I seem to remember that game but not have it in my image
collection. Lunar Attack is the closest I can up with.
--
Andreas
Computer Nerd Kev
2020-01-22 22:21:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by J.B. Wood
Post by Simon Geddes
Jack gets a bad rapp for his "Jack attacks", and I'm not sure how well I would
have survived if I ever had to work under him. <snip>
Hello, and hmmmm...Seems I remember a C-64 game called "Jack Attack".
Just a coincidence I suppose. Sincerely,
Not a coincidence actually:

The game was developed by students Kevin Kieller and John Traynor for
the VIC-20 and originally named 'Cubic Critters'. After showing the
game to Commodore sales reps at a computer show they were invited to
the company's Toronto offices to strike a publishing deal. Commodore
felt the name was too close to 'Q*bert' and after being unable to
settle on a new name, the writers asked the Commodore team to name it.
The game was then renamed as an in joke after the company's founder
Jack Tramiel. Kieller said "We were led to believe that certain people
at Commodore felt Jack Tramiel looked like the red-face critter when
he was upset. According to our Commodore contacts, if Jack Tramiel was
upset and yelling at you it was known as a Jack Attack." This was
confirmed by Commodore marketing strategist Michael Tomczyk. "He
chuckled when we named one of the games Jack Attack, which was an
inside joke. Jack was short and round in stature but had a deep
booming voice that could shake the walls. I don't think he realized
the meaning of Jack Attack but he knew it was about him. He never said
much about it, he just allowed it to happen."

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Attack
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