Jacek Tramiel was born to a Jewish family in Poland in 1928 and is a survivor of Hitler's Nazi Holocaust, having survived the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Ahlem labor camp during World War II. After the war, in 1947, he emigrated to the United States as a young man where he changed his name to the westernised form, Jack Tramiel. In the United States he created and founded the Commodore Portable Typewriter company, a manufacturer of typewriters. The company later went on to become Commodore Business Machines, in order to import typewriters into the United States. Further on the company manufactured mechanical adding machines and then electronic calculators. Eventually the company and Tramiel had the foresight to move into the up and coming and potentially more lucrative home and office personal computer business.
The Commodore PET was the first personal computer developed and created by the company in 1977. The computer went on to great success in the education field and many of the computers were sold to schools. The PET had a monochrome display and Commodore needed to innovate to continue to compete, especially after the introduction of the first mass market computers from Apple and Atari, the Apple II and the Atari 800 respectively.
Tramiel and Commodore next introduced the VIC-20 in 1980 and then eventually the Commodore 64 in 1982. The Commodore 64 went on to become very successful for the company due to it being sold at normal retailers and not in electronic speciality shops or hobby shops. The Commodore is also attributed to being successful due to its use of a normal TV monitor as its screen and thus competing better with similar color display computers on the market at the time.
Tramiel left Commodore in 1984 and eventually went on to found another company Tramel Technology Ltd. In July of 1984 Tramel Technology purchased Atari Inc. which did not survive the first video game crash of 1983 very well. The company then went on to be named Atari Corporation. Tramiel stepped away from the company and eventually saw that his son Sam Tramiel took over in his place.
Jack Tramiel returned to lead the company after his son suffered a heart attack. In 1996 Tramiel sold Atari Corpoartion, and the resulting merger with the purchaser resulted in JTS Corporation. Tramiel sat on the Board of Directors of this new enterprise. JTS Corporation eventually declared bankruptcy in 1999.
It is rumored that Tramiel came to possess the last three prizes from the Atari SwordQuest series of games; the $25,000 Crown of Life from Swordquest: WaterWorld, the $25,000 Philosopher's Stone from Swordquest: AirWorld and the series ultimate contest prize the $50,000 Sword of Ultimate Sorcery. Tramiel passed away on April 8, 2012, and the current locations of these items are not known.