Commodore: A Company on the Edge

Commodore: A Company on the Edge

Brian Bagnall

Language: English

Pages: 548

ISBN: 0973864966

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Filled with first-hand accounts of ambition, greed, and inspired engineering, this history of the personal computer revolution takes readers inside the cutthroat world of Commodore. Before Apple, IBM, or Dell, Commodore was the first computer manufacturer to market its machines to the public, selling an estimated 22 million Commodore 64s. Those halcyon days were tumultuous, however, owing to the expectations and unsparing tactics of founder Jack Tramiel. Engineers and managers with the company between 1976 and 1994 share their memories of the groundbreaking moments, soaring business highs, and stunning employee turnover that came with being on top in the early days of the microcomputer industry. This updated second edition includes additional interviews and first-hand material from major Commodore figures like marketing guru Kit Spencer, chip designer Bill Mensch, and Commodore co-founder Manfred Kapp.














would unveil at the upcoming general managers meeting in London. * * * In April 1980, Tramiel held an international meeting in London. “Jack brought a bunch of us to Europe to set up a dual planning session,” recalls Peddle. Prior to the meeting, Tramiel surveyed the computer scene in Britain and was surprised to see his old calculator competitor, Sinclair, in the computer market. Tramiel knew low-cost computers were beginning to appear on the computer scene and he was familiar

without a salary it would be impossible to make car and house payments. “At the time, I was like, ‘How can I live?’ So I turned it down because I didn’t think it was going to pay off.” Russell’s refusal demonstrated the low expectations for the sales performance of the computer. Although the engineer was one of the main supporters of the VIC computer, even he did not think sales would exceed 50,000 in a year. Upon arrival in Las Vegas, Tramiel gave Russell permission to tour for as

the message and did a poor job of representing himself in his meeting with Tramiel. “He wasn’t as capable as Jack thought he was, so Jack fired him,” says Peddle.[1] Hong was one of many managers Russell saw who did not survive their first Jack Attack. “I used to see my managers come out of there, and you were like, ‘Okay, is he going to come back to make the turn and come into the office? Nope! He’s going out the door. Okay, I guess he’s no longer my boss.’” As managers routinely

things better, given time and money. But then you’ve got probably the most successful computer ever. You’d have to say the technical guys got it right.” Commodore displayed their newest C64 games, including the Bally-Midway conversions and HAL Laboratory games. Even though Bob Yannes was no longer at Commodore, he was thrilled to see a software library building up around the machine he designed. “I used [a C64] all the time,” he says. “I enjoyed playing Omega Race.” Later at the show,

better enough to offset anything else.” Commodore’s reputation suffered in the aftermath. Even though Tramiel instigated the projects, many thought it was a sign that Commodore could not compete without him. Somehow, everyone knew the Plus/4 was a bad idea except for Commodore’s management and marketing teams. According to Chuck Peddle, Gould blamed Tramiel for the failure. “He went out and designed this follow-up to the C64, and he built up all this inventory, assuming he was going to

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