When one thinks of the early days of the personal computer, all the talk is about Gates and Jobs, but the most popular computer of the era was in fact the Commodore 64, my first computer, and the it was the first to massively break into the home market. Tramiel started a few years earlier with the PET; according to the LA Times,
"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," said Malone, adding that Tramiel's legacy "was he made the personal computer business into a real, honest business. 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."
The C64 was a breakthrough for its "huge 64K of memory" and according to the Guardian, the company did a billion dollars worth of business in 1983. However he left Commodore after a dispute with his partner, Toronto financier Irving Gould. Commodore carried on, and even developed the advanced Amiga, but never was such a force again. Tramiel went on to buy Atari and develop his answer to Apple, the "Jackintosh."
But the C64 was used in schools right into the nineties, a wonderful introduction to the world of computers. Jack Tramiel, dead at 83. More in the Globe and Mail, and thanks to a commenter there for the subhead idea.