Good to be Bad, Again

Good to be Bad, Again
Three Unappreciated Demon Slayers

Spanner | 28 Aug 2007 11:46
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Sony embraced the bastard son it had long ignored, and the company's videogame arm quickly became the leading profit machine in the vast desert of Sony products. And yet Ken's success has left a bitter taste. Touted as a strong prospect for the next president of Sony, Kutaragi was brutally sanitized in the dead of night when he was removed from his roles as the head of the Consumer Electronics division of the company.

Placed in a position designed to fail, the outcome of the disastrous PlayStation 3 launch begins to seem more understandable, as does Ken's sad decline into confusion and contradiction. His fall from grace, both within and without of Sony, is the result of an unswerving devotion to an ultimately false idol. So fickle are we, the gamers, that already the PlayStation 1 and 2 are forgotten, cast into the pit with poor Ken's reputation, while he turns restlessly in a PR grave, the architect of his own misfortune. Pity poor Ken, for his nose is cold.

Jack Tramiel
"Business is like sex. You have to be involved." - One of Commodore founder Jack Tramiel's famous sayings from "The Religion."

If there was one man C. Montgomery Burns could learn from, it'd be Jack Tramiel. While Monty might have advised us to slay the demon of religion, Jack embraced it, nurtured it and rewrote its doctrines in his own words. His employees knew his business model as "The Religion," and if they wanted to remain in His presence, at Commodore and then Atari, they must learn its passages, sayings and ways intimately, or face the eternal damnation of a man who'd literally lived through hell and come out the other side hardened by fire and brimstone.


During World War II, Tramiel had spent several years in concentration camps; one of only 60 survivors from the 10,000 people he was originally incarcerated with. Deciding to settle in America (since it was American troops that first entered Auschwitz), Tramiel spent several decades earning the right to be the hard-ass, no nonsense businessman that saw him placed at No. 3 on California magazine's list of bosses from hell.

A man who genuinely knew what it was to have nothing, Jack was careful with every single cent, wringing every last use from each one before handing it over to someone less deserving. Whether or not his method of conducting business was ruthless by design or simply a product of volatile times, we'll never know, but it became standard practice for Commodore to hold off paying bills until the creditor was either climbing the court steps or was pushed out of business. When the latter occurred, Jack's financially vigilant company would step in, buy the struggling contractor and then casually forgive its own debt.

Jack's well quoted cry of "We need to make computers for the masses, not the classes!" was ultimately prophetic, though Tramiel's contempt for the competition would eventually prove too costly for even his product range. Determined to destroy Texas Instruments (which had previously incurred his fathomless wrath when it began manufacturing its own calculators), he took a chainsaw to the C64's price tag, and as sales soared, profits plummeted.

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