Jumping before he was pushed, Tramiel took a handful of loyal acolytes and left Commodore for new pastures, buying the home games division of the failing Atari. Jack's son Leonard took a microscope to Atari's records and discovered an unusual agreement with a struggling startup hardware developer called Amiga. The company had been given a loan by Atari to develop a new computer, with a clause allowing Jack's new company access to its technology if Amiga was unable to repay on time. Quick as a particularly cunning fox, the Tramiels pounced on Amiga (which was in talks with Commodore for a lifesaving buyout deal) and made excellent use of the access clause to shave months, if not years, of development time off their new 16-bit project. By the time the Commodore Amiga hit the shelves, it had a worthy competitor - the Atari ST - to face off against.
Despite Jack Tramiel's savage dislike of - and ruthless reaction to - competition, providing a hard-faced counterpoint to market leaders is where he's proven himself an unrivaled success. Were it not for Jack, Apple, Amiga, Amstrad, Sinclair, Texas Instruments and a host of other major players in the game industry would have had unrestrained control of their respective markets and we, the consumers, would have suffered greatly. Don't mistake the rise and fall of Commodore for the story of Jack's life. He has never fallen, and few have ever risen so high.
And please try and pronounce his name correctly. As Leonard so astutely put it, "It's pronounced Tram-ell. It rhymes with 'done well.'" It's the least we can do for a true anti-hero of the game industry.
A Very, Very Unholy Trinity
These are men who made no effort to be liked. They don't care what we think of them. Their dedication was poured not into a glistening public image but into quality products that people wanted. Love or hate them (or, like me, do both depending on the moon), but acknowledge their accomplishments and respect the millions of gaming hours they've provided the world. And then you must tremble. To quote Monty Burns one last time, "What good is money if it can't inspire terror in your fellow man?"
What good indeed.