In the death of Jack Tramiel, the man behind the Commodore 64 computer, it's not that hard to see the life of Silicon Valley.
This is a place where companies come out of nowhere, rock the world, and then disappear again. Same with people. Tramiel, who died at 84 at Stanford Hospital on Sunday, was a Silicon Valley A-lister in the early personal computing days. His Commodore computers -- in addition to the 64 there was the VIC-20 and the PET -- helped open a new digital world to enthusiasts beyond the hobbyists who could build their own machines. The 64, which ranks as one of the best-selling personal computer models ever, still induces nostalgic rhapsody in its legion of one-time owners.
But by the time of his death, Tramiel, the founder of Commodore with a granite-hard nose for business, had faded from the valley scene and even valley lore.
Published in Mercury News on Apr. 9, 2012.