Before Commodore Business Machines acquired the Amiga technology, they were well established in the business and home computer
markets with a diverse range of machines. Commodore Business Machines was formed in Toronto, Canada, in 1955 by Jack Tramiel
who arrived in the United States after the Second World War as a teenage Polish refugee from Auschwitz. The company started
out in a modest way manufacturing typewriters under licence from Czechslovakia. He chose the name CBM, it is said, because of
its similarity to IBM. In 1975, after two decades of trading in office products, the company was brought to its knees by the
ferocious calculator wars, which the Japanese eventually won. But Tramiel, feared as much as respected for his business
methods, was a survivor. He spotted the potential market for a personal computer and in 1976 brought Chuck Peddle into the
company and the rest is, as they say, history.
Founder of Commodore Business Machines.
Designer of the PET and the 6502 processor inside it.
Tramiel turned Commodore into a redoubtable trading and manufacturing operation, and in under a decade saw the value of the
company grow 50-fold. But, if it had a weakness, it was in new product development. The company's philosophy was "We sell
to the masses, not the classes" and Tramiel's belief was that the customer will always buy what offers best value for
money. The requirements of cheap volume manufacture however tend to militate against incorporation of the most advanced
technology. In 1979, after Tramiel insisted that memory components for the new PETs must be derived from MOS Technology,
against Peddle's wishes, the two men split and Peddle joined Victor United, a subsidiary of of the giant Walter Kidde
Corporation and formed Sirius Systems Technology to produce the Sirius 16-bit business machines.
Then in late 1982, following the release of the C-64, a large proportion of Commodore's small research and development staff
left the company in a mass walk-out, and from that time it relied on buying in the fruits of the research done by other
companies. During this time it was amazingly profitable, due in part to an assured supply of components from MOS Technology,
and a modern automated plant which could reportedly build a C-64 for as little as US$50. It was following this episode in
January 1984, that Tramiel left Commodore and moved to Atari who themselves had a few problems, and looked to Tramiel to turn
them around. This left Commodore in the hands of Irving Gould and Medhi Ali, who rumour has it were more interested in building
a tax-haven in the Bahamas (even to the extent of registering the company there) thereby making it difficult for shareholders
to get to board meetings, than the future of Commodore.
The following machines were announced by Commodore prior to the Amiga, but none of the MS-DOS based machines have been included.