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Jack Tramiel has passed away at age 83.  He is famous for founding the company that produced the VIC-20 and Commodore 64.  The C-64 is the computer that sparked my interest in the use of computers in the classroom.  I am tremendously grateful or his creations.

Tramiel founded Commodore International in 1978.  He produced inexpensive computers.  The first one I bought in 1982 was the VIC-20.  Folks familiar with today’s computers and their gigs of RAM will find it difficult to believe that the VIC-20 had only 5K of RAM.

The VIC-20 accepted programs written in the BASIC programming language.  This was a relief, as I still had nightmares of writing assembler-level programs as an undergrad.  As an undergrad, computer programs were entered on punched cards for mainframe batch processing.  Programming on the VIC-20 was different.  Programs could be entered directly into RAM, without using punched cards.  I would type in a short game or other program published in a magazine, then spend hours playing it.  I remember a program called the Worm of Bemer, but don’t remember if that was a VIC-20 or C-64 program.  There also was the summer Olympics program, produced by Epyx.

The Commodore 64 program had 64K of RAM, and I purchased mine in 1983.  Programs could be more sophisticated.  The programs I used the most were a word-processor and a spreadsheet program.

At the time I was teaching at Andrews University, a Seventh-day Adventist school in Michigan.  The school purchased a few C-64 machines for its first computer lab.  I had students crunch numbers on them for a budgeting project.

When I entered the Virginia Tech accounting doctoral program in 1985, I wrote my papers on the C-64 and printed them on an electronic typewriter.  While others in the doctoral program wrote papers by hand, then typed them out on an electric typewriter (one’s spouse typed out his papers), I was high tech with my C-64.  I couldn’t have passed through the doctoral program without it.

Jack, I appreciate the work of your life.

Debit and credit –  – David Albrecht


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