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Atari Introduces the Falcon030 - Sept. 23rd, 1992


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#1 Clint Thompson

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 11:54 AM

Reading through some old articles, and I couldn't help but feel this is exactly what Apple would become with their Mac OSX. I remember reading about the genlock/video capabilities of the Falcon but never knew of anything that used it or examples. It always seemed like the Amiga took the show with their Video Toaster setups with boards from Newtek.

 

Sam mentions below using the Falcon as a video phone? I've not seen a single thing about video phone use for the Falcon. Do you guys remember the Tandy Sensation and software suites or packages that came installed with those to help make for an easier interface to navigate just exactly what it was you wanted to do on the computer? I think Packard Bell did something similar. Atari probably should have done something along those lines and seriously focused on the software to make all the lose ends work. It could have been the internet multimedia machine it was intended to be. I guess MiNT did come along to remedy some of that but I've only ever seen pictures.

 

It also seems like there was such a low number of units expected to be delivered. 2 per store? No direct ordering at the time? I would love to see photos from the Atarifests demoing these units, outside of the blurry magazine pics, some being black and white. I can only imagine how miserable a 1MB machine would've been and if that hindered the performance of the direct to disk audio recording - which still is rather amazing to me to this day. And was the PIM terminology or phrase supposed to catch-on?

 

I can only remember drooling over Toad Computer magazines with Falcons imprinted with the pages and remembering just how badly I wanted one. Needless to say, Atari pulled the plug on everything and the support dropped right behind that notion and it would become just a super rare bird with limited software. It's too bad Space Junk was never to be completed, I remember playing the demo many years ago and it was truly impressive. Wonder what else could've been done with the machine given the right developers and a solid chance.

 

"ATARI INTRODUCES FIRST COMPUTER SYSTEM DESIGNED FOR PERSONAL INTEGRATED
 MEDIA

 Atari Falcon030™ brings high-end capabilities to the market for less
 than $1,000.
 
 Boston (September 23, 1992)  Atari Corporation today announced the first
 available personal integrated media system, the Atari Falcon030
 computer.  From education to entertainment, personal integrated media
 (PIM) has the potential to change consumers' lives as dramatically as
 personal computers changed business offices.  The system will be
 available in November at authorized Atari Dealers across the country.
 
 A full scale computer based on the powerful 16 Mhz Motorola 68030
 microprocessor, the Atari Falcon030 is specifically designed for
 personal integrated media functions.  It gives even inexperienced users
 the ability to combine and manipulate video, audio, animation,
 telecommunications, text and graphics.  The system is optimized for
 these functions and incorporates technology usually reserved for high-
 end production systems.
 
 "The Atari Falcon030 is an ideal entry into the new and growing personal
 integrated media market," said Sam Tramiel, Atari's president and CEO.
 "It's a powerful system that gives users access to a whole new world of
 applications.  Yet the system remains easy-to-use and affordable."
 
 Consumers will be able to use the Atari Falcon030 as a color video
 phone, communicating in sound and pictures with other Atari Falcon030
 users.  The system makes it possible to create home videos complete with
 text and music, record lead vocals on a favorite rock 'n roll classic
 with the originals musicians playing along; narrate and score a family
 photo album, produce a visual family tree, invent and play an adventure
 game set in a childhood home; and much more."


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#2 Lost Dragon

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 09:49 AM

The Amiga crowd over here in the UK often used to 'crow' somewhat about the Amiga hardware with a Video Toaster set up being used in the TV show Babylon 5, which was true to a degree, it was used, but only in the pilot eps. :-)

 

 

Regarding the Falcon, 1st time i saw it was thanks to the TV show Gamesmaster, where it had a brief segment 1 episode, plus the magazine had a Clash Of The 32bit Titans snippet in the News section...both if i recal correctly made a big deal how Space Junk was being developed specifically for the Falcon, how it'd feature impressive animation etc, yet game never arrived on Falcon, Mega Cd, Jaguar CD etc.

 

Then you had Commodore User (C.U) Magazine giving it a superb write up, better than the A1200, in a hardware feature and The One maybe? interviewing Thallion, where again Falcon specific hardware features were praised over the Commodore A1200.

 

Next i read of it was in Edge, where they proclaimed it had been an utter failure :-(



#3 Lost Dragon

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 09:57 AM

Actually the games aspect of the Falcon was another chapter of Atari promising, yet failing to deliver (well Atari and it's 3rd part supporters)...

 

Along with Space Junk, Atari seemed to be making a lot of noise about Falcon Specific games such as:

 

Humans/Dino Dudes-Falcon version ironically appearing after Jaguar version, as Atari shifted all resources to promoting the Jaguar...

 

 Raiden-only 3 levels finished? but i believe playfield was bigger than Jaguar version.

 

Road Riot 4WD+Steel Talons, did i believe arrive, but i seem to recal Atari UK hyping them up earlier as 1st of a new wave of titles that'd showcase the then new STE range of hardware, so it's hard to see them as only the Falcon made the conversions possible, type games.


Edited by Lost Dragon, 30 March 2016 - 10:04 AM.

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#4 Lost Dragon

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 11:13 AM

"BOB-BRODIE: Steel Talons was shown at COMDEX, along with a few 

other games that were already ported to the Atari Falcon030, like 

Raiden and Cyber Assualt. We've had a developer conference in the 

UK for the Falcon030, which is where an awful lot of entertainment 

software has been coming from. The Falcon was VERY well viewed by 

the major development houses. Especially because of the things 

they can do with the DSP chip. In several instances, employees of 

software houses were asking about getting a machine to start their 

OWN software company..."

 

See i never saw ANY indication of this at the time-instead UK software houses seemed firmly behind the A1200 of the 2....

 

Nor has there been any indication from any of the coders/artists i've 'spoken with' via my interviews.

 

It seems only Atari UK and Silmarlis took the Falcon seriousily as a publisher.

 

No one in UK really took STE seriousily and it seems Falcon was viewed with similar approach.

 

Imagitec and Jeff Minter aside, support doesn't seem there.


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#5 Clint Thompson

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 01:40 PM

Yeah, all I ever heard about the STe was that it was just too late and that the Falcon, although family oriented looking to match their line of computers, was just using the same dated design without true expandability like the TT. What I find interesting to read is that the Falcon was supposed to be just an entry-level multimedia machine and that the Falcon line to follow would be the higher-end versions, which would replace the TT theoretically. I think Atari saw the writing on the wall early on but didn't want to completely destroy faith in anything they were doing by basically shitting on the 25,000 people who just shelled out almost $1,000 on a new computer from them, only to let them know they were completely dropping the ball and over their head with the Jaguar in ability to support it all.

 

I still find the idea of using the video chipset from the Jaguar in a Falcon series to be completely fascinating. The idea of a Falcon040 with 32-64MB of ram, using the GPU chipset from the Jaguar and actually having an up-to-speed TOS (or MultiTOS rather) setup or even supporting UNIX as was mentioned, would have been phenomenal. They didn't really have any direction or use for the Falcon in the way of desktop publishing seeing as how the TT was still technically better at doing the job and yet they were still serving the musicians with their built-in capability and could have refocused this into what basically could have been the ultimate gaming computer of the time during the early 90s. Having all the extra storage space and RAM available would've proven to be incredible as well and I think only then would the Jaguar's GPU chipset be fully utilized to it's true potential.

 

Getting caught-up in such daydreams may be silly but I guess thinking that at some point Atari could have made this system as not only a full-on development kit for the Jaguar console part but the computer could also play the games AND play enhanced or higher-end games made specifically for it. You had the PC market side of things but even the most capable video graphics that could match that of the Jag's GPU would be costly, with the overall system cost most likely double-to-triple the cost of what you could've packaged a Falcon gaming computer together for.


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#6 Lost Dragon

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 03:29 PM

I think you only had to look at Atari as it was then.

 

Knee jerk reacting to what others were doing.

 

CBM have CDTV, you annouce the CDST (just never release it)

 

 

Amiga out selling ST? release STE too late and under-spec it at that.

 

CBM have the A1200, quick, show everyone the Falcon, so what IF you have to encase it in the standard ST casing.....

 

MegaDrive/SNES capturing huge market share? quick let slip rumours of the ST based console, then annouce The Panther, release it'd struggle to take on SNES and wouldn't be anywhere near as powerful as you claim, scrap it, annouce the Jaguar, 64bits an everything guv, what the Falcon? the Lynx, yeah yesterdays news..limited resources, all hands on deck with Jaguar...

 

All you do is piss off consumers and publishers alike and you loose all credibilty in the industry and marketplace.


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#7 Lost Dragon

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Posted 09 April 2016 - 10:28 AM

:-)

 

It's all techno-babble to myself, but when The One magazine did a feature called The Thallion Stallions, looking at developer Thallion, Erik Simon and Christian Jungen were asked for personal thoughts on Commodores new flagship micro, the A1200 and it seems both would of prefered some features from the Atari Falcon to of been included:

 

Christian, talking about Screen Memory, wanted each pixel to have 2 bytes, like the Falcon had....

 

whilst erik wanted a word per-pixel colour mode, as Falcon had it and it would of been ideal to 'whizz around with' for 'amazing' 3D stuff.



#8 Lost Dragon

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Posted 09 April 2016 - 02:59 PM

Seems when Falcon sales had reached around the 50,000 mark, there were high hopes publishers would bring various PC/Amiga games to it, including likes of:Dune II, Captive II, F14 Tomcat, F-117A Stealth Fighter, Tornado, Falcon

3.0, and Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe ( this one enhanced for Falcon),X-Wing etc etc.

 

But you'd of needed a lot more Falcon's sold to even have the Falcon considered i fear as Lucasarts had, as i've mentioned in the Jaguar thread, asked if Atari was 'for real' by this point a question i fear many other developers were asking.



#9 Lost Dragon

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 05:12 AM

There was a claim made in the UK Press at the time that Archer Maclean came away BITTERLY disappointed by his 1st experience of the Falcon at Atari's ECT stand as person demoing the machine seemed clueless when asked about its specs (couldn't confirm its CPU speed, resolution, colour ranges etc) when Archer suggested Atari commissioned a Falcon version of pool (full 256 colours etc).....

 

IF this is true, is it really any wonder the Falcon struggled to get developer support in the manner it did?.



#10 Lost Dragon

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 05:18 AM

In Autumn '92 Atari Uk's Bob Gleadow was quoted as saying he didn't think much of Phillips CD-i hardware, Atari via the Falcon, linked to a CD Drive, could and indeed would do better, he didn't see CD gaming being terribly significant until 1993 when PC CD 7th Guest was expected to hit. Sam Tramiel was quoted as saying he remained unconvinced by CD Market, it was still too small to viability consider investing time and money in.. at current time.
 
What did 3rd party (UK) developers think of the Falcon? Peter Molyneux was quoted to be very, very interested in developing for it, but had concerns it'd get established as PC hardware prices were dropping all the time, Atari would need to market it properly. US Gold quoted as saying they were going to wait and see at what price Atari launched it at
 
Codemasters quoted as saying they'd wait until they were convinced hardware was moving in the right direction, before they started developing for it........


#11 Lost Dragon

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 02:52 PM

@Clint:

 

Seems you were not the only 1 hoing to see the Jaguar chipset used in a range of Atari Home Micro's:

 

David Wightman: "I remember having lunch with Sam Tramiel as he was looking for thoughts on how to bring more developers onboard. I was trying to convince him to expand the base of the Jaguar hardware by developing it into a home machine which would have allowed home school developers access to the chipset and the thought of a Jaguar/Jag2 GPU coupled with a 68030 chip would be an easy win with programmers.

 

He agreed that it would fly off the shelves in Europe to tech-heads but such was Atari’s stature in the US at the time – plus the dilution of corporate message that would occur, it was never going to happen much to my disappointment."

 

http://atariage.com/...ator-interview/

 

:-(

 

Shame, but at least we get some insight into why it never happened.



#12 MaximumRD

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Posted 12 May 2016 - 01:52 AM

Back in the day I loved my AMIGA but I admit I was awaiting the Falcon because at least from my perspective it was looking to be everything I loved about my beloved Commodore machine but officially by ATARI. Thing turned out to be even more scarce for me here in Canada than AMIGA was. Don't think I ever even seen one in person to this day. So I never owned one, while I would still love to I don't think it offers me much since it's short life and library don't seem to do the price justice these days other than for collector purposes. Like the Jaguar though I admit I was dreaming before launch of the possibilities. 


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#13 Clint Thompson

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Posted 12 May 2016 - 04:55 AM

@LD - funny you should mention that since I've been talking with David on and off as of recent. It's a shame Sam didn't listen to his advice and while it was true, the hardware would have been fantastic for its time but being the hardware company that Atari was moreso than software it seemed, since the Tramiel takeover, they would have never developed or got the OS off to speed in proper time I feel.

 

@Max - I ponder the same thing recently as I've set out to acquire my last Falcon but getting into music stuff lately and the idea of having it to sift through things when I want it there to do such would be really nice. If you find a nice one, they're really beautiful machines. A'bit slow it seems but there was a way to speedup the redraw using software I believe which helped make it seem far zippier. If one thing has held consistent in prices it would definitely be the Falcon. Still hard to justify since for $500 you can have a nicely equipped PC but you know, it's still not a Falcon. Something about specialized hardware and the fact that its scarce makes it even that much more special.


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#14 Lost Dragon

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Posted 12 May 2016 - 09:07 AM

Nice to hear David is still very keen to chat about the Jaguar era, I've seen him talk to RG freelancer since the interview on AA I linked to and now your goodself.

Great to hear he's still happy to answer Q's and you don't need the backing if a commercial publisher to act as clout, to get replies from him...which is impression I'm getting from attempts Unseen64 made to get interviews of late, folks only seem willing to give time, if your going to be able to promote latest projects, in many cases it seems.

Edited by Lost Dragon, 12 May 2016 - 09:09 AM.


#15 Clint Thompson

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Posted 12 May 2016 - 09:21 AM

I can see how someone requesting to pick your brain about something maybe seen as not such a spectacular time some 20 years ago could be bothersome and a waste of their time. Some definitely don't enjoy reliving it, which again, is completely understandable. It's hard to not be bitter about putting in so much effort into any project only for it to be completely labeled as either a failure or such poor results that it affects you and your life all-around negatively.

 

I guess it has to be a true calling of passion though and that even if whatever you're doing doesn't fare well or as expected, as long as you still enjoyed what you were doing in the end, that's what really matters most.

 

Speaking of Falcon... I've got some goodies in the mail =) I'll have to post a picture later.


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#16 Lost Dragon

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Posted 12 May 2016 - 10:17 AM

Very true my friend, there have been stories told to me over the course of my research, into exactly why certain games never appeared and they are not the sort that can be publicly repeated, but gives you a wide eye view into just how ruthless the games industry was and still is.

It just makes me ever more grateful for those who have been able to give freely of their time for answering questions over projects abandoned long, long ago.
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#17 Clint Thompson

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Posted 13 May 2016 - 05:09 AM

Atari just sent me a ton of brochures to help me better decide which computer I should get - 1040STe, Falcon030 or Mega STe. Which one should I get? They also think I may be interested in the Jaguar and Lynx as well ;-)

 

catalogs.jpg

stickers.jpg

 

When I saw the stickers, it made me think of the Atari logo on the back of the Hotz Box.


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#18 Lost Dragon

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Posted 13 May 2016 - 06:11 AM

Outstanding.

 

IF i stumble across any Falcon material, i'll forward it across to you.

 

So far, it's been Lynx/Atari coin-op/ VR related stuff, but got a feeling i've Falcon stuff somewhere :-)


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#19 Lost Dragon

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 06:10 PM

Now THIS is exactly the FRESH  kind of Atari information i expect to see from UK Press.

 

Looking through old, donated issue of Gamestm, i saw Rebellion interviewed, honestly didn't expect much, if anything new Jaguar wise, as Rebellion interviewed a LOT during the day by:Edge, C+VG etc, later RG magazine, Edge again (making of AVP), RVG website (threw in a good few Q's myself) so delighted to read that they went to Atari HQ with a demo of a Flying Dragon game they'd written, as Atari had just annouced The Falcon (so i assume this would of been pitched to Atari UK as a potential Falcon game?)...

 

 

Atari HQ's  Alistair Bodin is so impressed by said demo, he gets Bob Gleadow down to take a look at it, Bob loves it, says how would you like to make it a game for our new games console, The Jaguar?.

 

 

No idea why Rebellion never decided to run with the Dragon Game once AVP was done, Legions Of Undead underway, instead going with Skyhammer (then Hammerhead), maybe Atari didn't want it as Dactyl Joust was being done? or Rebellion wanted to run with a sci-fi game instead?

 

But here's a potential Falcon game killed off, by Atari itself before it even really got started, as focus had shifted to the Jaguar already it seems.


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#20 Lost Dragon

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Posted 13 August 2016 - 02:03 PM

And whilst he didn't say much about the hardware itself, sadly, John Carmack of I.D  did tweet to say he'd used the Atari Falcon briefly, during his Jaguar development work (wolf+Doom).

 

Update:Found his original comment, where he says...

 

 

 

"...and i am currently suffering with an Atari Falcon for Jaguar Work until i can port the tools to NEXTSTEP".


Edited by Lost Dragon, 18 August 2016 - 04:50 PM.





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