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Whatever happened to this Jaguar PC-Card?


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#1 leech OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 30, 2016 4:10 PM

So from another random thread I saw the link to this issue of ST Format that I was glancing through and saw on page 13 this article about "JAGUAR GOES PC" http://www.stformat....stf60/stf60.pdf

 

That actually would have been a brilliant move by Atari, whatever happened to this concept, just another vaporware idea that they put out there?  Granted unless it was fairly cheap, it never would have sold all that well, but still could have helped get more users, which in turn pretty much would help get more developers.



#2 Zerosquare OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 30, 2016 5:08 PM

Never heard about this. It may have been vaporware, or just an unfounded rumor.

I doubt it would have made any difference anyways. Other PC/console hybrid solutions were released (the Amstrad Mega PC, the 3DO Blaster, a video card based on the Sega Saturn hardware...) but were not successful commercially.

 

However Atari did consider using the Jaguar chipset as the basis for a computer at a time. The chipset has some features which are unused in the Jaguar, but would have made sense for a computer.



#3 leech OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 30, 2016 5:18 PM

Yeah, I don't recall ever hearing about this either.  Then again it seems that Atari is kind of similar to Nokia in that they had so many different projects going on at once that they couldn't decide on what to focus on and push forward the most.  I think they finally decided to with the Jaguar, but it was a bit too late for that, not to mention they ditched the Falcon way too soon.

 

If anything, I think boards like this are more for developers testing code than for actual end users.  Most console gamers aren't really even PC gamers, even these days.


Edited by leech, Fri Dec 30, 2016 5:22 PM.


#4 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 30, 2016 5:37 PM

Most of these "game cards" performance would usually be eclipsed by the next generation of graphics cards or even just the CPU itself. Very short lifecycle. And most people would simply get the PC version of the game. Porting eliminated the need for special hardware.

 

And even graphics boards like the stuff from 3DFx or Rendition, while longer lived and popular in niche markets, with their own custom versions of popular games, failed to evolve long term. Again, proprietary hardware in the face of the bog standard PC - not viable.

 

Since the industry was (and still is) struggling with TV/PC convergence, several companies tried these game cards as a way of branching out and finding a market. And were met with the same results. Fail. Even in my beloved Apple II world they failed hard with the Arcade Board and Sprite Board. Putting one architecture into another results in "hot-n-heavy" kludges that don't migrate upward in performance. And they inconvenience the user. And often have a limited retail life. Too specialized. Said it then and say'n it now.

 

The only practical proven ways to play games from one platform on another totally different platform is through software emulation or direct porting/rewriting.

 

You might start thinking, hey wait!! CP/M did this with Z80 cards stuffed into 6502 machines and similarly flavored antics. That's way different. Often one Z80 card would work at one speed while another at another speed. That's fine for business applications, but not games. And there was a genuine necessity, too, because standards were still coalescing back in the day. The industry still finding direction. And this Z80 CP/M thing was a business thing, set up by professionals and operated by professionals. Not a low-end consumer product. And Z80 CP/m was obsoleted, too, by next year's faster hardware anyways.. So..



#5 leech OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:22 PM

I always looked at such products as hardware emulation. Think of the biards for the amiga that had a real x86 on there to run DOS, or the pc ditto one for the ST. Granted somethimg like MAME wouldn't be realistic for all the types it reimplements, but think about the Jaguar based Arcade games like Area 51 that requires a beefy CPU to emulate. Hardware assisted emulation had been around for years before this article.

I wouldn't exaclty say 3dfx was niche, it caught on nicely and Rendition died because it didn't support the more popular 3dfx api, which was then bought by nVidia and pretty much where they got a decent amount of their tech, but of course the api died off in favor of Direct3D and OpenGL.

I guess it is a niche market called video games where people still will buy 700 graphics cards to squeeze a few more fps out of their systems (guilty here, I wanted better super samplimg in my Vive for Elite: Dangerous.)

When talking the 'PC' world, there never really was such a thing as proprietary hardware, just software/apis. It is the sole reason the other systems died off. Granted the only real reason Apple didn't die off is because Microsoft dumped a bunch of money on them... then they came up with the iPod. Granted my theory of why MS did that was so they wouldn't be split up do to having a monopoly, since they could always point out that Apple was still around...

#6 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:55 PM

I'm pretty sure the 3DO board set was self-contained aside from it needing power from the bus and a CD-ROM connection. I bet the Jag board would have been the same. The ISA interface in vogue at the time was merely a method of controlling the boards. These boards didn't use any of the PC resources for computing and in that way they aren't emulators in the slightest. They all had the same chips that were used in the stand-alone console.

 

It's like the Video Overlay card for the Apple II. The card contains a complete duplication of the Apple II. And it uses the power supply for power, and keyboard for input. And the data bus (expansion connector) to get data to the card. The host machine does little or nothing.

 

And the project where someone tied in an R-Pi to an Apple //c. The Apple //c in this situation is, again, a dumb terminal device.

 

And yet the same thing with the Amiga bridgeboards. The 68000 and AmigaChipset were mere controllers and interfaces.

 

This philosophy of using a classic computer as host to some other more advanced or faster peripheral has been around for god knows how long. And these peripherals aren't emulators, they're the real deal, albeit quite stripped down.



#7 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 30, 2016 10:18 PM

Some makers of such contraptions probably wanted a whole series of games and applications to spring up based around their board. Never going to happen. Just like the space program of today. The US Government changes administration and policy every 4 or 8 years and and wok in progress is washed away.

 

I always felt the market was moving way too fast and the products too specialized for anything to gestate into greatness. Let's look at a modern example of genuinely good software:

 

Emulator Stella has been in development since the 1990's. It doesn't resemble the original code much these days. But the host hardware core, x86, has provided the stability and longevity for it to evolve this far. And even change hands from the original developer to the current one. And is now a collaborative effort! IIRC the first versions of Emulator Stella would run on a 486 or Pentium 60/66. And like I say the code has been reworked a number of times, the host has provided enough consistency to let it evolve to what we have today.

 

Had the host-target been moving too fast the product would get dropped and forgotten. And that's the problem with the boards, they were tied to bus standard and an operating system that was going through rapid paces. In contrast, Emulator Stella wasn't all that dependent on 1 specific bus speed and 1 specific OS. It could support several, and be changed as necessary for the future. Not so with these cards.

 

They suck so hard that when you bought a new computer you had to get rid of them. Today when you buy a new computer, chances are your existing (well written) software will transfer over. If not you can virtualize or await a soon-to-arrive update & port. They paled in comparison to the original consoles which are still around today.

 

And Stellarium (a planetarium sky simulator) has been around for a decade or more, too, again because of the same reason. There are many many more examples of this.

 

I love this thread because I was fat-ass flunky for things like that. Though I only bought the 3DO board.



#8 atarian1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 30, 2016 11:49 PM

As mentioned, Atari did announce a Jaguar PC board in response to the 3DO Blaster card. However, after seeing the 3DO board fail, Atari decided that there was not a market for a videogame system on a PC board. I think it was good call considering what limited resources they had on their plate.

 

I recall this came directly from Bob Brodie himself. I forgot where he mentioned it though. It was either online or at my local user group meeting.



#9 leech OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 31, 2016 12:13 PM

Ha, yeah kind of silly to think 'hardware emulator' since as you say, real deal.  I guess Hardware emulator is more something like the MiST, where it's hardware, but it's a reimplementation of the chips in FPGA.  Rather than "we have the actual chips sitting on a card." 

 

Honestly I think the board would have been good for developers, not consumers.  Didn't Atari basically ship out a Falcon/TT030 with their Jag dev kits initially?  I'm sure someone here knows, but I kind of thought the development tools were all written for TOS, and it is mostly the homebrew guys who wrote the tools for modern computers, correct?

 

Stellarium is an awesome bit of software, both Stella and that being open source helps make it live throughout the years.  Not to mention portable code, etc.  Did anyone ever port Stella over to the ST?  (ha, getting off topic)

 

@atarian1  Wouldn't surprise me.  Granted the 3DO probably would have been far more successful had they not charged so much for it.  Same with the Neo-Geo, I'm pretty sure only the absurdly rich bought those back in the day.  I recall the cartridges being 200 bucks. 

 

Really would have been interesting if the Jaguar chipset had become the ST system after the Falcon.  Ironically, that same issue of ST Format that led to this post has a little blurb about Commodore going bankrupt, and that the other parts of Commodore will likely be merged away into another company... and then a few short years after that, Atari did the same.

 

I had watched a video on youtube a while back that had posed the theory that if Atari had stuck with being in the video game console market and hadn't skipped a few generations, and released the panther, and followed it up with the Jaguar, they would have succeeded, but that by the time Atari had come around with the Jaguar, no one knew about them outside of the success of the 2600 and possibly the failure of the the 7800 and 5200. 

 

I don't know about all of that, some may also have remembered getting a terrible version of pac-man, and wanting to throttle the poor guy who wrote E.T.  Either way, I remember even when the Jaguar came out, the younger crowd that were just hitting their late teens hadn't even heard of Atari.  This was probably a year or so after the Jag came out when I was talking to a co-worker about it. 

 

But yeah we all know it is most likely due to just not having the money in place to go against the giants.  I had always said when the first playstation was announced that Sony could make it successful simply because of the massive amounts of money they had.  Atari just had a terrible reputation with developers after pissing them off for so long.  Then hearing about Virtuality never being paid for their work on the JagVR, and it makes sense that Atari got merged away.  Still, miss the fun of the stuff, which is why we're all here!



#10 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 31, 2016 1:26 PM

That's the other aspect of these console-PC card things. They could have made excellent development tools. And did for a very tiny number of devs. The manufacturer wanted to get these into the hands of everyone, naturally, and out of the masses a few stars would rise above the noise.



#11 82-T/A OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 31, 2016 1:37 PM

That would have been pretty awesome in my opinion. I know that these "game cards" really didn't do well. I worked for CompUSA back in... I dunno... ~1995 when I was 16 and still in high school. We didn't really sell video games other than PC games, but we did have a small section that sold some more unique stuff. Mixed in there, they had a card that was sold by the company that made the 3DO. It was basically a 3DO card that you put into your computer, and then you just played 3DO games through your CD ROM drive. They really didn't know what to do with it, so they just had the first CD to "TOP GUN" the movie play on "Video Disc" through it. They didn't have DVDs back then, so video disc (not Laser Disc) was what some people were going for.



#12 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 31, 2016 3:32 PM

The card you describe is the 3DO Blaster, made by CreativeLabs - makers of the world renowned Soundblaster boards. These cards now sell for thousands on ebay.



#13 82-T/A OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 1, 2017 10:40 AM

The card you describe is the 3DO Blaster, made by CreativeLabs - makers of the world renowned Soundblaster boards. These cards now sell for thousands on ebay.

 

It's funny, we didn't sell a single one of them the entire time I worked there.


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#14 Zerosquare OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 1, 2017 3:33 PM

Didn't Atari basically ship out a Falcon/TT030 with their Jag dev kits initially?  I'm sure someone here knows, but I kind of thought the development tools were all written for TOS, and it is mostly the homebrew guys who wrote the tools for modern computers, correct?

The official Development Kit from Atari could be used on DOS and Linux on a PC (as well as TOS on a ST / Falcon).

Edited by Zerosquare, Sun Jan 1, 2017 3:33 PM.


#15 rayik ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 1, 2017 9:24 PM

The article:

The price, spec and hardware are still unclear, but if (and that's quite a big if) they can be made to work at a reasonable price, and be in the shops before Christmas ...

Total vaporware. Pure wouldn't this be cool if ... without any indication work was started on it.

#16 walter_J64bit ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 1, 2017 9:39 PM

I've seen that 3DO Blaster card and it was at CompUSA in Raleigh NC, it was '98 or '99 at the time I was just looking for games to play on my PC!  LOL  ;-) Man, I'm getting old!  :-o 



#17 skip OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 2, 2017 10:23 AM

I could've bought the 3DO Blaster for about $5-600 AU (CD ROM might have added about $150), pre PS1 and Saturn release. It was at a local PC shop (my mate's video game store was selling the 3DO for about $1100 AU at the time) and I didn't bother getting it primarily because I didn't have a capable PC at the time. It was in the store for months and I think they lowered the price to $200 at some point. 

If only I knew...

(I was already a die hard Jag fan at the time...and I eventually bought at 3DO for $25 in Japan so I can't complain).



#18 leech OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 2, 2017 1:49 PM

The official Development Kit from Atari could be used on DOS and Linux on a PC (as well as TOS on a ST / Falcon).

Whoa, they supported Linux back in '94-'96? Interesting.  I started using Linux around '96-'97.  It was pretty raw but fun (3 days for a network install of Debian over dial-up). 

 

On the note of the 3DO I kind of seem to recall seeing the same thing at CompUSA back in the day.  I also seem to recall thinking they were about the same price as a full blown 3DO, so why get one that you have to also have to put all the computer around? 

 

I always kind of wanted a 3DO, but price and overall lack of unique games makes it one of those things where I don't know if it'd be worth it to invest in it more than just emulation.



#19 PeterG OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 2, 2017 2:24 PM

I'm still looking out for a really cheap 3DO. I always thought it would be the perfect complementary console for the Jaguar since some of the announced games that never made it to the Jag appeared on it.

#20 Seedy1812 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 4, 2017 7:03 AM

The official Development Kit from Atari could be used on DOS and Linux on a PC (as well as TOS on a ST / Falcon).

The first Jag Devkit I saw back in Nov 93 was in a PC case - it was not a PC and then after that we had the proper Jaguar's as devkits with Alpine boards.  We used Falcons and TTs ( huge screen :D ) for DinoDudes ,Raiden and Zool.  We did not have our own PC's back then. I used Devpac on the TT for Dinodudes for editing etc and then used the command line stuff for building the rom and debugger. The next game Bubsy I can't remember if we moved over to PC's as the Brainstorm software was usable and I do remember that I-War was on PC's with the floppy disc version of networking :D

From doing stuff on the ST with Devpac and then going to CLI tools on the Falcon and TT was a pain.

Looking back at the PC graphic cards , with a couple of years 3D cards were just starting to make an appearance and on the PC 320x240 was so out of date you would have need a much more powerful Jaguar to even compete. I remember working on a 3dfx game and then seeing the Nuon at ECTS noticed the lack in resolution.



#21 Clint Thompson OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 4, 2017 7:12 AM

The first Jag Devkit I saw back in Nov 93 was in a PC case - it was not a PC and then after that we had the proper Jaguar's as devkits with Alpine boards.  We used Falcons and TTs ( huge screen :D ) for DinoDudes ,Raiden and Zool.  We did not have our own PC's back then. I used Devpac on the TT for Dinodudes for editing etc and then used the command line stuff for building the rom and debugger. The next game Bubsy I can't remember if we moved over to PC's as the Brainstorm software was usable and I do remember that I-War was on PC's with the floppy disc version of networking :D

From doing stuff on the ST with Devpac and then going to CLI tools on the Falcon and TT was a pain.

Looking back at the PC graphic cards , with a couple of years 3D cards were just starting to make an appearance and on the PC 320x240 was so out of date you would have need a much more powerful Jaguar to even compete. I remember working on a 3dfx game and then seeing the Nuon at ECTS noticed the lack in resolution.

 

I owned one of these but the unit I had was missing one of the daughterboards I believe and from what I remember also didn't have any hard drive included so I opted to sell it. Want to say it was a Felix or Rapier kit but could be way off since it's been forever. Think Scott ended up with it but not sure who actually owns it at this point.

 

Fascinating to hear about I-WAR on the PC with Networking - sounds fun! =) Don't take it any of that stuff remains?


Edited by Clint Thompson, Wed Jan 4, 2017 7:54 AM.


#22 Seedy1812 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 5, 2017 3:51 AM

 

I owned one of these but the unit I had was missing one of the daughterboards I believe and from what I remember also didn't have any hard drive included so I opted to sell it. Want to say it was a Felix or Rapier kit but could be way off since it's been forever. Think Scott ended up with it but not sure who actually owns it at this point.

 

Fascinating to hear about I-WAR on the PC with Networking - sounds fun! =) Don't take it any of that stuff remains?

 

I should add the that I-War was only written using the PCs instead of Atari machines and the networking using floppy's was due to the office not having a network. So any source code we wanted to share had to be passed by floppy disc. Only 1 PC had access to a modem so every day when we uploaded a rom image to Atari we had to copy the data off our machines via floppy to that once machine and we sent it zipped up in chunks. The amount of hours wasted at the end of day. That was when I started to read a lot more :)



#23 Clint Thompson OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 5, 2017 8:41 AM

 

I should add the that I-War was only written using the PCs instead of Atari machines and the networking using floppy's was due to the office not having a network. So any source code we wanted to share had to be passed by floppy disc. Only 1 PC had access to a modem so every day when we uploaded a rom image to Atari we had to copy the data off our machines via floppy to that once machine and we sent it zipped up in chunks. The amount of hours wasted at the end of day. That was when I started to read a lot more  :)

 

...with a 9,600 baud modem ;-)



#24 Pete5125 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:59 AM

Jag CD was only on the market for about 6 months before most all support from Atari ended and they had merged with the disk drive company.  The year 96 was suppose to be the big one with Batman, MK3, the  Sega titles, and Atari getting to release games on Sega Saturn and the launch of Jaguar games on the DOS format, but 96 was instead turned into cancel all games that weren't near complete, get Atari infomercials going and stay alive another year by releasing bare bones lineup. 



#25 leech OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:33 AM

Yeah, I was reading about all the lawsuits last night. Atari turned into a whiney patent troll after Sam took over, from what I understand / remember. So sad from a company who has made products I have loved since the 2600 days.

I always wondered... why JTS? I mean going from the greatest video game maker to merge with a hard drive manufacturer? One that I had never even heard of until the merger? I knew one dude who had a JTS drive afterward and it died on him a week after he defragged it 14 times in one night... (funny story about that perhaps for another time...)




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