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Call for (not so technical) questions -- Atari's product manager 1991-96


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#1 mikro OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 5, 2017 2:43 AM

(dunno how to properly announce it also for Lynx/Jaguar fans out there, should I copy&paste it to the related forum?)
 
Hi guys,
 
one day I was browsing some old Atari documents and noticed a name I had seen before -- Jerry Smith. Quick search has revealed it's one of the Atari's main guys after the Tramiels, i.e. a person who had to approve every hardware modification, PCB change, issue new revisions, talk to the HW/SW guys and the Tramiels, simply to make sure the production of the given Atari goes as planned.
 
One way or another I managed to get in touch with him and he agreed to participate in an interview (still not sure whether it will be written, via skype or both). So I'd like to brainstorm some questions, as the title suggests, he spent the worst and best times at Atari, during production of the TT/MegaSTE (perhaps only took over), Lynx, Falcon and Jaguar right to the bitter end.
 
So far I've been thinking about:
- the famous "how many Falcons is out there" :)
- what was the deal with C-Lab, did they really produce new units (I think so) or just bought old stock from Atari
- who was responsible for cancellation of the Falcon? Was it because of poor market performance, lack of developers (moved to Jaguar?)
- can you remember the Falcon hardware engineering team, who had designed it?
- can you think of some way to obtain ASICs, schematics etc for the Falcon ICs?
- were there any plans to stay in Jaguar business after the JTS merge?
 
As you can see, mine are mostly Falcon specific, so anything Lynx/Jaguar/Tramiel related is more than welcome. Remember it's stuff from 20 years ago so have mercy. :)


#2 exxosuk OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 5, 2017 3:00 PM

That sounds great!

 

ASIC designs for ST chips for sure, source code for TOS (is it likely to be abandonware now).   Also, why did Atari do so many prototypes of stuff that never went into manufacture.   Also why the hell did they not go 32bit for the falcon's 030, Assume it was cost cutting on adding a second ROM to make 32bit access to TOS. Similar with RAM.   Assume its all down to costs and time scales. I guess if Atari did any more work on the falcon it would have never got out the door at all. 



#3 Trew OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 5, 2017 3:35 PM

The question we've been asking round here recently is how many Lynxes were ever sold. Might not be his remit, but any light he can shed on its popularity would be great.



#4 Lynxman OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 5, 2017 7:05 PM

Why Atari made so many different Boards for the 1040 STF?

How many STBooks produced?

#5 jeremiahjt OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 5, 2017 7:55 PM

Of course any sales data he has would be awesome.  Total sales would work, but a breakdown of different versions sales, i.e. Lynx I vs. Lynx II, would be especially welcome.



#6 leech ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 6, 2017 12:44 AM

One Lynx question: it seems the Lynx was popular enough to get a revision to the Lynx II, yet the game library is so small?  Curious what happened there.



#7 exxosuk OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 6, 2017 3:55 AM

Why Atari made so many different Boards for the 1040 STF?

 

+1. 



#8 ggn OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 6, 2017 4:51 AM

"Dave StaUgas loves Bea Hablig" - when did they find out?

#9 zzip OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 6, 2017 7:46 AM

 

(dunno how to properly announce it also for Lynx/Jaguar fans out there, should I copy&paste it to the related forum?)
 
Hi guys,
 
one day I was browsing some old Atari documents and noticed a name I had seen before -- Jerry Smith. Quick search has revealed it's one of the Atari's main guys after the Tramiels, i.e. a person who had to approve every hardware modification, PCB change, issue new revisions, talk to the HW/SW guys and the Tramiels, simply to make sure the production of the given Atari goes as planned.
 
One way or another I managed to get in touch with him and he agreed to participate in an interview (still not sure whether it will be written, via skype or both). So I'd like to brainstorm some questions, as the title suggests, he spent the worst and best times at Atari, during production of the TT/MegaSTE (perhaps only took over), Lynx, Falcon and Jaguar right to the bitter end.
 
So far I've been thinking about:
- the famous "how many Falcons is out there" :)
- what was the deal with C-Lab, did they really produce new units (I think so) or just bought old stock from Atari
- who was responsible for cancellation of the Falcon? Was it because of poor market performance, lack of developers (moved to Jaguar?)
- can you remember the Falcon hardware engineering team, who had designed it?
- can you think of some way to obtain ASICs, schematics etc for the Falcon ICs?
- were there any plans to stay in Jaguar business after the JTS merge?
 
As you can see, mine are mostly Falcon specific, so anything Lynx/Jaguar/Tramiel related is more than welcome. Remember it's stuff from 20 years ago so have mercy. :)

 

 

My biggest curiosity about the Tramiel era was how they could put a groundbreaking computer like the ST together so quickly and affordably-  in just a matter of months.

 

But then upgrades to the ST/TT/Falcon line were slow coming, often rather expensive, and outdated by the time they released.

 

Not sure how exactly to phrase it as an interview question.  And I could probably guess the answers, but be interested in hearing an explanation from an insider. 



#10 Lost Dragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 6, 2017 9:15 AM

I would welcome anything he could add towards actual numbers of the Lynx sold, but please don't suggest a figure as we've seen Darryl Still going along with 1 put to him, used as fact in RetroGamer Magazine.

Other than that..if he has any thoughts or information on the Panther console or games planned for it, that would be great.

Fantastic to see a new source being approached and very grateful to you for doing this.

#11 DarkLord OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 7, 2017 12:25 PM

Breakdown of all sales would be great, as was suggested above, specifically I'd like to know

how many STacy's were sold.

 

Also, since some early STacy's came with the expansion port (like a Mega ST's), what were

Atari's plans for that and why did they remove it in later models?

 

Can't wait to read this - thanks for a making it happen Mikro!  :)



#12 calimero OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 11, 2017 2:34 AM

Hi Mikro,
you mention that Jerry Smith was main guy after Tramiels but his name was not mention AT ALL in great Atari Corp. timeline by Michael Current: http://mcurrent.name...technology.html
Maybe we should inform Michael about Jerry Smith?

You mention that he was involved in TT/MegaSTE so I am not sure if he can answer to all these questions:

 

1)
Please ask him about Atari EST. What happened to it and did EST eventually become Atari TT?
http://www.atarimuse...16bits/est.html
http://st-news.com/i...-shiraz-shivji/

 

2)
What impact on Atari Corp. have leaving of Shiraz Shivji? Is it connected to not delivering Atari EST and delays in releasing TT?

 

3)
When Jack Tramiel relinquish himself from key decision making in Atari Corp.? Did Sam Tramiel took this role?

 

4)
same question as ZZIP: "My biggest curiosity about the Tramiel era was how they could put a groundbreaking computer like the ST together so quickly and affordably-  in just a matter of months. But then upgrades to the ST/TT/Falcon line were slow coming, often rather expensive, and outdated by the time they released."

 

5)
What happened with Atari Falcon040 and Microbox (is it the same project/computer)? What are the boards that we see on internet? e.g. http://www.atarimuse.../falcon030.html

 

6)
When, how and why Atari Corp. decide to leave computer market?

 

7)
What happened to STpad?
http://www.old-compu...uter.asp?c=269

 

8) How is possible that Jack did not see that Federated Group was in bad shape? and how they handle it? How much impact it had on Atari Corp. future?
http://www.nytimes.c...ted-stores.html



#13 calimero OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 11, 2017 2:43 AM

Why Atari made so many different Boards for the 1040 STF?
 

 

maybe answer is in another topic: http://atariage.com/...-of-moores-law/

 

"Xebec, on 04 Jul 2017 - 3:01 PM, said:

I finally studied the motherboards of the STE vs the ST(fm) and noticed that the new STE chips are often combos of old ST chips (i.e. GST = MMU+GLUE),...
Is it fair to assume these chips were also manufactured on a newer process than the original chips enabling more transistors for the same or lower cost?"

 

ijor replay:

Yes. This happened already even before the STE. There are several generations of the chipset. Each one based in a newer and cheaper process."



#14 Zogging Hell OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:57 AM

A bit similar to zzips question but I'd like to know if the STe was deliberately 'hobbled' in terms of capabilities to stop it cannablising sales of the TT/ Mega STe.



#15 Lynxman OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 11, 2017 4:56 AM

maybe answer is in another topic: http://atariage.com/...-of-moores-law/
 
"Xebec, on 04 Jul 2017 - 3:01 PM, said:
I finally studied the motherboards of the STE vs the ST(fm) and noticed that the new STE chips are often combos of old ST chips (i.e. GST = MMU+GLUE),...
Is it fair to assume these chips were also manufactured on a newer process than the original chips enabling more transistors for the same or lower cost?"
 
ijor replay:
Yes. This happened already even before the STE. There are several generations of the chipset. Each one based in a newer and cheaper process."


I did not ask for the chipset.
I ask for the Motherboard PCB-designs.
All chipset variants for the ST-line run in all 1040 Mobo.
Maybe i should modify my question:

Why Atari made so many differen PCB-designs of the 1040 Motherboard? Position of components, different memory chip package etc.?
Such kind of changes was only made at the 1040 so many times.

#16 Junosix OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 11, 2017 4:01 PM

Did Atari use STs themselves to run the company, or did they all have PCs?



#17 calimero OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:10 AM

Did Atari use STs themselves to run the company, or did they all have PCs?

 

They use STs.

 

Someone mention even database program that employees use but I can not remember where I read this.

 

Anyway. Good question!



#18 landondyer OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:38 PM

Did Atari use STs themselves to run the company, or did they all have PCs?

 

Interim computers (whatever worked; think Apple Lisas and some random 68K systems) until STs with hard drives were available. We also used Vaxes (running VMS and bsd Unix). The hardware folks had some CAD systems (Mentor, I think). No PCs during my time there.

 

Much of the financial stuff was being done on the VAX/VMS system, but I don't know the packages they used.



#19 zzip OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:59 AM

 

They use STs.

 

Someone mention even database program that employees use but I can not remember where I read this.

 

Anyway. Good question!

 

Mega's I hope?  Much better keyboard for productivity work



#20 Junosix OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:10 AM

Excellent! That's really cool to know.

Edited by Junosix, Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:11 AM.


#21 empsolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:51 AM

Was it a real surprise to Atari execs when it turned out that the real winner of the Atari-Commodore war was IBM and Microsoft?


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#22 JagCD OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 2:26 PM

Was it a real surprise to Atari execs when it turned out that the real winner of the Atari-Commodore war was IBM and Microsoft?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

I'm not sure IBM got much benefit, either -- their consumer computer division died about 10 years after Commodore 

(circa 2005)....  Although Lenovo purchased its corpse and is now thriving with it.



#23 LoTonah OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 4:21 PM

 

Mega's I hope?  Much better keyboard for productivity work

 

If I had to guess, they were probably using refurbished, standard ST units.  Every cash-strapped computer business that I've ever seen/worked for have tried to use what they can't sell.



#24 DarkLord OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:51 AM

Did Atari use STs themselves to run the company, or did they all have PCs?

 

I can remember John Jainschigg in Atari Explorer saying that the Mega STe in

their office had quietly taken over most of the work load...



#25 zzip OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:42 AM

Was it a real surprise to Atari execs when it turned out that the real winner of the Atari-Commodore war was IBM and Microsoft?


I don't think that was obvious to anybody in 84 when the Tramiels took over Atari. By the late 80s, the trend was noticeable, and by the early 90s it was inevitable.




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