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Hello,

 

I was part of the Atari Sparrow development team and happen to own the original prototype of the system (unfortunately not in a working condition).

I have both the original development boards we used to the develop the ASIC’s (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) and the Sparrow first prototype machine we used to validate the system and software.

I'm sure this is very rare and it's for collectors only (as it's not working...).

I would like to put this for sale and would like to hear your opinion of how much this can be worth (or if someone is interested to bid this)

 

I’m adding few pictures.

 

Eli.

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If you look at pictures seven and one you might be able to imagine it's the step between 1040 STe and Falcon.

The board which seems to be the development board has some looks of a 1040 STe (pic 7), and the prototype looks very much like a Falcon (pic 1).

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Awesome pictures! Thanks for sharing. I hope it goes to a good home and gets restored to working condition.

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It's a shame it's not working - looks to be a lot of odd wires and pin headers all over the place. If it was working I reckon you could have got £500 to £1000, possibly more. As it is it's probably going to be spares for another Sparrow - if there's one still out there. If you are lucky someone with expert technical skills who's had exposure to the Falcon workings or Sparrow might want to buy it to try and fix it but even that would be a challenge I think and ultimately will probably lower its value. My guess is < £200 but I could be wrong.

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Out of interest what's wrong with it? And if you were on the technical team why haven't you fixed it yet - you would get way more money, even with missing keys.

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One of the Atari magazine had pictures of the Sparrow in it.... Can't remember which

one it was though.

 

Might be interesting to compare.

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Sparrow to Falcon... hilarious.

 

Chirp!

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While idea of fixing it sounds very attractive, especially for someone like me, who fixed a lot of computers, I think that this is not compatible with final Falcon, so even if make it work, it will not run most of Falcon SW.

 

Since it is rare prototype, it should go in some museum, for sure. I know some people maintaining retro computer museums in Hungary and Croatia - will point them on this. Don't expect some big offers :)

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The first photograph, this is a (modified?) Falcon motherboard. Look and see if there is a jumper on pins 20 and 22 of connector J20. Without this fitted it won't work. Might be worth a try to get it going again?

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It's a Sparrow board, not a Falcon one.

The Sparrow is a prototype of what later became the Falcon.

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While idea of fixing it sounds very attractive, especially for someone like me, who fixed a lot of computers, I think that this is not compatible with final Falcon, so even if make it work, it will not run most of Falcon SW.

 

Since it is rare prototype, it should go in some museum, for sure. I know some people maintaining retro computer museums in Hungary and Croatia - will point them on this. Don't expect some big offers :)

 

That's correct, even if working it doesn't support all of the high colour modes of the Falcon, and from what i've read there will be other compatibilities due to TOS version and the bespoke nature of that particular proto.

 

You need to find an existing owner really. Don't just stick it on EBAY, drum up interest first. Post on atari-forums.com if you haven't already done so.

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There are quite a few Sparrows floating about, they were also called FX-1's at one point as well... there is nothing radically unique about them, I've picked a couple of ranging from $250-$350, none of them work... so this not unique or terribly rare.

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So Falcon is made by adding and changing part od ST(e)?

 

But what about never finished Microbox (Falcon040)? Should it be completly new design? Are specification of Microbox even known?

 

---

http://www.maedicke.de/atari/hardware/sparrow.htm this site claim that 150 Sparrow/FX1 were produced... Btw I would say that unique are developers board in this case.

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On atari-forum we have thread about Falcon history and Falcon designers, take a look, there are few interesting comments:

http://www.atari-forum.com/viewtopic.php?f=92&t=23603

Edited by calimero

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So Falcon is made by adding and changing part od ST(e)?

Falcon (and also TT) was an evolution of ST. It is quite natural. We can observe that also in case A1200, which was based on A500 and it shares more that 80% parts of its predecessor. Parts like blitter, paula/sound, cooper are the same as in A500. Also memory bus is the same (but expanded to 32bit) and slow as in A500

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Nice machine. I believe Best or B&C have some FX-1 name plates for sale still. Maybe they have some spare keys too. I would do that and clean it up a little and it should sell nicely to a collector.

Edited by tjlazer

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I'd purchased a Sparrow from Wizztronics many years ago. Think one I had was closer to a ''finished'' Falcon prototype than the one in the above photos. Was hoping that more of the chips were socketed on the unit, but it was very unlike the one above. The CPU and DSP were SMT, prevented too much experimenting. The unit did work well, but as said above, was incompatibe with much of the ''Falcon" software at that time AIRC. Pretty sure the DSP was the higher density SMT 56000, and would have been possible to fit one of the much faster 56 DSP's of the time.

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Sparrow to Falcon... hilarious.

 

Chirp!

There was also Robin, the proposed low-cost ST in a 65/130XE case. ;)

 

Falcon (and also TT) was an evolution of ST. It is quite natural. We can observe that also in case A1200, which was based on A500 and it shares more that 80% parts of its predecessor. Parts like blitter, paula/sound, cooper are the same as in A500. Also memory bus is the same (but expanded to 32bit) and slow as in A500

The Falcon was a more radical advance than the Amiga's AGA, both in terms of direct comparison to AGA and in terms of the leap from STe to Falcon . . . though there's the TT to consider too. From what I understand, the base Falcon chipset could be configued for a considerably more powerful set-up than what the Falcon used, but it didn't mainly to keep costs down. (I guess resources were too tight at that point to try pushing both a high-end and low/mid-range model at once . . . kind of ironic given the TT went the polar opposite route with a complete lack of a low-end counterpart, and given Atari's general market niche it seems like pushing high end only was a bigger risk than low/mid range -at least in terms of pricing, not necessairly performance/capability)

 

The original ST design was so simple, clean, and (reasonably) well organized that there were very open possibilities for evolution while maintaining compatibility (without waste/redundancy); unfortunately that wasn't really taken advantage of in the long run. (or too inconsistently to really work out for Atari or their users) Mind you, I'm not talking about expandability of a single system/model, but potential for updated/advanced evolutions of the original chipset for use in later model machines.

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Wasn't the Robin going to be an ST based game console?

I think that Panther was Atari in-house project for game console (based on ST technology).

 

They shut it down when Flare guys come in with Jaguar.

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^

I would said that text on wikipedia is not accurate! Later I will post interview with john mathias where he said that atari already have console project without name, based on st, and that he gave it name Panther!...

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In my mind, I always thought the Panther was a STE-based game console...

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