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Leonard Tramiel Exclusive Text Interview - Great Commodore & Atari Insight

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Leonard Tramiel Exclusive Text Interview - Great Commodore & Atari Insight

 

Commodore and Atari legend Leonard Tramiel kindly gave up some of his free time to answer some questions for Arcade Attack. He discusses his time working at both companies, developing the Jaguar and Jaguar CD as well as the ST and the canned Panther. He also gives an insight to working with his father, the amazing Jack Tramiel. It’s a lovely read with a true gaming pioneer, enjoy.

 

https://www.arcadeattack.co.uk/leonard-tramiel/

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What a great interview! He seems lovely and I'm sort of sad that his (at least) working relationship with his father seemed to be fractious, still

 

Quote

What did the Atari name mean to your personally at the time?

Atari was the second best known trademark in the world.

sort of says it all for me. If I had had the chance to be a part of Atari in 1984 (at the age of 12!) I would literally have hassled people on the streets...gone on talk shows...swam with sharks...to flog the A8 line and Atari as a valuable brand amongst enthusiasts, and not just view it as a commercial property. And I'm sure I would have run the company into the ground by 1987.

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Nice interview; he seems mellower than I expected. Good to know the ST game system would've cost too much. Good info on the Panther too; wonder what problems it had.

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Really fascinating, he looks a lot like his father did at his age(albeit with a bit more hair)

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On 5/3/2020 at 2:18 PM, Adriano Arcade said:

Leonard Tramiel Exclusive Text Interview - Great Commodore & Atari Insight

 

Commodore and Atari legend Leonard Tramiel kindly gave up some of his free time to answer some questions for Arcade Attack. He discusses his time working at both companies, developing the Jaguar and Jaguar CD as well as the ST and the canned Panther. He also gives an insight to working with his father, the amazing Jack Tramiel. It’s a lovely read with a true gaming pioneer, enjoy.

 

https://www.arcadeattack.co.uk/leonard-tramiel/

Nice to see you interview him. 

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3 hours ago, Adriano Arcade said:

Thanks my friend. Leonard is a true legend.

He's provided some useful and entertaining information over the years. 

 

He's often been made the scapegoat by others, rather than them admit their own company failings, so I appreciate you giving him a voice. 

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I think he's changed a bit even from five years ago. Even then when talking about what went wrong he still pointed to outside events. 

 

Now he seems more self reflective. Yeah there are some things we could have done differently sorta thing.

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😉 If you ever do secure an interview with Sam Tramiel, would you mind asking him about his realationship with the PRESS? 

 

Basically, by carrying on his father's tradition of using the press to ensure Atari stayed in the headlines and thus in effect gain free advertising, did he not realise his comments were literally making a rod for Atari's own back? 

 

 

Constantly talking of new hardware (Panther, various models of the XE and ST including the CDST), let alone software (when launching the Falcon in Europe he promised we'd see the biggest PC games being converted and they'd run faster and in true colour) that never appeared.. 

 

Making claims that Atari would sell a combined figure of 2 million Lynxes, Portfolio's and ST Laptops within 12 months and go onto dominate the handheld market and kill off Nintendo within 5 years... 

 

 

By the time everything depended on the Jaguar being a commercial success, nobody in the press believed a word he said and he went onto make even more absurd claims. 

 

 

Jaguar only a little way behind the Playstation hardware, more powerful than the Saturn.. 

 

Overstating the role of a UK Engineer who'd joined Atari and was part of the Jaguar Duo team. 

 

 

Did he honestly believe what he was saying or was it all just talk for the sake of showing confidence in the Atari name?. 

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Sticking with Sam... 

 

Recently found a previously unseen (by myself) interview in UK Press he did in the Summer of 1991

 

He claimed he was happy with Lynx sales, on track to reach 800,000 by end of the year.. 

 

Said Sega had screwed up the chips on the Game Gear as it suffered screen blur, Atari were looking at a TV tuner for the Lynx. 

 

Sam was happy with there only being 24 titles at that point being available on the Lynx.. because they were all quality games. 

 

The 2600 and 7800 were apparently going very well around the world, except in the USA... 

 

Really? 

 

That wasn't true of the 7800 here in the UK, it was niche at best. 

 

 

Atari had to discontinue the STFM so developers could focus on the STE... 

 

Atari with the STE was going to blow Commodore and the Amiga away.. 

 

Interviewer said given the situation here in the UK, some people might find that statement a touch contentious... Sam replies he always likes to be contentious. 

 

The Commodore CDTV was in his eyes, a con job and it wasn't going to work, you needed a keyboard for any serious work on such platforms. 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/3/2020 at 2:18 PM, Adriano Arcade said:

Leonard Tramiel Exclusive Text Interview - Great Commodore & Atari Insight

 

Commodore and Atari legend Leonard Tramiel kindly gave up some of his free time to answer some questions for Arcade Attack. He discusses his time working at both companies, developing the Jaguar and Jaguar CD as well as the ST and the canned Panther. He also gives an insight to working with his father, the amazing Jack Tramiel. It’s a lovely read with a true gaming pioneer, enjoy.

 

https://www.arcadeattack.co.uk/leonard-tramiel/

If your seriously considering interviewing Jane Whittaker, so Jane can roll out the same repeated claims about The Tramiel family, rewards for doing AVP etc.. 

 

 

I'd humbly suggest you ask Leonard and Sam Tramiel about Jane's claims of being mentored by The Tramiel family in Sunnyvale.. 

 

 

Patrick Ketchum of Cyberdreams about Jane's Dark Seed and H. R GIGER claims, yesv, Jane had minor involvement on Dark Seed, but not with Cyberdreams, only Mirage. 

 

You can also do your groundwork and look over these and read the testimonials from likes of:

 

 

Steve Turner (Graftgold) 

 

Various Ex-friends of the late Mike Singleton. 

 

 

Misc Bullfrog staff who actually worked Dungeon Keeper II

 

https://airentertainment.biz/jane-whittaker-proven-to-be-an-industry-fraud/

 

 

https://www.icemark.com/blog/archives/2018/04/16/midwinter-sid-meier-and-the-chinese-restaurant/comment-page-1/#comments

 

 

 

You can also ask BJ WEST if he or any of The Sims teams knew Jane... 

 

Then ask yourself why likes of Wireframe  Magazine and

https://www.biggamesmachine.com/portfolio/meet-jane-whittaker/…

 

have pulled online interviews with Jane, Retrogamer Magazine will never reuse the interview they did with him. 

 

The likes of yourselves and The Retro Hour podcast, really need to due some due diligence background checks. 

 

Jenovi did and he had sense to drop the interview. 

 

 

Your call.. 

Edited by Lost Dragon
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Whittaker is on Twitter now and also a member here. He does browse the forums. 

 

His Twitter seems to be mostly self promotion. 

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7 minutes ago, JagChris said:

Whittaker is on Twitter now and also a member here. He does browse the forums. 

 

His Twitter seems to be mostly self promotion. 

I'd been directed there, as told he was name dropping and trying to engage with likes of Carmack. 

 

I had a browse thinking Jane might have shared new evidence to back up his claims, just found the same, tired old Bullfrog business cards.. 

 

Whittaker states he didn't join till Peter Molyneux left, well that rules out Dungeon Keeper II and Populous III then. 

 

 

The Indestructibles was Sean Coopers baby, not Peter's. 

 

 

We then see the same tired old Atari AVP team photos... 

 

He's basically now calling the late Lance Lewis a liar, saying he did watch all the Alien/Predator films. 

 

 

The newspaper clipping of him at Goldeneye film Premier is from his local, Hull newspaper 

 

 

Leonard Tramiel and others within Atari, dispute the whole mentored by the family claim. 

 

Tempest 2000 was coded by Jeff Minter in Wales. 

 

 

Catalyst Coders, not Graftgold did C64 Flying Shark. 

 

Edge has never scored out of 100,Perceptions went bankrupt 6 months before Panasonic pulled plug on the M2 

 

 

The most basic due diligence flags Whittaker up from the off. 

 

 

But If Arcade Attack, AVP Galaxy, Retro Hour podcast want to engage with him and promote him, their call, but can't say they weren't warned. 

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Well in fairness Lance said Rebellion had to be forced to watch it. Whittaker wasn't a part of Rebellion. 

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13 hours ago, JagChris said:

Well in fairness Lance said Rebellion had to be forced to watch it. Whittaker wasn't a part of Rebellion. 

Whittaker joined Rebellion when they expanded the team for AVP, then went with Mike Beaton to the USA to join the Atari AVP team. 

Rebellion staff have given an account of his first day with them and what he was hired to do for them. 

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What a senior staffer from Bullfrog's Populous III:The Beginning said about Andrew/Jane Whittaker :

 

 

 

 

All I know about Andrew Whittaker is that his name seems to appear as the last entry in the 'Thanks To:' section of the Populous:The Beginning credits list within the game anual.

I never met anyone called Andrew Whittaker, and I have no idea what, if he had one at all, his role was in the development, nor what, if anything, he contributed.

There were a lot of people involved in the making of the game, including people from EA based in Langley, Berks, whilst the main development team was in Guildford, so it's possible that he might have contributed towards some library or support code that EA had developed, but if that was the case, I would have thought he would have had more of a credit than a 'Thanks'.

It's worth noting that of all the names on the credit list, about 99% I know who they were, or at least where they worked and what they contributed. With Andrew Whittaker, I have no idea.

It's also worth noting that I was part of the Senior Management team at Bullfrog around that time, and of course management (as well as developer) on the game itself, and one thing I can say with certainty is that nobody called Andrew Whittaker had a management role in the making of that game.

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14 hours ago, JagChris said:

Well in fairness Lance said Rebellion had to be forced to watch it. Whittaker wasn't a part of Rebellion. 

Found the Rebellion coder comments about Jane's first day with them:

 

 

Back in the very beginning of my games industry career (I'm guessing about 1994) I was working at Rebellion, on the Atari Jaguar version of Checkered Flag, when Andrew Whittaker turned up to work on Alien vs Predator, along with Mike Beaton. He turned up on a rainy day having walked from the station in his socks, as he didn't wear shoes for some inexplicable reason, and spent most of the day bemoaning the fact that nobody had been sent to collect him from the station. Amazingly he was taken on (I'm guessing his ability to bluff was already well honed by then) and so some months later when I was working in Atari's Sunnyvale offices on finishing off the game, he and Mike were there too. He claimed at some point that all of his work was done, and left Mike to work out why certain things were not working, and as I was at that time waiting for QA test results on my game I spent some time working with Mike to ascertain what was wrong. It took quite a while but I eventually discovered that Andrew had written the code (all hand-coded assembler) with hand coded jump instructions all over the place which resulted in the situation where a small change in one file to modify the behaviour of a standard enemy Alien had accidentally changed the behaviour of the Alien Queen as well, and resulted in it teleporting around the map at random.

All of this is of course something which everyone learns not to do when they first start coding - jumping about within the code just creates so many risks that in most companies I've worked at since it is specifically banned.

 
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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, JagChris said:

Well in fairness Lance said Rebellion had to be forced to watch it. Whittaker wasn't a part of Rebellion. 

Post from Rebellion :

 
Rebellion Developments. 
 
 
 

Just to make this clear (and feel free to object, Andy, if you think
this isn't fair):

Andrew Whittaker wrote the alien (marine, predator, as appropriate) AI
code, and the code for the computers.

A programmer at Atari wrote part of the startup code.

Mike Beaton wrote everything else (graphics engine, HUD code, etc).
Calling either of them 'lead coder' isn't really fair.


-- dan @ Rebellion

 

 

 

This is half the problem we face now, with each interview granted to Whittaker, he rewrites history to suit his new agenda, he suddenly never worked for Rebellion, he was never attached to Rare... 

 

 

His role on AVP has changed more times than I care to count. 

 

Hopefully Arcade Attack by now can get a sense of just how much damage Jane is causing with the wild claims. 

 

 

You can't simply claim you had a pivotal role in various flagship titles and not expect to be challenged. 

Edited by Lost Dragon

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Posted (edited)

The reference for game credits: https://www.mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/developerId,64909/

(which speaks for itself)

 

@Lost Dragon With your extended knowledge of people within the industry, have you considered writing an article (with sources and references) to (try to) finally close this topic? There are facts, yes she did work on AvP, and at several famous gaming companies later on, and some high profiles game developers have supported her in recent times (for instance nobody else than Richard Garriott himself), so I have the feeling it's not all black or white here.

 

Now when I look at her twitter account, it really feels that her only real programming achievement was the work on AvP and that she has used that experience to her advantage since then. But this happens a lot in the AAA games industry to be fair - I have a few stories I could tell one day :)

 

My feeling is that all her claims start from a truth that get twisted and quickly overexagerated. One exemple, her claims about working on Flight Simulator X. Her linkedin profile only tell about being an "advisor to the board" at Microsoft, and this is definitely not a position where you do actual work on a game. Beside she was employed at EA at that time, so I doubt EA would allow any of its employee to work elsewhere. Now I just found out about this interview today: 

 

And then while reading the comment, I stumble across one from a David Chester: 

"Well done for coming forward at last. It was a pleasure to work with you on the flight simulator projects for Robert @ Excalibur and to get to know you."

 

So it appears she did work on FSX... or... wait... who is David Chester again... Well linkedin tell you that he actually owns a small company called Addictive Simulation that create... add-ons for FSX!!! So here we are, she never worked on FSX, but maybe on some add-ons. End of the story. Now check her linkedin profile background and tell me what is her message there :roll:

 

What I personally dislike about this story is not whether she lied or exaggerated her achievements, but the fact she calls transphobic anyone who challenge her claims. She has been extremely vocal about the harassment she has suffered in the recent years and while it might be true, I haven't read anything against her gender disphoria yet, it was always about her supposedly false claims.

 

ps: What is Mike Beaton saying about her work in AvP?

Edited by LordKraken
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Just going to make a few things crystal clear before i go any further.

 

 

1.Jane is involved in a very lengthy and drawn-out court case with numerous individuals from the games industry and yes, I have been assisting in due diligence research into Jane's claims for at least 2 of them and at one point a BBC reporter. 

 

However my focus has purely been on Jane's claims to the likes of:

 

Pocket Gamer, Gamestm, Game Pro, Retrogamer Magazines Atari Explorer online etc interviews and on the GAME DEVELOPMENT side only. 

 

I refuse to get involved in anything relating to Jane's charity work, personal life, gender claims etc. 

 

 

For myself it's been very simple. 

 

 

Jane has lied about involvement and fabricated anecdotes etc with the sole purpose to provide misleading information. 

 

I have a passion for Lost Games Research and it was the utter nonsense about Power Crystal being 100% finished and reviewed, that set me onto Jane's lies. 

 

 

2.Due to the on-going Legal Proceedings, many individuals have asked for their quotes to remain anonymous and many more have submitted evidence that will only be seen by the Judge dealing with the case and cannot be made public. 

 

 

3.Literally hundreds of man hours have been put into due diligence research and believe me, it was an utter chore looking through old UK press trying to find the Stellar Trader game adverts Jane claims his father placed and game sold 1000's of copies, world wide, yet was coded from a Hospital bed. 

 

 

We also had to painstakingly gather every interview the late Mike Singleton carried out, find interviews with people from Graftgold, RARE, Bullfrog, Cyberdreams, Rebellion, Atari, Flair, Mirage, Maelstorm, MicroProse UK, Firebird etc etc. 

 

 

Then ensure via multiple source checks, that what was printed was actually true,as the press itself was happy to fabricate claims. 

 

From there, we asked if people knew Jane, put transcripts of Jane's claims to coders, producers, artists, playtesters, musicians, to see if anyone had worked with Jane in any role... 

 

 

Yes, Jane had done Data Entry on Midwinter III/Ashes Of The Empire, PLAY TESTED briefly Amiga Dark Seed whilst at Mirage, had specific roles on AVP, briefly been employed at Graftgold and worked on Flying Shark before being sacked, pitched an Amiga conversion of Uridium to Steve Turner (an early proof of concept demo, a friend of Jane's had coded). 

 

 

We also found Jason Kingsley of Rebellion liked to fabricate and change stories per interview, claiming in one he coded Atari 400/800 Star Raiders.. 

 

The origins story of Rebellion getting a Jaguar Development contract changed per interview and has now morphed into the giant claim of they were granted one on the back of their PC title, Eye Of The Storm and the Viking Longboats Vs Dragons, tech demo. 

 

 

Jason constantly swears blind he and his brother came up with the 3 Seperate campaign concept and FPS viewpoint for Jaguar AVP, James Purple Hampton strongly disputes this. 

 

 

Kingsley also swears blind he and his team which includes Whittaker, watched all the movies as research, Lance Lewis strongly disputes it. 

 

 

4.We have Jane on record saying he worked on PC AVP and his A. I routines were used on it, complete nonsense game was built from ground up for THE PC and in later statements Jane admits he wasn't at Rebellion, had nothing to do with their later AVP titles. 

 

 

We have Jane claiming Jaguar AVP A. I routines used in N64 Goldeneye, again, utter nonsense, Dr David Doak wrote his own routines. 

 

 

Jane takes credit for being digitized and providing voice work for Amiga and PC Dark Seed, no, that's Mike Dawson. 

 

 

The solicitors and Judge have been presented with a literal mountain of evidence and Jane's industry name dropping on Twitter is a very foolish move on Jane's part, as counter statements from many individuals have been obtained. 

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Apologies for long, drawn out post above, but the facts cannot be made clear enough. 

 

Many might have seen the public statements from the likes of Steve Turner, Graftgold, Patrick Ketchum Cyberdreams, misc quotes from people who worked on Power Crystal 3DO M2, PC:Dungeon Keeper II, Populous III etc. 

 

But senior level statements from people with MicroProse Atari, E A, RARE, Mirage etc have also been obtained, forwarded to the judge. 

 

A few possibly reading this know exactly what has been said in private about Jane being mentored in the USA by the Tramiel family. 

 

 

This isn't HATE speech, it's plain and simple due diligence research into exposing a serial liar, who has abused the trust of those who gave Jane a platform and a voice, when carrying out interviews in good faith for the benifit of the greater community. 

 

 

The BBC reporter was told quite bluntly by myself to jog on some months ago, I am not looking for the dirt on Whittaker, I am not researching for their behalf for a promised exposure program that will never happen until the legal proceedings are finally settled. 

 

 

Mike Beaton was approached, happy to discuss work on AVP, until we mentioned Jane. 

 

 

All communication with Mike promptly ceased at that point. 

 

Rebellion themselves refuse to comment, last i knew the BBC were in contact with Rebellion P. R staff. 

 

There was i believe some legal dispute between Whittaker and Rebellion, if that's  still on-going, i do not know. 

 

 

People can easily obtain the legal documents showing the exact date Perceptions went bankrupt, which kills the claim Power Crystal was only killed because the M2 was killed. 

 

 

I strongly dislike Liars. 

 

 

I have the utmost respect for the likes of Mike Singleton, H. R GIGER, Jack Tramiel, John Hurt and find it disgusting Jane name drops them, knowing full well due to their passing, they are unable to counter the claims. 

 

 

Jane should be proud of having had the opportunity to work alongside the people he has over the years and be humble enough to admit he was a small part of a much bigger team each time. 

 

 

Claiming AVP was his, 30 Graftgold titles, key roles on Dark Seed, helping come up with concept for Midwinter etc, is simply disgraceful. 

 

Shouting victim of hate speech as soon as anyone counters his claims or asks for proof of his roles is even worse. 

 

Putting up the same old stock photos and banging the Jaguar AVP work, won't counter any of the evidence going before the Judge and claiming misrepresentation in interviews now, is a straw man arguement. 

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