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Another missed opportunity by Atari?

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Was just reading up on the TT and saw that they actually started developing it before the STe line.  I guess depending on all of the timing of it, was it a missed opportunity to include the TT Video shifter in the STe line?  Was it a case of also needing a faster CPU to get a decent performance in the newer resolutions? 

 

Or even if they provided an upgrade board to the Mega ST to get the TT Video Shifter and an 030 processor?  Is something like that even possible?  Sure seems like it would have been an awesome thing to have released!  I mean I understand why the STe came out as it did (basically a catch up to the A500), but it seems if it weren't for Jack's race to the cheapest system, they could have released the STe with TT resolutions and an 020 making it a little closer (but not quite there) to the A1200 a few years before! 

 

Just a thought.  I made a comment elsewhere in a rant about how Atari seemed to always get the short end of the stick when it came to development, as both the Atari 8bit and 16/32 bit systems were almost always targeted toward the lowest common denominator, like 16/48kb of ram for 8bit games, and 512kb in a lot of cases for the ST line (Shadow of the Beast being a prime example there).  Other systems had development taking advantage of upgrades, especially the PC.  Imagine if everyone there had coded for 640kb, CGA and no sound card?  The entire computer landscape would be different now.  Granted, anyone old enough to remember the 3D accelerator wars remember how terrible it was to be a PC gamer during that time.  Pick a card, maybe a handful of games would provide patches or specific versions to utilize that card... and there were SO many different APIs...

 

Third party developers rarely took advantage of newer hardware for the Atari line anyhow, so maybe they thought about that when deciding how much above the ST the STe line would be... Only a handful of companies actually released STe enhanced games, and really hardly any that were STe specific back in the day.

 

Anyhow, just a random rant.  The original rant was about someone saying VR is a niche thing and will never catch on, and my argument was pointing out that with the mishmash of 3d accelerators and the attitudes back then, it still was adopted so much so that now VR is one of the things pushing the tech forward as 3D acceleration did back then!  It's very similar cases where we have Oculus / Facebook doing their own store within a platform, requiring their hardware to get at their software library, and then Steam being the 'we don't care what hardware you use, just use something!' place.  Kind of Voodoo vs Rendition, etc all over again.

 

Either way, competition is great!  Just wish Atari and Commodore would have stopped competing against each other and tried to target other markets like Wintel systems did, so they could have survived.  Either that, or they needed to be buddies with Bill Gates and get tasty bailout money :P

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Whoof, can't even imagine the amount of ink that's been spilled about Atari's missed opportunities.  What a tragedy it all ended up being.

 

Expandability (or lack therefo) was always an Achilles heel of the ST.  And the STe always seemed like something of an underwhelming upgrade at the time - too little, too late.  I've always felt that Atari had a pretty interesting gameplan with the "Sparrow/FX-1" (what became the Falcon) and a true 32 bit Falcon030/040 in a Microbox case (both with the DSP) as the next generation roadmap of machines but obviously lacked the resources to make it really happen, and were a year or two behind in introducing them if they really want to create a splash (although I can't recall the specific timelines around availability and cost of the chipsets involved).  Rolling the Jaguar graphics system in there somewhere would have also been really interesting, although I'm guessing the bottom would have fallen out anyway by 97/98.

 

Jack's Atari was always too cheap, too focused on hardware (and nickel and diming it, to boot) over software, not developer friendly, and run too much like a small "family" business.  Sam and Leonard running the company?  Yikes.  

 

Things I've always thought were critical missed opportunities:

 

1) The whole Amiga rights fiasco.  Would possibly have allowed Atari to step all over Commodore and the Atari/Commodore market wouldn't have been split like it was.

 

2) Not introducing a ST based console in 87/88.  No wasted time or effort with the 7800/XEGS and may have stomped Nintendo (although Atari's lack of savvy with developer relations may have scuttled this anyway).

 

3) Not getting UNIX out the door for the TT expeditiously and positioning it as a true workstation computer, which the hardware was clearly built and priced for.  Could have made major inroads at universities and companies here.

 

4) Letting Commodore own the broadcast video market with the Amiga's video mode and subsequent Video Toaster accessory.  Being able to make serious inroads into both the music AND video production markets would have allowed them to wall off a niche market.

 

There are more, of course.  Although what really blows my mind with the benefit of being a couple decades removed from it all was really how brief the ST platform's lifespan was.  1985-1993.  Just 8 years.

 

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And one other idle thought: my vague recollection from the days of pre-release STe rumors was that it was supposed to have a 68020, so you are on to something there.

 

That may have been mostly fanboy dreaming fueling the rumors but I definitely remember hearing that back then.

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59 minutes ago, ChrisM said:

Whoof, can't even imagine the amount of ink that's been spilled about Atari's missed opportunities.  What a tragedy it all ended up being.

 

Expandability (or lack therefo) was always an Achilles heel of the ST.  And the STe always seemed like something of an underwhelming upgrade at the time - too little, too late.  I've always felt that Atari had a pretty interesting gameplan with the "Sparrow/FX-1" (what became the Falcon) and a true 32 bit Falcon030/040 in a Microbox case (both with the DSP) as the next generation roadmap of machines but obviously lacked the resources to make it really happen, and were a year or two behind in introducing them if they really want to create a splash (although I can't recall the specific timelines around availability and cost of the chipsets involved).  Rolling the Jaguar graphics system in there somewhere would have also been really interesting, although I'm guessing the bottom would have fallen out anyway by 97/98.

 

Jack's Atari was always too cheap, too focused on hardware (and nickel and diming it, to boot) over software, not developer friendly, and run too much like a small "family" business.  Sam and Leonard running the company?  Yikes.  

 

Things I've always thought were critical missed opportunities:

 

1) The whole Amiga rights fiasco.  Would possibly have allowed Atari to step all over Commodore and the Atari/Commodore market wouldn't have been split like it was.

 

2) Not introducing a ST based console in 87/88.  No wasted time or effort with the 7800/XEGS and may have stomped Nintendo (although Atari's lack of savvy with developer relations may have scuttled this anyway).

 

3) Not getting UNIX out the door for the TT expeditiously and positioning it as a true workstation computer, which the hardware was clearly built and priced for.  Could have made major inroads at universities and companies here.

 

4) Letting Commodore own the broadcast video market with the Amiga's video mode and subsequent Video Toaster accessory.  Being able to make serious inroads into both the music AND video production markets would have allowed them to wall off a niche market.

 

There are more, of course.  Although what really blows my mind with the benefit of being a couple decades removed from it all was really how brief the ST platform's lifespan was.  1985-1993.  Just 8 years.

 

Yeah, crazy to think that both the Amiga and the ST lasted less than a decade as far as actual development of the hardware went.  Fast and furious time of development there.  Granted I guess the Amiga had a lot more R&D behind it than the ST did. 

For your point number 2) that seriously blows my mind.  Atari could have released the 7800 in '84 like they were supposed to, then released an ST based console in 87/88 that was very Genesis like in behavior.  Maybe even had backward compatibility with 7800/2600 games.  You know all of us would have bought one!

At least for the Unix thing, everyone else had tried to build one too, but they all failed / never finished as well.  Sure would have been sweet back then to have some Unix workstations that weren't mega expensive though!

 

For point 4.  You know, I thought the other day how weird it is that Apple managed to somehow capture what had been previously 100% owned by the Amiga and the Toaster.  It really was Commodore's fault that it happened, they should have been pimping the shit out of that feature and gotten it picked up everywhere.  A big part of the problem was that Commodore's sales in the US were kind of crap, and match that with the Toaster only working on NTSC... just kind of helped seal their fate.

 

The USA usually tends to favor things that are overly expensive, but aren't well built for the snobby people, or cheap things that are poorly built for the non-snobby people.  Anything that's solid and works well and is average price apparently isn't right for us.  :P

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2 minutes ago, ChrisM said:

And one other idle thought: my vague recollection from the days of pre-release STe rumors was that it was supposed to have a 68020, so you are on to something there.

 

That may have been mostly fanboy dreaming fueling the rumors but I definitely remember hearing that back then.

I think I kind of heard that somewhere as well, though it was years later, as news of things in the USA was a bit low pre-internet days.

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Some notes:

ST and STE have  pretty much well designed video (shifter) , and that it work without slowing down CPU - RAM, MMU are designed in that goal. Looking that it was done in 1985, with relative slow and cheap RAM chips, it was nice achievement, and for sure best price/performance ratio. Some may say: 'only 16 colors' - forgetting what was common then in other home computers, PCs .

Implementing TT video modes in STE ? Just a bad idea. And main problem is not that bigger video RAM would need more CPU power to fill/update.

It would need in higher res, more color modes different way of working, and not possible to maintain not slowing CPU anymore in them. What would be not problem for instance in some adventure, paint program and like. However it would rise price a lot. Atari TT was much more expensive, and if they offered some of it's features in STE, that would lower TT sales for sure - in short, no serious company what would do such thing.

Then, higher res modes would not work on TVs and monitors like SC1224 - and there was already such mode implemented - ST high res, and needed special monitor.

So, people should buy some expensive color monitor for them. And forget their SM one.

 

ST based console ? Completely bad idea ...

Some just forget that ST was big success over 5 years, especially in Europe. It was designed as universal computer, could say as balanced computer - good more less for almost everything.  As real reason for Atari failure around 1992-3 I see slow development, in HW and even slower in SW (TOS), then lack of multi purpose expansion slot - good for RAM, TOS and other upgrades, and not changing with every model (one type in Mega ST, other in TT, another in Falcon ...) . And of course mass production of PC clones, with custom chips.

 

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On 11/11/2020 at 7:54 PM, leech said:

Was just reading up on the TT and saw that they actually started developing it before the STe line.  I guess depending on all of the timing of it, was it a missed opportunity to include the TT Video shifter in the STe line?  Was it a case of also needing a faster CPU to get a decent performance in the newer resolutions? .... ... 

Here you can find info about 32bit Atari - before it become TT  https://www.atari-forum.com/viewtopic.php?p=213187#p213187

 

You will find info about Atari EST ... and lot more!

 

btw

I agree with Petari. ST was great for 1985. but they should have made TT sooner. I think that biggest problem was that Shiraz Shivji started work on EST (68020 ST/TT) but when he left Atari Corp., there was some gap/slow down, of development 32bit Atari. Atari hire Roy Good as lead for 32bit Atari but they change goals (move away from TOS to Unix) and thus prolong Atari TT development (e.g. try to make Unix workstation like Sun, Next, HP...). Too bad.

 

Sad since Atari ST bring some of the best DTP, CAD, Vector, Graphics, WordProcessing and Database... software at time :( and more powerful hardware with TOS upgrade would ensure that software continue to be developed for Atari.

Edited by calimero
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On 11/11/2020 at 1:54 PM, leech said:

Was just reading up on the TT and saw that they actually started developing it before the STe line.  I guess depending on all of the timing of it, was it a missed opportunity to include the TT Video shifter in the STe line?  Was it a case of also needing a faster CPU to get a decent performance in the newer resolutions? 

 

Or even if they provided an upgrade board to the Mega ST to get the TT Video Shifter and an 030 processor?  Is something like that even possible?  Sure seems like it would have been an awesome thing to have released!  I mean I understand why the STe came out as it did (basically a catch up to the A500), but it seems if it weren't for Jack's race to the cheapest system, they could have released the STe with TT resolutions and an 020 making it a little closer (but not quite there) to the A1200 a few years before! 

 

Just a thought.  I made a comment elsewhere in a rant about how Atari seemed to always get the short end of the stick when it came to development, as both the Atari 8bit and 16/32 bit systems were almost always targeted toward the lowest common denominator, like 16/48kb of ram for 8bit games, and 512kb in a lot of cases for the ST line (Shadow of the Beast being a prime example there).  Other systems had development taking advantage of upgrades, especially the PC.  Imagine if everyone there had coded for 640kb, CGA and no sound card?  The entire computer landscape would be different now.  Granted, anyone old enough to remember the 3D accelerator wars remember how terrible it was to be a PC gamer during that time.  Pick a card, maybe a handful of games would provide patches or specific versions to utilize that card... and there were SO many different APIs...

 

Third party developers rarely took advantage of newer hardware for the Atari line anyhow, so maybe they thought about that when deciding how much above the ST the STe line would be... Only a handful of companies actually released STe enhanced games, and really hardly any that were STe specific back in the day.

 

Anyhow, just a random rant.  The original rant was about someone saying VR is a niche thing and will never catch on, and my argument was pointing out that with the mishmash of 3d accelerators and the attitudes back then, it still was adopted so much so that now VR is one of the things pushing the tech forward as 3D acceleration did back then!  It's very similar cases where we have Oculus / Facebook doing their own store within a platform, requiring their hardware to get at their software library, and then Steam being the 'we don't care what hardware you use, just use something!' place.  Kind of Voodoo vs Rendition, etc all over again.

 

Either way, competition is great!  Just wish Atari and Commodore would have stopped competing against each other and tried to target other markets like Wintel systems did, so they could have survived.  Either that, or they needed to be buddies with Bill Gates and get tasty bailout money :P

Leech, do you have a link to the TT article?  Would love to read it

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17 hours ago, ParanoidLittleMan said:

Some notes:

ST and STE have  pretty much well designed video (shifter) , and that it work without slowing down CPU - RAM, MMU are designed in that goal. Looking that it was done in 1985, with relative slow and cheap RAM chips, it was nice achievement, and for sure best price/performance ratio. Some may say: 'only 16 colors' - forgetting what was common then in other home computers, PCs .

Implementing TT video modes in STE ? Just a bad idea. And main problem is not that bigger video RAM would need more CPU power to fill/update.

It would need in higher res, more color modes different way of working, and not possible to maintain not slowing CPU anymore in them. What would be not problem for instance in some adventure, paint program and like. However it would rise price a lot. Atari TT was much more expensive, and if they offered some of it's features in STE, that would lower TT sales for sure - in short, no serious company what would do such thing.

Then, higher res modes would not work on TVs and monitors like SC1224 - and there was already such mode implemented - ST high res, and needed special monitor.

So, people should buy some expensive color monitor for them. And forget their SM one.

 

ST based console ? Completely bad idea ...

Some just forget that ST was big success over 5 years, especially in Europe. It was designed as universal computer, could say as balanced computer - good more less for almost everything.  As real reason for Atari failure around 1992-3 I see slow development, in HW and even slower in SW (TOS), then lack of multi purpose expansion slot - good for RAM, TOS and other upgrades, and not changing with every model (one type in Mega ST, other in TT, another in Falcon ...) . And of course mass production of PC clones, with custom chips.

 

This is why I suggested TT video shifter along with a (minimum) 020 upgrade.  Then again, I believe the early iterations of the TT were with an 020?  To be fair, they did offer some of it's features in the STe, stereo sound and 4096 color palette being the primary ones.  Not sure how the TOS releases were done, but it kind of seems the TT TOS feature set was back ported to work on the 68k systems.

 

To fix the issue of resolutions, just sell the VGA monitors that came with the TT.  I mean it would have been awesome to have an STe mid-range system that had a VGA monitor.  The problem with the ST line is there ISN'T a mid-range system really.  Sure you could upgrade them from 512kb to 4mb (difficulty depending on the model), TT and Falcon of course could go higher, but price / performance wise they were both considered the high end professional systems.

 

Yet the ST(e) had almost the same hardware as the Genesis.  Sure there were several universal things in it, but it was a great games machine.  Fix the limitation of joystick buttons, put it in a stylish case (like the 7800), and fix the limitations on the cartridge port to be more useful and it would have worked out quite well as an early 16/32 bit game console.  The Amiga was designed as such and worked into a computer, why it couldn't have been flipped the other way with the ST.  It would have given Atari a more modern thing than what they basically inherited in the 7800, which the big T sat on for about 2 years...

 

The game console idea could have given them good income, been a great competitor to the Genesis and SNES, and left them with enough of a name in the gaming industry for the Jaguar to have gotten better support.  As it was, when the Jaguar was brand new I literally had people of the younger generation ask me who made it, and I said Atari, and some even asked who that was...

 

There was this huge gap where Atari just simply had nothing to compete with the other gaming consoles, and it was a conscious decision from Jack.

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2 hours ago, calimero said:

Here you can find info about 32bit Atari - before it become TT  https://www.atari-forum.com/viewtopic.php?p=213187#p213187

 

You will find info about Atari EST ... and lot more!

 

btw

I agree with Petari. ST was great for 1985. but they should have made TT sooner. I think that biggest problem was that Shiraz Shivji started work on EST (68020 ST/TT) but when he left Atari Corp., there was some gap/slow down, of development 32bit Atari. Atari hire Roy Good as lead for 32bit Atari but they change goals (move away from TOS to Unix) and thus prolong Atari TT development (e.g. try to make Unix workstation like Sun, Next, HP...). Too bad.

 

Sad since Atari ST bring some of the best DTP, CAD, Vector, Graphics, WordProcessing and Database... software at time :( and more powerful hardware with TOS upgrade would ensure that software continue to be developed for Atari.

The page below shows about the EST, which is where I got the 'why not TT modes + 020' idea from :).  Yeah I think they really needed a low (520+1040ST) to mid (Mega ST or later 520
STe - Mega STe) High (TT030 w/ eventual 040 version).  Or I mean they could have done something like Commodore tried with the A4000 being an 040, then releasing the CR 030 version.

 

I understand the why's of it happening.  Just sucks that they hadn't done it.  I mean yeah looking back at history we can all go 'wtf were they thinking???'  I mean the same could be said of why did they not include the POKEY chip into the 7800.  They most likely had plenty laying around.  I mean when the 7800 was supposed to launch and had the very minimal launch in '84, maybe people were still interested in a new system by Atari that had improved graphics, same sound and the ability to run the 2600 game library?  But then the roll out was halted for two years until the Tramiels seemed to have been like 'well... what else can we sell?' like a year after the ST was out! 

 

Though to be fair, to go back further in time, it seems to me that once Warner Communications bought Atari and changed some of the royalty rules for their programmers / engineers, that was truly the downfall of the company, as from what I've read that's how Activision even came into existence, most of them left to go form their own companies.  And look at how huge Activision is now.  They're big enough to be considered evil.  :P

 

But yeah, as Petari said, taking just the ST without any modifications and stripping off the keyboard and slapping it in a snazzy case would have been a bad idea.  Using the video shifter, PCM sound (AMY if that had been ready), blitter  and maybe a 68010... well you'd have basically a native version of Gauntlet on a home console :)

2 hours ago, Randy said:

Leech, do you have a link to the TT article?  Would love to read it

http://www.atarimuseum.de/tt030.htm listed release dates and such, and that's where I was looking at all of it.

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Ha, now that I'm reading that atariforum post... kind of occurs to me.. did the jump from everyone to try to create a Unix machine do enough financial damage to dunk both Atari and Commodore?  Think of the other Unix distributors during the late 80s / early 90s.  They kind of all died.  Like that's really the one thing they all have in common, from Atari to SGI to Sun.... Granted, Atari and Commodore were in trouble long before Linux really came into it's own and made old style Unix mostly obsolete.

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I don't buy the argument about better video costing more money. If you look at Atari's PC line, they had separate RAM for their built in video card. Shortly thereafter, they had 512K RAM for video. Check out their prices. Atari Corp could've done that with the ST with an improved Shifter that could use its own RAM while also borrowing out from the shared system if/when necessary.

 

Sure, EGA didn't have a 512 color palette but it could do 16 colors onscreen and at higher resolutions than the ST could.

 

The STe should've had a 68010 at the very least, if not a 68020, an FPU socket, and VGA graphics in 1989. And with an MMU that would've allowed it to upgrade to 8MB RAM, not 4MB.

Edited by Lynxpro
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1 hour ago, Lynxpro said:

The STe should've had a 68010 at the very least, if not a 68020, an FPU socket, and VGA graphics in 1989. And with an MMU that would've allowed it to upgrade to 8MB RAM, not 4MB.

The problem for going 68010/68020 is the incompatibility with 68000 related with the error management (different size of data structure for state reporting/restore if I recall correctly) and one instruction becoming privileged access (supervisor only) instead of normal access. They might fear too much incompatibilitiest problem (plus market segmentations plan, "casual" users targeted by STE as drop replacement of STF, "serious" users targeted by mega ste as drop replacement of Mega ST and then TT)

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When Tramiel took over, he missed the opportunity to persist the gorgeous, B&O-inspired aesthetics of the Atari XL line of computers to the ST/TT.

 

It not just looked more beautiful, but more serious and business-oriented. When I bought my 520STFM after owing a 600XL, even though it was so much more powerful, it felt like downgrading to a cheap toy.

 

 

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12 hours ago, Lynxpro said:

I don't buy the argument about better video costing more money. If you look at Atari's PC line, they had separate RAM for their built in video card. Shortly thereafter, they had 512K RAM for video. Check out their prices. Atari Corp could've done that with the ST with an improved Shifter that could use its own RAM while also borrowing out from the shared system if/when necessary.

 

Sure, EGA didn't have a 512 color palette but it could do 16 colors onscreen and at higher resolutions than the ST could.

 

The STe should've had a 68010 at the very least, if not a 68020, an FPU socket, and VGA graphics in 1989. And with an MMU that would've allowed it to upgrade to 8MB RAM, not 4MB.

RAM prices were still high in 1989. Only separate video RAM would raise price for some 100 $ then. Improved shifter and other extra needed,  for another 100 - just a rough judgment.

68010-20-30 have larger stackframe + other differences in compare to 68000, what affect lot of SW (well, if someone knows about it's me - all those game adaptations, making them TT, Falcon compatible - hundreds of hours experience. And I discovered pipeline problem too, not much known). Using 68010 in STE would give minimal benefit, and it is designed for handling so called virtual memory. Sorry, but in computer without expansion bus that is useless. 

MMU 4 MB limit is not big deal, and there were/are different expansions to override it, with faster RAM and other goodies, which would cost a fortune in years around 1990.

 

I think that main problem is that people don't know prices of computer chips in years 1985-1993.  One example:  I bought Trident 8900 ISA video card for my first PC in 1994. 1 MB RAM, could do true color mode (16 M colors, not 64 K like Falcon). However, that mode was very slow - took some 2 seconds to draw 1 screen in  16 M colors. Mostly because slow RAM. Which was faster than RAM in Falcon, btw.  Auuuu - someone sells one for 140 $ on Ebay 🙂  Don't know what was price of it when was new on market, but I guess range 200-300 $ . In 1989 something like it would cost probably about 1 K $ .  And we did not mention (VGA) monitor prices .

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9 hours ago, leech said:

Ha, now that I'm reading that atariforum post... kind of occurs to me.. did the jump from everyone to try to create a Unix machine do enough financial damage to dunk both Atari and Commodore?  Think of the other Unix distributors during the late 80s / early 90s.  They kind of all died.  Like that's really the one thing they all have in common, from Atari to SGI to Sun.... Granted, Atari and Commodore were in trouble long before Linux really came into it's own and made old style Unix mostly obsolete.

Well,

in early 90s you did not have "real" operating system for home/office computers. 

 

For example, all high-end 3D/CAD packages were available only on Workstations with Unix like OS... (Alias, Wavefront, Softimage, Catia...)

 

Home/office operating system like TOS, Amiga OS, Mac OS, Windows 3.x/9x... all lack something. Being that preemptive multitasking or memory protection...

 

I would say that OS/2 was first serious OS for PC (later Windows NT... e.g. Microsoft even bought Softimage to ensure to have some serious Workstation software available for Windows NT).

 

But yes, there was a "mania" to produce Unix workstation in early 90s (including Jobs Next Computer). I remember some computer magazine having Atari TT, Amiga 3000 and maybe Sun on cover page with headline "Which Unix workstation to buy?" (or similar)...

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7 hours ago, Lynxpro said:

I don't buy the argument about better video costing more money. If you look at Atari's PC line, they had separate RAM for their built in video card. Shortly thereafter, they had 512K RAM for video. Check out their prices. Atari Corp could've done that with the ST with an improved Shifter that could use its own RAM while also borrowing out from the shared system if/when necessary.

 

Sure, EGA didn't have a 512 color palette but it could do 16 colors onscreen and at higher resolutions than the ST could.

 

The STe should've had a 68010 at the very least, if not a 68020, an FPU socket, and VGA graphics in 1989. And with an MMU that would've allowed it to upgrade to 8MB RAM, not 4MB.

Separating video RAM would require some real reengineering entire ST. Shifter was designed to work exactly with shared memory.

 

I made a video comparing Atari Falcon with Mac LC (they were similarly priced back in days and Mac LC II have same 16bit bus to RAM like Falcon but Mac LC II have dedicated VRAM.)

 

It is not completely fair comparison since I use Papyrus on Falcon and Microsoft Word on Mac LC II. But nevertheless, Atari Falcon feels much snappier then Mac LC II in 640x480 256 colors.

 

 

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I agree with most of that except this:

On 11/11/2020 at 3:56 PM, ChrisM said:

3) Not getting UNIX out the door for the TT expeditiously and positioning it as a true workstation computer, which the hardware was clearly built and priced for.  Could have made major inroads at universities and companies here.

This is an example of how they were out of their depth.  One of the problems with Tramiel Atari, is they were using a brand known for video games and home computer systems and trying to create products for every segment of the professional market,  and failing in almost all cases.

 

Businesses don't care about "Power without the Price" when making big expenditures,  they care about credibility and support.  They used to say "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM".   So even if they managed to ship Unix,  I don't see them beating the likes of Sun, Digital, etc.  For the same reason their STs/PCs never made much dent in the desktop market.   The brand didn't have the reputation of a serious business vendor.   I know it's a chicken and egg problem for Atari to gain that reputation, but that's what they were up against.

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On 11/11/2020 at 5:02 PM, leech said:

Atari could have released the 7800 in '84 like they were supposed to, then released an ST based console in 87/88 that was very Genesis like in behavior.

The 7800 would have been better timed in 1984,  but in retrospect, I don't think they should have released it at all.   They alienated the early 5200 buyers by cancelling the system after less than 2 years, making it harder to sell new consoles.   Maybe they should have used the Maria/sprite technology in a later console..   imagine an ST-based console with that kind of sprite capability?  Unfortunately they weren't thinking that far ahead, they were struggling to keep the company alive, and then it changed hands.

 

On 11/12/2020 at 3:04 AM, ParanoidLittleMan said:

ST and STE have  pretty much well designed video (shifter) , and that it work without slowing down CPU - RAM, MMU are designed in that goal. Looking that it was done in 1985, with relative slow and cheap RAM chips, it was nice achievement, and for sure best price/performance ratio. Some may say: 'only 16 colors' - forgetting what was common then in other home computers, PCs .

Implementing TT video modes in STE ? Just a bad idea. And main problem is not that bigger video RAM would need more CPU power to fill/update.

16 color was fine for 1985,    but when the STe came out, we were in a post-VGA world where people expected lots of colors placed freely on the screen.   The STe really needed to break that limitation in 89.  I think this was the STe's Achilles-heel in an otherwise great system.  It wouldn't necessarily have needed to do all the modes VGA did, but more colors in the modes ST supported would have been much welcomed, and supported the same monitors.

 

12 hours ago, leech said:

Yet the ST(e) had almost the same hardware as the Genesis.  Sure there were several universal things in it, but it was a great games machine.  Fix the limitation of joystick buttons, put it in a stylish case (like the 7800), and fix the limitations on the cartridge port to be more useful and it would have worked out quite well as an early 16/32 bit game console.  The Amiga was designed as such and worked into a computer, why it couldn't have been flipped the other way with the ST.  It would have given Atari a more modern thing than what they basically inherited in the 7800, which the big T sat on for about 2 years...

 

The game console idea could have given them good income, been a great competitor to the Genesis and SNES, and left them with enough of a name in the gaming industry for the Jaguar to have gotten better support.  As it was, when the Jaguar was brand new I literally had people of the younger generation ask me who made it, and I said Atari, and some even asked who that was...

There are two ways they could have handled an ST-based console.   The 5200 way or the XEgs way.   The 5200 way uses the same base tech, but is not compatible.  They could even add extra hardware to it to boost it's gaming capabilities (like hardware sprites).  This approach would not drag down the credibility of the ST line in a way the XEgs approach might.

 

Atari really needed a 16-bit console.  Their approach of milking the 7800/XEgs until they couldn't any more may have gained them cash in the short term, but cost them credibility as a gaming company long term.  Genesis/SNES were duking it out for the 16-bit crowd and Atari was becomming irrelevant.  By the time they released a 'current' console with Jaguar, it was too late.

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9 minutes ago, zzip said:

Atari really needed a 16-bit console.  Their approach of milking the 7800/XEgs until they couldn't any more may have gained them cash in the short term, but cost them credibility as a gaming company long term.  Genesis/SNES were duking it out for the 16-bit crowd and Atari was becomming irrelevant.  By the time they released a 'current' console with Jaguar, it was too late.

Yeah, this was part of my point, they had a hardware design most of the way there for a 16bit gaming console, and could have carried it along with the Atari name in say '88.  Instead they tried to go the opposite way and become a more serious computing company.  It would be like Toys R Us saying they want to compete with Boeing all of a sudden.  Boeing makes toys for adults, not kids.  😛

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On 11/11/2020 at 1:56 PM, ChrisM said:

 

 

Things I've always thought were critical missed opportunities:

 

1) The whole Amiga rights fiasco.  Would possibly have allowed Atari to step all over Commodore and the Atari/Commodore market wouldn't have been split like it was.

 

 

 

What was this right fiasco ? 

 

Also, while I’m sure he was not the only one, everything seems to point to Jack’s bad decisions. 

 

It is sad— They showed so much potential with the 8-bit but things didn’t work out for Atari. 

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3 hours ago, Blues76 said:

What was this right fiasco ? 

 

Also, while I’m sure he was not the only one, everything seems to point to Jack’s bad decisions. 

 

It is sad— They showed so much potential with the 8-bit but things didn’t work out for Atari. 

The thing about the Amiga was that Atari had lent them a bunch of money for their designs, and Commodore swooped in at the last minute to pay it off and injest Amiga into their ranks.  (At least that is a very basic telling of the story).  In essence, most of the Amiga designers were ex-Atari engineers that if I recall left for the same reasons Activision exists.  Royalties to Warner Communications. 

Actually isn't the story about the very first video game easter egg (the coder's name in Adventure on the 2600) for the very same reason?

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3 minutes ago, leech said:

The thing about the Amiga was that Atari had lent them a bunch of money for their designs, and Commodore swooped in at the last minute to pay it off and injest Amiga into their ranks.  (At least that is a very basic telling of the story).  In essence, most of the Amiga designers were ex-Atari engineers that if I recall left for the same reasons Activision exists.  Royalties to Warner Communications. 

Actually isn't the story about the very first video game easter egg (the coder's name in Adventure on the 2600) for the very same reason?

But do hardware designers even get royalties?   I read that they did not want to be under Jack, who didn't have a great reputation in the industry even then, so that helped motivate them to sell to Commodore.

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7 hours ago, zzip said:

Businesses don't care about "Power without the Price" when making big expenditures,  they care about credibility and support.  They used to say "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM".   So even if they managed to ship Unix,  I don't see them beating the likes of Sun, Digital, etc.  For the same reason their STs/PCs never made much dent in the desktop market.   The brand didn't have the reputation of a serious business vendor.   I know it's a chicken and egg problem for Atari to gain that reputation, but that's what they were up against.

Even Jack Tramiel mentioned this quote in many interviews: "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM".

 

And that mantra brings us into today situation (UBER SHIT situation) -

mantra: "The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armour to lead all his customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the fact that it was he who by peddling second-hand, second-rate technology, led them all into it in the first place."

 

Even Twitter founder said: "‘The Internet Is Broken" ... (this is a stretch!, but in essence peddling second hand, second rate technology bring us in today situation. Solution would be to implement 50 years old Ted Nelson ideas (we will see if Evan W. can comprehend that...)).

 

On topic: if we had to wait for PC (IBM, Intel, Microsoft) we would need to wait many years before we get top notch software: https://www.atari-forum.com/viewtopic.php?t=22856 

Beside: SGI, Sun, HP... and all other companies  (just like Atari and Commodore) FAIL after Microsoft introduced Windows NT (aka VMS for PC). 

Edited by calimero

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6 hours ago, zzip said:

16 color was fine for 1985,    but when the STe came out, we were in a post-VGA world where people expected lots of colors placed freely on the screen.  

 

The STe really needed to break that limitation in 89.  I think this was the STe's Achilles-heel in an otherwise great system.  It wouldn't necessarily have needed to do all the modes VGA did, but more colors in the modes ST supported would have been much welcomed, and supported the same monitors.

STe come out in 1989.

and 1989. was not certainly post-VGA.

VGA start to blossom after 1990. Probably in early 1991. 

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