Atari Jaguar Another excellent product that was mismanaged and never taken to it's full potential. It was the worlds first 64-bit game system and it's graphics and sound were better than anything else out at the time of it's release in December 1993. One could even add a CD-ROM to it and network them together. The secret to it's capabilities were a number of custom coprocessors, which made the machine quite flexible, though unfortunately also made it more complicated to program than other machines. Unfortunately, few 3rd party developers released items for the system, and few of the items Atari had on the drawing board for the system actually made it to market. it soon faded away, to be overtaken by newer 64-bit systems, retailers liquidating their stock of the machines at bargain-basement prices. An interesting side note is that the Jaguar was actually manufactured for Atari by IBM, though IBM didn't have a hand in it's actual design. The custom chipset was built by Toshiba and Motorolla. The Jaguar CD was released in September 1995.

The Jaguar's hardware features included (As taken from the Jaguar FAQ):

  • Two custom chips containing the coprocessors, named 'Tom' & 'Jerry', totalling over 1,350,000 transistors and running at 26Mhz.
  • 16-bit stereo sound.
  • High-speed 64-bit data bus rated at 106.364 megabytes/second.
  • Two megabytes of fast page-mode DRAM.
  • Game cartridges support up to six megabytes of information.
  • Programmable screen resolution.
  • 24-bit 'True color' display with 16,777,216 simultaneous colors with an additional 8-bits of supplimental graphics data possible.
  • Multiple-resolution, multiple-color depth objects usable simultaneously.
  • Supports NTSC, PAL, S-Video, Composite, and RGB output.
  • Networking of up to 32 Jaguar's possible.
  • Two controller ports, supporting digital and analog interfaces.
  • Digital Signal Processor port.

    Time-Warner also licensed the Jaguar architecture for use in arcade games. These games added more memory, hard disks, and other changes. Two of these games were released:

  • Area 51: light-gun shooting game for two players. Used a 68020 or SGI R3K at 25Mhz, 4 megabytes RAM, and a one gigabyte hard drive.

  • Maximum Force: light-gun shooting game. Used a SGI R3K, six megabytes of RAM, and a two gigabyte hard drive.

    Atari was bought out by disk drive manufacturer JTS Corp. on July 30, 1996, and production of it's computers stopped. On February 23, 1998 JTS sold it's Atari division to Hasbro Inc. for $5 million, forming Atari Interactive Inc. Atari Games, the coin-op division which remained seperate from Atari Corp. and was later known as Time-Warner Interactive, became a subsidiary of Midway Games Inc.

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