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Old 20 September 2009, 02:27   #1
martyg
 
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Amiga/Atari/Commodore/Tramiel Speech at ECCC

Just a heads up for anyone that might be interested, I'll be giving a speech at the ECCC, I believe it starts around 3:30pm central. The material is based on our latest research regarding the previously muddled claims and relationship between between Atari Inc. and Amiga, Amiga and Commodore, and between Commodore/Amiga and Atari Corp/Tramiel. I'll be giving a glimpse in to our research and setting the record straight on a lot of the issues, as well as covering some material related to the split and sale of Atari Consumer to Jack. By setting the record straight, I.E. most of what's currently repeated regarding the "history" is actually wrong.

http://starbase.globalpc.net/eccc/ for more info...

For those of you overseas that can't make it, it will be covered on retrothing.com
 
Old 20 September 2009, 03:00   #2
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The repeated what? That the engineers that couldn't stand "getting something fast and crap out there that isn't 8-bit" left Atari and formed their own company?

Sorry, it's Saturday night, so I succumbed to some flamebait. :P The below is really nothing for or against you, nor Atari. This is about Amiga. That's why you're holding the speech. Anyway.

Some thoughts tho:
1) One doesn't set things straight 20 years after the fact. Some may think that sounds suspicious, like the wording on the Wikipedia article Anyway, I think you mean perpetrated rumors anyway, and most of those are easily set straight by some googling for the facts.
2) Whatever facts concerning who made what should come from the engineers that made it. Their names are easy enough to verify You might even be on that list - hard to tell on a forum.
3) The father of Amiga is Jay Miner, who formerly did some nice chipsets for the legendary 8-bit Atari consoles. Why he left Atari should be a very interesting story indeed, hope you cover some aspects of that.
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Old 20 September 2009, 03:10   #3
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The repeated what? That the engineers that couldn't stand "getting something fast and crap out there that isn't 8-bit" left Atari and formed their own company?
No, was not referring to that. As the title states, the bulk of the talk will be about the takeover period and the relationship surrounding Atari Inc. and Amiga, Atari Corp, and Commodore etc., the '83 through '85 period. I think you're reading some things in that were not being stated.

Quote:
Some thoughts tho:
1) One doesn't set things straight 20 years after the fact. Some may think that sounds suspicious, like the wording on the Wikipedia article Anyway, I think you mean perpetrated rumors anyway, and most of those are easily set straight by some googling for the facts.
Actually, one does set things straight at any time. This talk is coming out of the recent research regarding the subject for a 2 volume book my partner and have been working on for the last 7 years. Missinformation is missinformation. And no, unfortunately, googling tends to bring up a lot of missinformation surrounding that time period in question.


Quote:
2) Whatever facts concerning who made what should come from the engineers that made it. Their names are easy enough to verify You might even be on that list - hard to tell on a forum.
See above. The bulk of information has come from direct interviews with engineers on both sides, engineering logs on the Atari side, etc. etc.

Quote:
3) The father of Amiga is Jay Miner, who formerly did some nice chipsets for the legendary 8-bit Atari consoles. Why he left Atari should be a very interesting story indeed, hope you cover some aspects of that.
Yes, I'm quite familiar with who Jay Miner is.

And yes, his leaving is quite the irony considering several years later they (Atari Inc., not Atari Corp.) actually would wind up developing several different 68000 based computers - which will also be covered.
 
Old 20 September 2009, 03:55   #4
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Originally Posted by martyg View Post
No, was not referring to that. As the title states, the bulk of the talk will be about the takeover period and the relationship surrounding Atari Inc. and Amiga, Atari Corp, and Commodore etc., the '83 through '85 period. I think you're reading some things in that were not being stated.
Or I was baiting No harm intended, as I said.

If I were exaggerating grossly, "who are you to give historical facts of the industry to the poor guys who got it all wrong".

Now, I'm not like that. But "sell the speech"! Tell us a bit about your history in the industry and previous historical documentation efforts if you will.

And if you say the Internet is full of lies and google brings up misinformation, I couldn't agree more

But not everyone relies solely on internet nor google for finding facts, and some internet junkies actually think about what they read and thus have a filter that lets them use it, and see through some distortions, like the Atarian views on the development of the Amiga (WP article).
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Old 11 October 2009, 05:53   #5
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Or I was baiting No harm intended, as I said.

If I were exaggerating grossly, "who are you to give historical facts of the industry to the poor guys who got it all wrong".

Now, I'm not like that. But "sell the speech"! Tell us a bit about your history in the industry and previous historical documentation efforts if you will.
You can google me (Marty Goldberg) and find out, but besides being a paid professional industry historian for years (you can see some of my work at GameSpy/IGN's classicgaming.com, gamesindustry.biz, interviews for Wired and other mags, etc.) I also contributed to Brian's wonderful Commodore history book (On the Edge), and other authors. I also work in the video game industry as a programmer and tech writer.

Quote:
And if you say the Internet is full of lies and google brings up misinformation, I couldn't agree more

But not everyone relies solely on internet nor google for finding facts, and some internet junkies actually think about what they read and thus have a filter that lets them use it, and see through some distortions, like the Atarian views on the development of the Amiga (WP article).

As stated, I prefer to go by facts - engineering logs, court documents, direct interviews, etc. The speech went well btw, and was well received, a video copy should be going up at retrothing.com. As also previously stated, it was specifically in regards to the whole '83-'85 era and what went on between Atari Inc./Warner, Amiga, Jack/Atari Corp., and Commodore. Specifically targeting the missinformation about that period spread by RJ over the years, etc.
 
Old 11 October 2009, 11:47   #6
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Marty...You should be finding out where the Putty Squad floppy disks are! I'm not sure exactly what will be achieved by this... it's not going to change anything and the audience will be very small for those who find it interesting (i'm not trying to be negative but the Amiga/Atari market is very small these days).

Next week I'll be giving a speach on how Apple marketed their carp products to look better than they actually were
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Old 11 October 2009, 12:00   #7
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So what did you actually talk about? I cant find any coverage of your speech on retrothing.
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Old 11 October 2009, 19:11   #8
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Paul - actually you'd be surprised, the audience is pretty large. There's a reason Brian's book went in to several editions and books on retro computing and gaming sell well. Retro gaming/computing is actually a fairly good sized market in the industry, both in product and historical interest. Especially for Atari related material.

T-hairy-boston - I had said video coverage was going to be put up there, didn't say it was up yet. The speech wound up being over an hour and is still being edited. As far as what I actually talked about, it was a three part timeline regarding what was going on at Atari Inc. during that timeframe ('83 through '84) and their relation to Amiga during that timeframe, what Jack/TTL did after leaving Commodore, and how everything converged together during the summer of '84.

Some points of past missinformation I specifcally addressed:

1) The deal between Amiga and Atari was with Warner Atari Inc., not with Jack's later Atari Corp. Jack never lent money as is often claimed, or offered a 98 cent stock purchase. Amiga began talks with Warner Communications during the fall of '83, agreed to a partnership at the January '84 CES, and had entered in to contract with Atari Inc. in early March of '84 with a $500,000 bridge loan, another million to be delivered at the signing of the licensing agreement that June, and an agreement for Atari Inc. to purchase 1 million shares at $3 a share, as well as payments for chip and later royalties on licensing. Development went across the entire spring on the project (named Mickey) all the way up to the pcb's being ordered and the team just waiting for the chips to be delivered.

2) There was no "pay back the loan or Atari gets the company" or pay back within a month, etc. The bridge loan was simply that - an initial payment as a signing bonus to help them with sorely needed seed money. It was given in early March. The reality is Amiga found they simply needed more money, didn't feel they were going to get enough through the Atari deal, so they actively began looking for more investors and a way out of the contract towards the end of Spring. Along came Commodore, they began meetings in early June, agreed to invest around $75 million, and gave them the $500,000 to pay back the bridge loan which they did at the end of June, lying and stating they couldn't get the chips to work and signing with Commodore the very same day.

3) The ST was never going to be based around Amiga techology, nor was it rushed to the market because of a lost deal. Jack knew nothing about the previous Wartner/Atari Inc./Amiga deal when he bought Atari Consumer on July 3rd., simply for it's manufacturing, distribution, and brand recognition. In fact there was a whole slew of 68000 and other advanced systems in development at Atari Inc. (which I also covered) that he was not interested in. Some of the Mickey team that wound up surviving the cuts and stayed on in other capacities even tried to broach the subject of the advanced projects with him and he wasn't interested. He already had the ST planned out and using the NS32032. In the mean time Commodore filed theft of property and trade secrets suits against Shiraz and the other engineers that had left for Jack in May, almost immediately after Jack announced the purchase of Atari Consumer. This included a temporary injunction against them doing any work for Jack on a new computer, which Commodore renewed several times over July. Towards the end of July while doing evaluations, Jack's son Leonard discovered the cashed $500,000 check (which I also showed), they investigated and found out about the previous deal. Like a gift horse they had Warner sign over the deal to him (it was not part of the original purchase) on Aug. 8th, and used it to hit Commodore back on Aug. 10th by going after Amiga for breach of contract (which they did). It was eventually settled out of court, and the suits against Shiraz et. al. were settled the following year. They switched to the 68000 in the interim because of supply issues with National, and wire wrapping for the ST (actually called RBP) began in early August and was completed by the beginning of Sept., with OS development starting then. The reason development was fast was because Commodore's initial suit had merit - Shiraz had mapped out a lot of it while still at Commodore that March and April and completed it that May and June (along with a line of new 8-bits being planned).
 
Old 11 October 2009, 19:42   #9
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Most interesting...
Not a version of the 'events' that I've heard before - thanks for that.
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Old 11 October 2009, 20:23   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martyg View Post
Some points of past missinformation I specifcally addressed:
So what you're basically saying is that all the people at Amiga, including Dave Morse, Jay Miner, RJ Mical and other engineers, just lied and invented from scratch the infamous negotiations with atari and Tramiel (which is reported on a number of interviews and on the book "On the Edge" which you contributed to)?!

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Originally Posted by martyg View Post
Atari Gaming Headquarters
www.atarihq.com
Ok, maybe I understand now...
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Old 11 October 2009, 21:02   #11
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So what you're basically saying is that all the people at Amiga, including Dave Morse, Jay Miner, RJ Mical and other engineers, just lied and invented from scratch the infamous negotiations with atari and Tramiel (which is reported on a number of interviews and on the book "On the Edge" which you contributed to)?!
You might want to re-read the book, what's reported in Brian's book is an earlier visit by Jack that Spring while he was visiting numerous companies in Silicon Valley looking for technologies, under his TTL (Tramel Technology LTD.) Amiga was one of many companies he met with, and that's where the origin of that other story came from. They met for about a week and negotiations went nowhere, Jack basically wanted their technology and not them. Both went their seperate ways. It was not under Atari, and it had nothing to do with any of the agreements, and he had no clue about their dealings with Atari Inc. at the time.

And yes, RJ is more interested in giving stories rather than facts. He's stated that in several of his appearances over the years in fact. And he's the primary source of most of the material being quoted out there, including the whole stock thing - which is amazing considering he wasn't directly involved in any of the business dealings.

Quote:
Ok, maybe I understand now...
You can falsely imply anything you like. However as previously stated, this material is verbatim from the original contracts, court testimony, engineering logs, of which my partner and I all have copies of. That also included direct interviews with people from the Mickey team (lot of interesting stories from them as well about a lot of the information, protos, etc. walking out with them and others after Jack took over Atari Consumer, because they didn't want it to fall in the hands of Jack once he took over, only to discover he could care less about them anyways).

Here's a copy of the original ageement from when Amiga first approached Atari Inc. in '83 for instance, that's actually been up at Amiga related sites for some time now - I'm surprised if you hadn't seen it, my partner released it several years ago:

http://www.amigahistory.co.uk/mickey.html

This was of course before Jack even left Commodore. You can compare and contrast that to RJ's claim for instance, that Atari all of a sudden appoached Amiga after the January CES appearance. Likewise the full arrangement of money, stock purchases, etc. were reported by the Wall Street Journal at the time as well and easily verifiable by anyone. Once again, any and all arrangements and agreements were with Warner/Atari Inc., not Jack and his later Atari Corp.

We undertook this whole process precisely because there was so much "he said/they said" over the years, we wanted to track down the actual materials from the time to get concrete answers. It took a lot of time and money, but was accomplished - and not out of some supposed "spite" as you're implying. And frankly I resent that implication.

Last edited by martyg; 11 October 2009 at 21:31.
 
Old 11 October 2009, 21:41   #12
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The one person who truly understood the dealings was Dave Morse who stayed quiet for the most part. What you get is RJ Mical who had nothing to do with the situation to be the storyteller so to speak. He even admits on the audio/video interview in the beginning "If I have to choose between the truth and telling a good story - I prefer to tell a good story" So he even admits that what he's telling is not true. Jay Miner essentially regurgitates most of RJ Mical's recollections and the misinformation train moves on its merry way.

Unraveling and revealing the full truth to this myth as well as several other Atari myths, rumors and folklore has been a project of mine for many years and with Marty's help I went full bore into this subject and at long last we've uncovered the pay dirt that is the real truth.

We will be compiling together much of this for presentation, including Dave Morse' court testimony on the stand about how he worked behind Atari's backs to get out of the March 6, 1984 contract and not complete the Licensing signing and in crazed desperation was trying to get Commodore to go into a deal with Amiga and deliver $500,000 plus interest to pay Atari back its advance of the $3.5 million license signing and milestone payments for each chip delivered.

So I think I'll take Dave Morse's under oath testimony over RJ Mical's (I'd rather tell a good story then the truth) slant on Atari-Amiga history.


Marty -- Btw on June 28th 1984 it was agreed that Commodore would pay an upfront payment to Amiga of $750,000. Of which on June 29, 1984 David Morse hand delivered to Atari's HQ at 1265 Borregas a check for the $500,000 plus 120% interest on the advance from Mar 6-June 29 84.


Curt


Quote:
Originally Posted by lucadip View Post
So what you're basically saying is that all the people at Amiga, including Dave Morse, Jay Miner, RJ Mical and other engineers, just lied and invented from scratch the infamous negotiations with atari and Tramiel (which is reported on a number of interviews and on the book "On the Edge" which you contributed to)?!


Ok, maybe I understand now...
 
Old 11 October 2009, 21:48   #13
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That's a key issue - this is not a spite thing, so take that off the table, this is about history - correct history and nothing more.

You can ask Nolan Bushnell - he is not too terribly fond of me because on many occassions I've torn down and corrected much of the distorted history and credits he's received over the decades which were not his. I'm also a good friend of Ralph Baer of Sanders/Magnavox legend and who is the true "father of home video games" and while yes I am an Atari guy, I don't wear Atari-colored glasses. My interest is in preserving correct and factual history and when that history overlaps into the Atari arena, I'm going to get involved.


Curt
 
Old 11 October 2009, 22:24   #14
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Originally Posted by atarimuseum View Post
...Jay Miner essentially regurgitates most of RJ Mical's recollections and the misinformation train moves on its merry way.
Funny enough, both Miner and Morse are no longer among us and cannot reply.

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...I am an Atari guy, I don't wear Atari-colored glasses...
Suuuure.
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Old 11 October 2009, 22:37   #15
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Originally Posted by atarimuseum View Post
The one person who truly understood the dealings was Dave Morse who stayed quiet for the most part. What you get is RJ Mical who had nothing to do with the situation to be the storyteller so to speak. He even admits on the audio/video interview in the beginning "If I have to choose between the truth and telling a good story - I prefer to tell a good story" So he even admits that what he's telling is not true. Jay Miner essentially regurgitates most of RJ Mical's recollections and the misinformation train moves on its merry way.

Unraveling and revealing the full truth to this myth as well as several other Atari myths, rumors and folklore has been a project of mine for many years and with Marty's help I went full bore into this subject and at long last we've uncovered the pay dirt that is the real truth.

We will be compiling together much of this for presentation, including Dave Morse' court testimony on the stand about how he worked behind Atari's backs to get out of the March 6, 1984 contract and not complete the Licensing signing and in crazed desperation was trying to get Commodore to go into a deal with Amiga and deliver $500,000 plus interest to pay Atari back its advance of the $3.5 million license signing and milestone payments for each chip delivered.

So I think I'll take Dave Morse's under oath testimony over RJ Mical's (I'd rather tell a good story then the truth) slant on Atari-Amiga history.


Marty -- Btw on June 28th 1984 it was agreed that Commodore would pay an upfront payment to Amiga of $750,000. Of which on June 29, 1984 David Morse hand delivered to Atari's HQ at 1265 Borregas a check for the $500,000 plus 120% interest on the advance from Mar 6-June 29 84.


Curt
Sounds like something out of Columbo!

Ah well, will be interesting reading I'm sure.

Just one more thing...
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Old 11 October 2009, 23:48   #16
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Funny enough, both Miner and Morse are no longer among us and cannot reply.
Another melodramatic accusation meant to imply some sort of underhandedness. Relpy against what? His own sworn court testimony? As Curt stated, that's exactly what we used for Morse, so yes "he" is having his say.
 
Old 12 October 2009, 00:33   #17
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@martyg: ignore the light hearted jibes and present your information. Many of us are interested.
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Old 12 October 2009, 00:54   #18
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Any further information about this matter only serves to prove one thing: Jack Tramiel was far from the business 'giant' people pictured him as.

That he didn't know about the deal with Atari and Amiga Inc before he took over is shambolic.

That he met with Amiga Inc, realised the worth of their technology, but still pressed ahead with the ST in its released form is breathtaking stupidity.

The Atari XL series were in many ways technically superior to the ST, and that Tramiel made no attempt to build upon that series, or even court Amiga Inc properly given that some of Amiga Inc were responsible for the XL series, again demonstrates he didn't have the first clue what he was doing.

He thought he could trade on the Atari name alone, and neglected the hardware.

He ignored sound advice from those around him that actually had a clue.

The ST should have been the equal or near equal of the Amiga, Tramiels ignorance and arrogance ensured that was never the case.
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Old 12 October 2009, 02:03   #19
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@martyg: ignore the light hearted jibes and present your information. Many of us are interested.
Appreciate hearing that. As Curt mentioned, this is all part of a much larger project we've been working on and as of late have simply been focusing on this specific issue. We've gone through the same process with other happenings as well (such as tracking down Atari co-founder Ted Dabney to get the scoop on who actually did what for the creation of Computer Space, and clear up a lot of the PR legend that Nolan sprouted over the years, etc. etc.) In all research, we go out of our way to actually find original documents, logs, in the case of legal issues we get copies of the court documents, etc. Interviews with people are good as well, but people's memories of what happened years before are not always the greatest - for instance even Ralph Baer tends to run some details about his own products together, as well as court cases, meetings, etc. For interviews, we try and go by as broad a range of people as possible, tempered with the actual concrete documentation that we'd rather rely on.
 
Old 12 October 2009, 02:12   #20
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Oh you're going to see far more of that then you think...

During the course of this investigation we've turned up that within Atari's own "Advanced Engineering Division" they had a dual 68000 based graphics workstation, a 32016 powered system with custom graphics/sound processors and then took that design and moved it over to a 68000 powered design. When Tramiel came into Atari, the AED teams tried to explain that they had systems ready to go, Tramiel didn't want to hear about them. When they explained that they already went through issues with National Semiconductor and there were known bugs in the 320xx processors and that NS couldn't produce sufficient quantities - Tramiel still forged ahead with the ST (aka - RBP "Rock Bottom Price" ) design under a 32032 powered processor until only by directly himself and Shiraz realizing that what had been said was in fact true - did they move to a 68000 based processor.


Curt


Quote:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT View Post
Any further information about this matter only serves to prove one thing: Jack Tramiel was far from the business 'giant' people pictured him as.

That he didn't know about the deal with Atari and Amiga Inc before he took over is shambolic.

That he met with Amiga Inc, realised the worth of their technology, but still pressed ahead with the ST in its released form is breathtaking stupidity.

The Atari XL series were in many ways technically superior to the ST, and that Tramiel made no attempt to build upon that series, or even court Amiga Inc properly given that some of Amiga Inc were responsible for the XL series, again demonstrates he didn't have the first clue what he was doing.

He thought he could trade on the Atari name alone, and neglected the hardware.

He ignored sound advice from those around him that actually had a clue.

The ST should have been the equal or near equal of the Amiga, Tramiels ignorance and arrogance ensured that was never the case.
 
 


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