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Old 11 May 2020, 12:22   #1
jizmo
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What if Commodore and Atari had buried the hatch and worked together?

It’s early 90s.

Atari STE has been out for one year and Atari has not been able to make a dent on the Amiga market. Many have stepped over to Amiga side, but still there’s a dedicated user base who don’t want to give up their Ataris and would rather jump on the PC bandwagon if they had to choose. Amiga is doing well, but users are already looking forward to updated machine that takes the platform ahead of the competition for the next 5 years. Both Atari and Commodore plan their next steps which will result up eventually as Jaguar/Falcon and Amiga 1200/4000/CD32.

Both companies realise they’re battling for roughly the same user base, with consoles getting better performance on the games market, and PC/Mac continuing to triumph in the office space. So it's at this time in the alternative reality that they decide to bury the hatch, join forces and come up with an joint architecture to be used both in the home computer and a console.

What would have come out of it and would've it been any good? Is there any way the two companies could’ve agreed on the design and the name? How about technical aspect of it like operating systems and backwards compatibility both in utilities and games? Both companies would’ve seen the benefit of saving the research, manufacturing and marketing costs, but would either fan base accepted the design and adapted it as their own after being so openly in platform war for years?

What would each party brought to the table for the new computer, and with their most fiercest competitor out of the way, would’ve the two companies come up with top notch platform? Or, see it as an opportunity to settle for something conventional and lukewarm that would've been more disappointing than AGA/Falcon on their own?

Last edited by jizmo; 11 May 2020 at 12:33.
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Old 11 May 2020, 12:25   #2
Pyromania
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GEM was a horrible looking OS. No STE or Falcon band aid would make up for that. The STE should have just been a rebranded A1200.
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Old 11 May 2020, 14:33   #3
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I liked the Falcon, I very nearly got one but the price put me off. I also liked the A1200, but its lack of spec in comparison to the Falcon, but I still got one all the same.

I don't think Atari and Commodore joining forces would necessarily be a bad idea, but the problem was that both companies had different views that I don't think could ever be reconciled.

The majority of what held the Falcon together was off the shelf chips, i.e. if they wanted to release a powerful system, they had virtually no control over the pricing, if they wanted it cheaper, they had to leave stuff out.

Commodore was in a better position having their own chip manufacturing, but they were content to milk as much from the original designs as possible.

It's irritating, because Commodore could have funded development into a newer and much more powerful chipset, and largely the only factor they had no control over was the CPU price and ram price, so they had more options than Atari did.

I think the problem for Atari was they had no real direction, the Falcon would have been better served abandoning the link to the ST/STe series completely, and just being its own machine. Using the same cases was a mistake, linking it to the ST was a mistake, software compatibility with the ST (apart from productivity like music) was a mistake because by the time the Falcon was released, the ST/STe were already dead commercially, so what benefit to running 16 colour games from years ago that took no advantage of the hardware of the Falcon?

Ultimately any merger between the two should have produced a powerful alternative to Apple and a contender for delaying the inevitable rise of x86, but I think both their outlooks to producing solutions were completely different.

Atari couldn't even build and design the Jaguar without outside help.
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Old 11 May 2020, 15:00   #4
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Originally Posted by Pyromania View Post
GEM was a horrible looking OS. No STE or Falcon band aid would make up for that. The STE should have just been a rebranded A1200.
I disagree. The Atari OS is light years ahead of anything available on the Amiga in my opinion.

It's not fair to compare the original GEM from 1985 to what people are running on their Atari's now.
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Old 11 May 2020, 15:08   #5
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It's not so unfair when you consider the OP is talking about the early 1990's, when the reverse was very clearly true.
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Old 11 May 2020, 15:14   #6
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I disagree. The Atari OS is light years ahead of anything available on the Amiga in my opinion.

It's not fair to compare the original GEM from 1985 to what people are running on their Atari's now.
You ARE joking...right?! I don't see the extremely ugly GEM feature anything like pre-emptive multitasking, Intuition, the sheer versatility of Workbench, not to mention other stuff like ARexx and all the unique goodness that came later!

GEM was so awful it didn't even support long file names from the very start, for Christ's sake!
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Old 11 May 2020, 15:36   #7
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What would have come out of it and would've it been any good?
They would have cut anything that made the Amiga and Atari special and unique to save costs. It would have sucked.
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Old 11 May 2020, 16:38   #8
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I think on the sm124 screen gem looked really nice.
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Old 11 May 2020, 18:41   #9
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According to Wikipedia Magix was out in 1992. Full pre emptive multitasking with a reentrant windowing system, cross platform (later) and background disk IO. Not sure which version supported long filenames or shared libs however. Might have been later on. It's now open source and it is very nice indeed. Would be nice to have an Amiga version. It already runs on old macs.

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Old 11 May 2020, 19:07   #10
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Wasn't there a multitasking TOS by then as well? Or am I thinking of something else?
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Old 11 May 2020, 19:17   #11
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Wasn't there a multitasking TOS by then as well? Or am I thinking of something else?
Yes but it had some serious flaws which impacted usability. No background IO and a non reentrant kernel. Any OS call prevented task switching. They were working on improving it with a reentrant AES but it never got out of beta. It did have memory protection and a full unix subsystem though. Magic was much more lightweight and performed like Amiga OS in terms of responsiveness. Very very snappy indeed. It had one really neat feature which carried over to Magic. It had a unified drive with virtual drives/folders for processes. You could open up a gem window and kill tasks by dragging the process to the trashcan. The file size would indicate the memory used.
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Old 11 May 2020, 19:48   #12
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Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT View Post
I liked the Falcon, I very nearly got one but the price put me off. I also liked the A1200, but its lack of spec in comparison to the Falcon, but I still got one all the same.
You weren't the only one; many actually did make the switch, and tried to lure others to join as well.

While I personally was put off by the brand and the recycled case, I did find the inner works of machine really interesting. If more people in the scene had jumped the ship and great products and games would've started to roll out, I might've been tempted to take a closer look at the platform myself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT View Post
I don't think Atari and Commodore joining forces would necessarily be a bad idea, but the problem was that both companies had different views that I don't think could ever be reconciled.
While the tech teams might've worked some nice things together, without someone with the right vision taking the lead in the joint effort, the lack of direction in both companies would've probably cumulated, ending up with tons of delays and overall confusion. The end result might've been something inferior to the AGA range, or the Falcon.

Last edited by jizmo; 11 May 2020 at 20:01.
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Old 11 May 2020, 20:00   #13
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When it comes to the Falcon, I was essentially the victim of the UK Amiga Magazine disinformation campaign

Okay, that might be overstating it a bit... But for years I genuinely believed the machine was basically useless because the Amiga magazine I used to read said so. It was only years later that I saw some of what the machine could actually do. It's quite something, the Atari Falcon. Yes, it would've been better with a 32 bit bus and it was quite expensive (out of my price range at the time even). But ultimately it didn't matter that much - the results speak for themselves.

Besides, it's not like the A1200 chip memory bus was all that great.

Now, I am a Commodore/Amiga dude, so that is where my heart lies. But I have no problems admitting that the Atari Falcon, for all it's problems, was a better machine overall than the A1200. And I say that while loving my A1200 to bits, especially once I got me my Blizzard 1230IV. Best Amiga I've ever owned
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Old 11 May 2020, 22:54   #14
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Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT View Post
software compatibility with the ST (apart from productivity like music) was a mistake because by the time the Falcon was released, the ST/STe were already dead commercially, so what benefit to running 16 colour games from years ago that took no advantage of the hardware of the Falcon?
That’s a bit unfair, some of the ‘Falcon’s’ best games are STE games
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Old 12 May 2020, 00:43   #15
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Before software was released to take advantage of the Falcon it already fell out of the sky and died.

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Old 13 May 2020, 01:58   #16
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I’m not impressed at all.

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Old 13 May 2020, 09:10   #17
redblade
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I think on the sm124 screen gem looked really nice.
Yes, I also think it looks nice, I downloaded a Compute Atari ST Assembler book and have been playing with some of the examples.

But for Mono displays the Mac wins.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT View Post
I liked the Falcon, I very nearly got one but the price put me off. I also liked the A1200, but its lack of spec in comparison to the Falcon, but I still got one all the same.

It's irritating, because Commodore could have funded development into a newer and much more powerful chipset, and largely the only factor they had no control over was the CPU price and ram price, so they had more options than Atari did.
Would you have brought the Falcon if the Wolfenstein 3D shareware was released with it? Do you think that would of tipped a few more people towards the Falcon?

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When it comes to the Falcon, I was essentially the victim of the UK Amiga Magazine disinformation campaign

Okay, that might be overstating it a bit... But for years I genuinely believed the machine was basically useless because the Amiga magazine I used to read said so. It was only years later that I saw some of what the machine could actually do. It's quite something, the Atari Falcon. Yes, it would've been better with a 32 bit bus and it was quite expensive (out of my price range at the time even). But ultimately it didn't matter that much - the results speak for themselves.

Besides, it's not like the A1200 chip memory bus was all that great.

Now, I am a Commodore/Amiga dude, so that is where my heart lies. But I have no problems admitting that the Atari Falcon, for all it's problems, was a better machine overall than the A1200. And I say that while loving my A1200 to bits, especially once I got me my Blizzard 1230IV. Best Amiga I've ever owned
I think one of the Amiga Format magazines answered a letter where they said that the Atari Falcon was better than a standard A1200, but the A1200 had more and better software.
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Old 13 May 2020, 09:11   #18
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At least when Commodore launched new hardware they still had developer support.

I can’t believe Atari were trying to launch a new computer two years after most of the big developers left the ST scene, and most of those never touched the STE hardware, but suddenly they expected them to all jump back on board with a computer costing £200 more than the A1200 with half the ram on the base model.

It was so obviously aimed at the lower end budget market but with a price nudging into the lower end PC market, they would have better given it full 32-bit bus specs, more base ram, faster CPU, full size desktop case and aimed it at the Mac market, DTP, music etc it just ended up being a nothing for nobody machine.
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Old 13 May 2020, 11:18   #19
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Sounds like a recipe for "Worst computer of the 1990's".
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Old 15 May 2020, 17:38   #20
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It's important to remember that the Amiga was the result of the great Atari/Commodore switcheroo. Atari's best engineers went to Amiga (and then Commodore), while Jack Tramiel was forced out of Commodore by Irving Gould and then bought Atari with his sold C= stock money at almost the same time.

Of course then Jack (and then his son) ran Atari partly out of spite (though he did get some of the engineers back in the 90's -- far too late), meanwhile C= fired those same engineers for not wanting to move to Pennsylvania, so...

There was never any chance of them working together as Gould had essentially usurped the company that Tramiel built and that made it personal.

Neither were good at owning a computer company though. Jack was an incredible widget salesman and knew how to sell *devices* well but didn't really understand the computer market, meanwhile Gould was just a stock market trader who knew how to make lots of money for himself by treating corporate stock as casino chips.

EDIT: For instance Tramiel didn't understand the need for compatibility w/enhancement at all. In his eyes, a computer was a product just like a wristwatch or calculator. You bought it for your needs and it didn't matter if it was different as long as it functioned similarly. That's why we got crap like the PLUS/4 (zero compatibility) and the C-128, where any enhancements came for specific use-cases while losing other features in the process.

Meanwhile Gould didn't understand computers at all and just wanted people in charge to figure out how to keep the private jet money flowing as long as possible even if it meant stripping the company to the bone.

Last edited by AmigaHope; 15 May 2020 at 17:48.
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