The Atari TT was launched in 1990. Atari wanted
to use the TT as an assault on the DTP and Workstation market segment, and companies such
as NASA purchased the machines. Atari missed a unique opportunity in the DTP arena
back in the mid to late eighties with the Mega range of computers - The Atari TT was
another (actually the last) chance for Atari to give that campaign another chance.
In an effort to change the perception of Atari as a
"games company in the U.S. market that just happens to sell a few computers as
well", Atari needed to bring the American public back on it's side and prove it would
properly service their home market. Europe was where Atari sold more than 75% of it's
computer products, many American dealers and users were always second to Europe in product
launch and availability.
Unfortunately, Atari began by previewing the TT in
Hanover, Germany., Atari's biggest single market in Europe. Selling well in Europe,
especially to DTP houses and colleges in Germany, the US would not see it's launch until
nearly a year later. Today, no major PC manufacturer could do the same and launch a
PC product in Germany and wait a year to launch in their home territory!
The launch was much
anticipated by all serious Atari
users, and due to the nature of the PC business Ten years ago, i.e. Wintel machines
weren't all dominant as they are today, the major computer press also covered the launch
of the machine.
This was a serious contender at launch, especially to
Apple, who's equivalent 68030 system was 2 and a half times as expensive with less
features! There were many in Atari that were close to the TT project, and some
senior management who really wanted resources spent in the business segment. Atari
had a window to really push their new computer in areas it excelled in, like no other
computer could match on the market at the time.
Atari spent a lot of time and resources preparing
the TT for a business push. There was a separate team at Atari putting together the
Unix implementation for the TT, nearly a year late after it was initially announced, it
received a very low-key launch, limited supplies were available, and shortly after, the
team responsible for Unix were disbanded by Atari U.S. as the computer division was being
slowly wound sown.
Unfortunately, the TT wasn't
marketed in any real way, and I only ever remember seeing one
advertisement for the TT, which I read in 1991 in a Toronto (Canada)
newspaper. If you have any other TT ads, please let AEX know!
The TT was a beautiful machine, and they are still
a prized possession today - by the end of 1992 however, TT production had ended (apart
from a small re-run for Jaguar development in 1993) and Atari were already planning an
exit from the computer market - Microsoft and IBM PC clones were on the march, ending the
exciting pioneering technology of the Atari Computers Systems division.