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The Atari Falcon030

The Atari Falcon was the last Atari personal computer released, but not the last computer system Atari were designing, and still planning to release.

Utilising the powerful Motorola 68030, this Atari system was the most powerful in terms of technology "under the hood".  Although the Atari TT 030 was the fastest in terms of processing speed, the Falcon had a number of unique features that made it a desktop system which wiped the floor with PC's of the day.

The Atari Falcon030 was originally conceived at the Atari Dallas R&D facility.  In its early incarnation, it was test board which was inserted into a standard 1040STE via the PLC holder of the 68000 CPU.  The initial idea was to test the ST with a higher powered processor system which utilised the new Motorola DSP.  A test version of TOS was used named 2.07 (2.06 was the current release in production models), and enabled engineers to access the DSP, FPU and 16MHz 68030.

Atari Sparrow card

The name Falcon was used at Atari under Warner management, as it was the codename for the AtariTel phone system, unfortunately, never released back in 1984.  The Falcon computer released in 1992 was talked about for years before it's launch.  Many rumours about the system had been accurate, although it was never the system it should have been.

FX-1 Badge

The Falcon had been demonstrated to developers in early 1992, and around 150 pre-production models had been made available to European developers by the middle of the same year.  The machine was going to be named FX-1 commercially, and some developer machines displayed this badge.  Atari had processed a number of Trademarks, which included "Sparrow", and this was also used as the name for developer systems at the time. (Other bird names registered as Trademarks included "Owl", "Wren", "Robin" and "Bluebird" - Serial numbers 74147946, 7414909, 7414945, 74147946 US Patent and Trademark Office).

Atari Falcon Launch, 23rd August 1991, Germany

The launch was low-key.  Production was delayed for 6 months at the manufacturing facility in the far-east because engineers thought there was a serious motherboard issue that apparently never surfaced in reality.  When units became available, the only noticeable advertising was obscure and the marketing spend was nominal - it is to be noted that senior management were being told at this time that computer operations were to be "wound down" in order to pull all available company resources into a new gaming system named Jaguar.

It is important to note also, that many in the computer division of Atari were trying to keep the axe from falling on the Falcon project, and the computer division as an entity, unfortunately the writing had been on the wall after Jack Tramiel personally ended the Unix project 30 days after the "official" release date of Unix V was announced in Germany that year (Summer 1992).

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(This issue of RSC announces the official arrival of the Falcon030)

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(The zip file contains all 20 pages of Atari RSC 5.2 in GIF Format)

Before the Falcon 030 was even announced, developers had been expressing interest in Atari's official Falcon announcement, the Falcon 040.  This was the TT's big brother, and it was hoped that Atari would demonstrate the system with the new Unix platform at the Atari Fair in Germany 1991.  To many peoples surprise (and disappointment), Atari demonstrated the Falcon 030 at CeBit in 1992.

The Falcon 040 had been all but completed, and the case design was ready to go.  The Atari Falcon 030 was the only "taste" the public got of the possible 040 product that may have been very close to completion.

Atari Falcon flyer

The Falcon030 had many unique features for a computer system of the day.  Built-in SCSI 2, LAN port (apple-talk protocol/connector), Microphone input, Direct DSP connection, true colour graphics with 3D shaded GUI multi-tasking OS among many advanced features. 


Tos 4.04 Source Page...


Atari Computer had pushed the desktop computer to new heights, but poor marketing and the internal pressure to continue computer manufacturing in the face of MS Windows/PC dominance forced the Falcon to be Atari's last desktop computer towards the end of 1993.  We never saw the Falcon 040, with its 3 X internal sots and sleek new design, although nearing manufacturing readiness with tooling complete, it was the Atari Jaguar that pounced on all future computer plans unfortunately.


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