- The Atari Jaguar was Atari Corps. last official product. It was
the culmination of years of work behind the scenes at Atari - work which
not only included the purchase of technology from Flair, a UK based
technology company, but tough re-structuring of Atari world-wide.
If Atari was to survive into the 21st century, this product had to pave
the way for it to do so, and unfortunately, it did not. The
Jaguar was also the death-knell of Atari's Computer division - Mass
produced PC's from new direct companies such as Dell and Gateway were
becoming more and more affordable, even Apple were feeling the pinch of
the Windows operating system - Atari did not have a large enough user
base to carry on making TOS based computers and having already tried
it's hand at PC's, Atari didn't have the capital or expertise to
re-enter that market.
market Atari did know however, was the gaming market. It had the
made-to-measure brand name to re-enter the console market, and if
executed properly and smartly, Atari would become a household name once
Jaguar wasn't the first console Atari R&D had been toying with, in fact,
Jaguar was been developed in parallel with a 16/32 Bit Console codenamed
Panther. 1992 - Leaks about Panther had been around for
months, some early rumours mentioned it was even based on existing STE
technology - suggestions in the press said it was to be "an STE with a
cartridge slot". Panther was a real project, being developed in
Dallas (U.S.) and Cambridge (UK) and it was supposed to be close to
completion - this Nintendo Killer, as Sam Tramiel liked quoting only too
often, was shelved because development on Jaguar, Atari's 64-Bit system,
was well ahead of schedule. Panther utilised a 12Mhz MC6800 and
could produce 4,096 colours on screen from a palette of 16 Million;
sound was produced by four 8-bit sound channels.
Jaguar was being quoted everywhere, and if this was deliberate on
Atari's behalf, it certainly excited everybody - after all, this was the
newest console from Atari since the XEGS back in 1987.
So it became clear as
the months went by and restructuring continued, such as the closure of
more European offices and the sale of Atari's Taiwan Facility, that
Atari were betting heavily on entering back into the video console
market - and the noises, as Jaguars specifications started to leak, were
that this cat could be a killer system.
the launch of the ST had I witnessed as much gossip and press for
Atari's new machine - there was genuine interest in Atari, the share
price was approaching $5.00 after a lengthy depression, and all the
time, magazines looked forward to reviewing the new 64-bit system.
Atari began issuing official press announcements, such as the OEM
agreement with IBM. This was the OEM contract for IBM to source components, build, assemble, and box
the new Jaguar console for Atari. The Atari share price "ATC"
reached $12.00 on the announcement, it seemed Atari was, after-all,
getting things right with the Jaguar.