- So what happened, the Jaguar was a good product wasn't
it? The company had sunk cash into advertising
right? You could argue that Atari did everything
right with the Jaguar, learning from past mistakes and
making a determined bid to put all of its resources behind
their product. This is no exaggeration, as Atari
killed every other product in development to ensure minds
were focused on the Jaguar product.
hadn't foreseen the emergence of Sony into the gaming
arena, and even before Sony had launched their
"Playstation", developers were being courted by the deep
pockets of the consumer giant. True, the Playstation
was still "vapourware" while the Jaguar was a real product
available to the consumer, but Sony had begun selling
their new machine long before it hit the shops. But
Playstation was only one factor that dogged Atari's
Jaguar, because Atari were trying compete against a wide
range of platforms from Sega, Nintendo and 3DO, and if
that wasn't enough it seemed that the jump from 16-Bit to
the 64-Bit Jaguar wasn't making life easy for the
developers who were trying to get to grips with the new
This jump in performance meant
that the lead-time for new software was taking longer than
even Atari had anticipated, it was also costing the
developers more money, and the Jaguar needed good software
to survive. With over 100 developers signed up to
the Jaguar platform, it was expected that the Jaguar
couldn't fail with this type of industry support, but
while a few high profile developers took the plunge, the
majority held back and waited to see the sales figures.
Initially, the Jaguar sold like hot cakes, but rumours
about the new Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn and Sony
Playstation held potential buyers back from parting with
their money, and the developers in the meantime weren't
going to back the Atari horse, until they saw the other
Fate had worked against Atari,
if it had been a year earlier with the Jaguar, perhaps it
could have had that vital head start to aid software
development, and perhaps, Atari could have weathered the
storm and kept some of the developers on board with what
could have been a much larger installed user base.
Of course, what actually happened is Sony and Sega stole
the show, and the Jaguar was left on the shelves, for
those within the company, the writing for the system was
on the wall in 1995 because Atari couldn't compete on even
terms with the might of Sony and Sega.
This was the year Sam Tramiel
had a heart attack, and perhaps this unfortunate turn of
events was the final screw in the coffin for the Jaguar,
because Jack came back and took over the running of Atari
while his son
recuperated. Sam was passionate about the Jaguar,
and was major force behind the product, but the entire
project had taken its toll and Jack most probably and
sensibly had the health of his son on his mind. It
wouldn't have taken a rocket scientist to figure out that
no amount of money could have saved the Jaguar in 1995.
Atari had money in the bank,
approx $50 Million, most of this from investments made in
1994 when Atari had won $90 Million from Sega in an out of
court settlement, and Time Warner had invested $12.8
Million in the company. But in little less than a
year Atari had spent over $50 Million trying to support a
dying platform and Jack saw that the company's liquid
assets were dwindling fast. Another year of Jaguar
support, and Atari could be bankrupt, especially when the
Jaguar was failing to sell in any significant numbers.
Although Sam was back at work towards the end of 1995,
Jack had already began to downsize the Jaguar project.
With reports in the press
commonplace, Atari were obviously downsizing the company,
but to what end, nobody really knew. Some speculated
that Atari may just leave the game business and
concentrate on software, as the
Atari Interactive brand
launched, it seemed a good move. Then, in 1996 as
more employees were fired, and internal software
development was axed, it seemed Atari may do what many
feared, and exit the business for good. Of course,
Atari was still trading on Wall Street, so those rumours
were laughed off officially by the company, but behind the
scenes, Atari were looking for the nearest exit.
When the rental agreement on the Atari HQ expired in March
1996, Atari moved to smaller offices with an even smaller
contingent of employees.
Atari were looking to buy
themselves out of the video game business in some form or
other, and talks began with a number of companies.
Eventually, Atari merged with JTS, a start-up disk drive
manufacturer, with $50 Million of Atari money.
Support for Jaguar and continuation of the Atari brand was
assured to share holders - this never happened, and only 3
more titles trickled out of Atari, and all Jaguar stock
Key Dates ::
31, 1996, Atari Corp. became a JTS subsidiary.
JTS Corp., with
headquarters in San Jose, Calif., was founded in 1994 to
design, manufacture and supply enhanced-capacity hard disk
drives for the notebook and desktop personal computer
On February 23, 1998, JTS
sold its Atari Division to HIACXI Corp., a wholly-owned
subsidiary of Hasbro Interactive, Inc., which is a
subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., for $5 million in cash.
JTS filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection on
December 11, 1998, and then
converted it to Chapter 7 on
February 28, 1999.
Hasbro Interactive began releasing many Atari branded
titles from the vast back catalogue of Atari games for the PC and Playstation, and
in a gesture to the Atari Jaguar community, also released the Jaguar system into the public domain after much pressure from the loyal
Jaguar user base. 3rd party software development is now taking place since this
notice from Hasbro.
Hasbro sold many of its
property rights, including those of Atari to Infogrames, a French
software development company on
December 6th 2000.
Was this really the end of the road for one of the most recognised
brands in the world?
Infogrames changed its trading name to "Atari" worldwide (as AEX
predicted in 2001 when we broke the news!). The Atari "Fuji" logo
still hasn't faded away into history, and with the Infogrames new
identity, Atari is once more in the public eye... but unfortunately,
only as a pale imitation of its former self...
© 1997-2003 Atari Time
Machine/Atari Explorer - All trademarks acknowledged.