Posted By azog on June 19, 2012
The Atari Falcon030 was Atari’s last computer, and arguably their finest. It was released in 1992, but cancelled in 1993, when Atari was in the midst of their death throes and cancelled everything to focus on the Jaguar game console.
It was Atari’s second 68030-class computer, the TT030 having been released in 1990. But the TT didn’t appear to be an upgrade path for ST users, as it was more geared towards business use, and it was also not very compatible with ST software, either. The “TT” simply means “thirty-two/thirty-two” referring to the buss width, in the same way that the ST name meant “sixteen/thirty-two”.
The TT (and the MegaSTE, in 1991) had a detached keyboard, giving a much more professional appearance. Both the TT and MegaSTE also had a VME slot and used (30 pin) SIMM memory modules.
In my opening paragraph, I say the Falcon was arguably their finest computer, because the Falcon is an ST-class computer, meaning they shoved a 32-bit processor onto a 16 bit buss. It was also a return to the classic wedge shape of the earlier ST computers. These weren’t the only sacrifices the Falcon was to endure, losing both the VME buss as well as the SIMM sockets.
I had a Falcon back in the day, but like many things over the years, I have no idea what happened to it. It was either given away, recycled, or just simply went MIA. So when I had the chance to acquire another one, I couldn’t pass it up.
This is part of a larger, longer term project, so I’ll break this up into separate posts. I originally made one jumbo post, but it was just too long.
First, let’s take a quick look at the Falcon. On the left side are the MIDI ports, the cartridge port, and the “enhanced joystick ports”.
The MIDI ports are kinda what sets the ST apart from other period machines. No other contemporary computer provided MIDI as standard hardware, and this made the Atari ST popular with musicians. One of Tangerine Dream’s albums even credits the Atari ST in the liner notes.
The rear, from left to right: the DSP expansion port, audio in and out, SCSI-II, video; RF switch and modulator, parallel and serial ports, and finally LocalTalk LAN.
The DSP, a Motorola DSP56000, was another distinct feature of the Falcon. The only computer I can think that would even be possibly close was the Amiga, but I’m not familiar enough with the Amiga to compare the Amiga chipset with the DSP56001.
The LocalTalk LAN port was useless. I don’t think any software was ever developed for it. The rest of the ports are fairly self-explanatory.
When I received the machine, it had the original 60mb drive, 4mb of RAM, TOS 4.01 and a dead real-time clock.
Dunno how visible that is, but it’s the factory configuration. Since it’s got the same config as stamped on the factory sticker, I see no reason to consider that it was ever upgraded.
I’ll address these issues, and a few other things in subsequent posts. As if anyone would be interested…