Atari Jaguar

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The Atari Jaguar is a video game console introduced in 1993 as a powerful next generation platform. Template:TOCleft
Competing with Sega and Nintendo's 16-bit consoles, the Jaguar was said to be 64-bit. Back then, bit width was a big deal in the gaming industry, just as polygon-pushing power is today. The Jaguar did not work off of a solitary 64-bit processor, but instead, it had a collection of processors with bus widths ranging from 16 to 64 bits. The bit width of the Jaguar is still a source of considerable debate today, but consensus exists among those who are familiar with the system hardware that because Jaguar's main data bus and some of the processors are 64-bit, the entire system can be considered 64 bit. It would otherwise be considered a 32-bit console.

The Atari Jaguar

Nonetheless, it was technically superior to the leading 16-bit consoles at the time. Unfortunately, this last ditch effort by Atari for room in the console market failed. A relatively small number of games were developed for the system, and Atari pulled the plug altogether in 1996. The Jaguar was a cult success, however, and many games were created by young independent developers. Jaguar conventions are held to show off rare unfinished Jaguar games that never made it to the shelves. A developer named Songbird still produces games available for sale on the commercial market.

The Atari Jaguar and the Atari Lynx were the last two Atari systems to be developed, but because Atari did not want any direct involvement in hardware production, they were produced by outside contractors. In 1990, Flare Technology, a company formed by Martin Brennan and John Mathieson with Atari funding, said that not only could they make a console far superior to the Sega Genesis or the Super NES, but they could also be cost-effective. Atari immediately agreed, and the system was released in 1993 for a sale price of $250 under a $500 million manufacturing deal with IBM.

The system was marketed under the slogan "Do the Math" (i.e. 32 bit + 32 bit = 64 bit), claiming superiority over competing 16-bit systems. Initially, the system sold well, substantially outselling the highly hyped and publicized 3DO, which was also released during the holiday season of 1993. However, the system was eventually considered a failure, due to a perception of the Jaguar having poor games and an overall lack of software developed. The system was difficult to program for as the hardware had a large number of bugs, including one in the memory controller that stopped some of its processors executing code from the system RAM [1] [2]. The final nail in the coffin was the release of both the Sony PlayStation and the Sega Saturn. In a last ditch effort to rescue the Jaguar, Atari tried to play down these two consoles by claiming the Jaguar was the only 64-bit system, causing some controversy. (Some contended that the Jaguar's two 64-bit "processors" were essentially nothing more than graphics accelerators; its GPU was only 32-bit and its CPU was a 16-bit 68000.) This advertising push was futile, and production of the Jaguar stopped after Atari purchased JT Storage in a reverse takeover.

Several peripherals were announced, such as a voice modem and VR headset, but the only peripherals released were the Atari Jaguar CD drive and the JagLink, a simple two-console networking device. Working prototypes of some of the proposed future developments exist (some, such as the Jaguar Voice Modem, in relatively large quantities), and include fully-functional versions of the VR headset, with infrared head-tracking, and a stereo adaptor to allow connection of the Jaguar to a hi-fi system. See Loki and Konix Multisystem for early development.

After Atari was bought out by Hasbro Interactive in the late 1990s, Hasbro released the encryption coding to the Jaguar, finally opening the doors for enthusiasts and hobby programmers to make their own Jaguar games and software, similar to what has happened with another defunct game system, the Sega Dreamcast. Several game companies including Telegames and Songbird Productions have not only released previously unfinished materials from the Jaguar's past, but also several brand new titles to satisfy the system's cult following.

Screenshot gallery

Technical specifications


  • "Jerry" , 26.6 MHz
    • Digital Signal Processor – 32-bit RISC architecture, 8k internal cache
    • CD-quality sound (16-bit stereo)
      • Number of sound channels limited by software
      • Two DACs (stereo) convert digital data to analog sound signals
      • Full stereo capabilities
    • Wavetable synthesis, FM synthesis, FM Sample synthesis, and AM synthesis
    • A clock control block, incorporating timers, and a UART
    • Joystick control
  • Motorola 68000 (processor #5)
    • General purpose control processor, 13.295 MHz

Other Jaguar features:

See also

Template:Dedicated video game consoles

External links

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