This fascinating 'might-have-been' ultimate Atari was spotted on sale in
Ebay. At time of ripping and rearranging this text (erm!) It was on a
reserve of 6 UKP(!)I would think that interest would pick up, and prices
too, for such a rare machine from the machine collectors and general Fuji-
heads out there. Now has anyone mentioned the Microbox Falcon prototypes
The blurb that was the Ebay ad was kind of interesting, providing lots of
system spec information that I don't recall seeing a lot of, even when the
thing was new. Come to think, apart from one Atari show, I don't remember
seeing a lot of it in the real world, eighty grand being a little bit out of
our immediate price range and all...
So I thought I'd share the blurb with you. Anyone from the (Mythical?) Atari
Transputer User Group who feels like adding to this, or sharing their high-
level hardware anecdotes with us, feel free to write in to the usual
Firstly, here's the picture that came with the Ebay advert. Interesting to
see how much of the ST 'externals'that Atari decided to keep.
And look, it still uses an Atari Mouse!
SEEN ON EBAY!
Complete Atari Transputer Workstation including Atari keyboard, Atari mouse,
startup disk, and monitor if desired. In full working order - monitor is
LOW RESERVE! The original price in 1989 was 80,000ukp! (Ed-gasp!)
This item is very heavy so posting will be very expensive. Collection may be
an easier option. Please consider this when bidding. We are located in
Cambridge, United Kingdom.
If further information or photos are desired please contact us.
Processor: Main processor T800-20 can perform 10 million instructions per
second (MIP), has 4K on chip RAM and a floating point arithmetic processor.
A 68000 (8Mhz) processor relieves the T800-20 of all I/O tasks to be
performed. The 68000 I/O subsystem is connected to the T800 via a
transputer link, communicating at 20Mhz.
Memory:- The T800 has access to 4 Megabytes of fast dynamic RAM (120ns),
which can be expanded internally to 16 Megabytes (and eventually up to 64).
The 68000 I/O subsystem is supported by 512K RAM, which can be expanded up
Video Memory:- 1 Megabyte of fast dual port dynamic RAM (100 nS), ports
connnected to both main bus and video bus.
I/O:- All I/O is the responsibility of the 68000 I/O subsystem. This
subsystem is based upon the Atari Mega ST specification and is able to
function independent of the host T800 main system. The following I/O is
supported via the 68000 I/O subsystem.
RS232, DMA, Parallel Port, Midi ports, Floppy Disks (3.5 or 5.25), SCSI,
Mouse or Joystick port.
All standard Atari ST range peripherals can be connected. The 68000 I/O
subsystem will be capable of supporting its own RGB or composite monitor
independent of the main system monitor.
Storage:-The ATW will be supplied with a 40 Megabyte SCSI hard disk.
Additional or higher capacity drives will be available as options.
Video:- The graphics processor (called "Blossom") relieves the T800 of memory
refresh and data transformation between address spaces. The graphics
processor is capable of addressing the entire user RAM area in addition to
the video RAM.
Additional graphic processor specifications: Functions designed specifically
with Xwindows in mind: 32 x 32 pixel mask. 16 bit wide functions on source
and destination. 4 linear comparisons on each pixel per cycle. Square area
fill up to 32 Mpixels/sec. Line draw up to 32 Mpixels/sec. Trapeziod fill up
to 32 Mpixels/sec.
Expansion:- Both the main T800 system and the 68000 I/O subsystem can be
expanded: The 68000 bus is available for expansion via 1 slot. The T800 bus
is available for expansion via 4 slots.
The T800 expansion slots will support additional transputers and RAM. The
T800 bus is also available for adding support cards such as X25, Ethernet,
Link X-Bar switch (based on C004/T212). Up to 12 Additional T800-20 can be
added to the ATW. There is no limit to the numbers of processors that can
be added externally.
Operating System:- The operating system, Helios is a true distributed
operating system. There are no central services upon which the entire system
relies, thus making the system more fault tolerant. The distributed nature
of Helios is transparent to both the user and programs.
Helios is multi-tasking and designed specifically for multi-tasking
architecture. The Helios environment, with its C shell and UNIX compatible
command set and libraries will be familiar to all UNIX programmers and
users. Helios is responsible for distributing program components to the
appropriate processor in the transputer network.
Languages:- The ATW and Helios support all major languages including: C,
Fortran 77, Modula 2, Lisp, Prolog, Basic, Occam, and Strand.
User Interface:- X-Windows Version 1.1 runs of Helios.The X-window system is
the standard for controlling window based graphics on workstations. It is
flexible and powerful. A desktop representing data and facilities as icons
will simplify the UNIX style of Helios. A mouse pointer will enable easy
selection of icons and pop-up menus.
A couple of notes to finish off the text with..
The 'Blossom' graphics processor was used as the basis of the graphics system
developed for the even more mythical Panther console!
About two hundred and fifty of these workstations were made, most of them
ending up doing photo-processing work for Kodak. So I guess that spotting one
of these 'in the wild' is a very rare event indeed.
Now does anyone fancy writing a demo for it?!
CiH, 'borrowed' for Alive Mag,June 2003.