News Team Current issue History Online Support Download Forum @Pouet

01 - 02 - SE - 03 - 04 - 05 - 06 - 07 - 08 - 09 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14

Alive 7

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!


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
to 4Megabyte.

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.

Alive 7