In the early '90s Atari was approached by a company called Flair Technology. They claimed that they could design a new console that would be better than the SNES and Mega Drive. Atari were so impressed that they provided funding for a new company called Flair II. The newly formed company set about designing two new machines, the 32 bit Panther and the 64 bit Jaguar. After cancelling the Panther project, Atari contracted IBM to manufacture the Jaguar.
Released late in 1993, the Jaguar was marketed as the worlds first 64 bit console resulting in speculation as to whether really was. Containing five processors on three chips, only two of them were in fact 64 bit. A proprietary chip named TOM contained two 64 bit and one 32 bit processors. Primarily used for graphics processing TOM was also able to execute program code if desired. JERRY was another 32 bit proprietary chip responsible for sound processing while a 16 bit Motorola 68000 acted as a main controller, managing the other two chips and executing code.
Included with the Jaguar was one of the largest joypads ever made, with an 8-way d-pad, A, B and C buttons, pause and option buttons, and a 12 key numeric pad complete with star and hash keys! It also shipped with a free game, Cybermorph, which included a plastic overlay for the controller's number pad for a customised control layout.
The Jaguar's short lifespan came to an end when Atari merged with JTS in 1996. With sales of around just 150,000 units and poor publisher support, production ended soon after. This would be Atari's final machine (the Jaguar II was planned but never released), and a sad end to the company that once dominated the console market. Atari is now controlled by French company Infogrames, where it continues as a software publisher.
Contributors: Ste (text & info)
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