News Atari Goes All-in on Cryptocurrencies and NFT

Cryptomining from those that brought you DigDug
The company that brought us DigDug went out of business in 1984. Since then, the Atari brand name, logo and properties have been licensed out to various other companies that are otherwise unrelated to the original Atari. The brand is now mostly just used as a means of extracting money from from people based on nostalgia.
 

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The company that brought us DigDug went out of business in 1984. Since then, the Atari brand name, logo and properties have been licensed out to various other companies that are otherwise unrelated to the original Atari. The brand is now mostly just used as a means of extracting money from from people based on nostalgia.
Today, yes, Atari is a gutted shell that isn’t more than a bunch of properties and so on. However, this didn’t happen in 1984, it happened starting in 1996. From 1984 to 1996 Atari was owned by the Tramiel family except for the coin op division, which remained with Warner in ‘84. Over those 12 years Atari was most certainly a cohesive company that inherited much from both Warner’s Atari and Bushnell, but then incorporated a slew of people from Tramiel’s Commodore days.

It was my intent to become an Atari Falcon030 dealer if Atari could show they intended to remain committed to their computer line, but they gave it up in 1993. A mistake imho. Not sure if Atari could have survived the great computer company purge of the ‘90s, but I always thought they had a better chance as a niche computer provider than trying to challenge Nintendo, 3DO, and so on.

Anyway, if you want some Atari info. there aren’t that many people who know more than me, but there are some. Curt Vendel being an excellent source. Still, anyone looking to discuss the glory days of computers can rely on me to participate.

EDIT: this iteration of Atari is rather sad. They’re really chasing everything that will give them a chance to bring in some money. I’m surprised they haven’t opened a brothel in Nevada.
 
It was my intent to become an Atari Falcon030 dealer if Atari could show they intended to remain committed to their computer line, but they gave it up in 1993. A mistake imho. Not sure if Atari could have survived the great computer company purge of the ‘90s, but I always thought they had a better chance as a niche computer provider than trying to challenge Nintendo, 3DO, and so on.
Motorola stopped developing the 680x0 line in 1994 for a reason...the time of home micros was over and the writing was on the walls years before that.
Just like amiga, atari was too much of a niche* even back then for them to pull through, amiga tried by trying to move over to powerPC at the same time that MAC did, but mac had the advantage of people being chained to the OS if they wanted to keep using all the professional tools only available on mac os.

* as a gaming system there where all the consoles plus PC and for professional work only a very very small amount of people that had these system used them for work.
 

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Motorola stopped developing the 680x0 line in 1994 for a reason...the time of home micros was over and the writing was on the walls years before that.
Just like amiga, atari was too much of a niche* even back then for them to pull through, amiga tried by trying to move over to powerPC at the same time that MAC did, but mac had the advantage of people being chained to the OS if they wanted to keep using all the professional tools only available on mac os.

* as a gaming system there where all the consoles plus PC and for professional work only a very very small amount of people that had these system used them for work.
I’m not sure the situation with the CPU was a deal killer. Granted, moving to a new CPU would have been a large undertaking, but in terms of market Atari and Commodore had a nearly same situation as Apple, just on a smaller scale. The Amiga might have been able to survive by maneuvering to keep as much control of the graphics market as possible.1 Atari had a near lock on the music industry. They also had their own in house graphics development in Blossom that was originally developed for the ATW (Atari Transputer Workstation) and was subsequently used in the Falcon030 and Jaguar. Also, Atari had DTP software (Calamus and Pagestream) that was the equal of Adobe and in Europe Atari had a large market share of the DTP market. Anyway, I could go on, but this is all hypothetical.

My main point, however, is that I think a lot of people look at Atari and Commodore and assume that their fall meant it was inevitable they couldn’t have survived . But if you read my note below youll see they made catastrophic mistakes that gave them zero room for error. OTOH, look at Acorn. They made the Archimedes and sold it only in the UK if memory serves. They had a much smaller market than either Atari or Commodore and yet they survived longer simply by making more reasonable decisions and so on. Of course the Archimedes was eventually discontinued as well, but I have always wondered what a company with more resources and a larger market might have achieved. After all, Atari and Commodore had advantages that Acorn really could only dream of. With more reasonable decisions and a better sense of where the market was heading I think at least one of these companies could have survived..... or maybe it was inevitable.

1- Commodore’s real downfall was inept management. They had far more resources than Atari but they planned poorly, invested in the wrong things, and there may have been some financial irregularities with the company ”losing” a lot of money. I’m nowhere near as familiar with the details of Commodore history, but their position should have been decent heading into the ‘90s but instead they really flamed out. Atari under the Tramiels, otoh, was run with far fewer resources. The Tramiel family just didn’t have the money to reinvigorate the company enough and they made their own share of mistakes. The worst was purchasing the Federated group of electronics stores. It crushed their finances just as they had paid off some of the debts from the purchase from Warner. This mistake sapped all their resources heading into the ‘90s and they simply didn’t have the resources to recover.

One other thing: Commodore’s move from Motorola to PowerPC was not at the same time as Apple. Commodore was long out of business before a subsequent party purchased the Amiga name, hardware and software rights, etc. and then began the process of moving to the PowerPC. I think that started in 2001, not the mid-90s. There may have been some early planning back in the mid-90s, not sure, but Commodore had ceased operating in early 1994, so I doubt they had gotten very far. Definitely nothing was brought to market. So it isn’t accurate to say Commodore transition to the Power PC and failed to hold market share. In fact, they never got that far. That’s what is so sad about Commodore though. As you noted, the writing was on the wall for the Motorola line and they were too busy releasing new 68000 hardware.... ugh.
 
I’m not sure the situation with the CPU was a deal killer. Granted, moving to a new CPU would have been a large undertaking, but in terms of market Atari and Commodore had a nearly same situation as Apple, just on a smaller scale. The Amiga might have been able to survive by maneuvering to keep as much control of the graphics market as possible.1 Atari had a near lock on the music industry. They also had their own in house graphics development in Blossom that was originally developed for the ATW (Atari Transputer Workstation) and was subsequently used in the Falcon030 and Jaguar. Also, Atari had DTP software (Calamus and Pagestream) that was the equal of Adobe and in Europe Atari had a large market share of the DTP market. Anyway, I could go on, but this is all hypothetical.

My main point, however, is that I think a lot of people look at Atari and Commodore and assume that their fall meant it was inevitable they couldn’t have survived . But if you read my note below youll see they made catastrophic mistakes that gave them zero room for error. OTOH, look at Acorn. They made the Archimedes and sold it only in the UK if memory serves. They had a much smaller market than either Atari or Commodore and yet they survived longer simply by making more reasonable decisions and so on. Of course the Archimedes was eventually discontinued as well, but I have always wondered what a company with more resources and a larger market might have achieved. After all, Atari and Commodore had advantages that Acorn really could only dream of. With more reasonable decisions and a better sense of where the market was heading I think at least one of these companies could have survived..... or maybe it was inevitable.

1- Commodore’s real downfall was inept management. They had far more resources than Atari but they planned poorly, invested in the wrong things, and there may have been some financial irregularities with the company ”losing” a lot of money. I’m nowhere near as familiar with the details of Commodore history, but their position should have been decent heading into the ‘90s but instead they really flamed out. Atari under the Tramiels, otoh, was run with far fewer resources. The Tramiel family just didn’t have the money to reinvigorate the company enough and they made their own share of mistakes. The worst was purchasing the Federated group of electronics stores. It crushed their finances just as they had paid off some of the debts from the purchase from Warner. This mistake sapped all their resources heading into the ‘90s and they simply didn’t have the resources to recover.

One other thing: Commodore’s move from Motorola to PowerPC was not at the same time as Apple. Commodore was long out of business before a subsequent party purchased the Amiga name, hardware and software rights, etc. and then began the process of moving to the PowerPC. I think that started in 2001, not the mid-90s. There may have been some early planning back in the mid-90s, not sure, but Commodore had ceased operating in early 1994, so I doubt they had gotten very far. Definitely nothing was brought to market. So it isn’t accurate to say Commodore transition to the Power PC and failed to hold market share. In fact, they never got that far. That’s what is so sad about Commodore though. As you noted, the writing was on the wall for the Motorola line and they were too busy releasing new 68000 hardware.... ugh.
Commodore went out of business in 94, 95 amiga(technologies) announced that they would move to powerpc and in 97 there where released products.
Mac was a couple of years earlier but just that, a couple of years in 94 when commodore went down.

Atari only had a lot of music folk because pc sound hardware was unobtanium back then, same for video hardware and the amiga.
As soon as pc hardware started to drop rapidly in price it was game over for them.
The Amiga was too much tied to its components, it was a too closed up environment, there wasn't really any reasonable way to make it work with pc hardware so it would have become more and more expensive compared to the PC hardware.
Atari was too much of an open system, they were running tos as an OS that people could also run on a dos machine, if atari made a system with pc hardware it would just have been another ibm clone and the competition between those at that time was fierce.

It's easy to say mismanagement with perfect 20/20 hindsight vision but the PC clone wars was something that even most PC companies died in, we had something like a dozen large CPU makers in the 90ies and now we have two with one of them barely holding on.
 

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Commodore went out of business in 94, 95 amiga(technologies) announced that they would move to powerpc and in 97 there where released products.
Mac was a couple of years earlier but just that, a couple of years in 94 when commodore went down.

Atari only had a lot of music folk because pc sound hardware was unobtanium back then, same for video hardware and the amiga.
As soon as pc hardware started to drop rapidly in price it was game over for them.
The Amiga was too much tied to its components, it was a too closed up environment, there wasn't really any reasonable way to make it work with pc hardware so it would have become more and more expensive compared to the PC hardware.
Atari was too much of an open system, they were running tos as an OS that people could also run on a dos machine, if atari made a system with pc hardware it would just have been another ibm clone and the competition between those at that time was fierce.

It's easy to say mismanagement with perfect 20/20 hindsight vision but the PC clone wars was something that even most PC companies died in, we had something like a dozen large CPU makers in the 90ies and now we have two with one of them barely holding on.
About Commodore: a couple years in computing, especially in the ‘90s, was death though. But even accepting that you’re still not comparing a healthy Commodore against Apple and seeing if they survived. You are comparing a healthy Apple (they got in bad shape later) against a dead and then barely revived, disorganized Amiga with minimal resources. So Commodore didn’t convert Workbench to PowerPC and lost their market thereafter.... Commodore died, their market moved on mostly, and the shambling corpse of the Amiga began to try to win them back after people had shifted to Microcrap and Apple. That’s not really the same though.

TOS couldn’t run on a DOS machine unless it was converted and, to my knowledge, that has never been done. I am almost sure that you’re thinking of GEM. That wasn’t the OS, it was the Graphics Environment Manager.... hence the name.

Of course saying mismanagement is looking at things with hindsight. My entire point was that had different, better choices been made they might have survived. Also, some of the mistakes Atari and Commodore made weren’t necessarily the sort only recognized in hindsight. Going back to the purchase of Federated, there were massive warning signs that it was a bad purchase. They lost a couple hundred million dollars because they didn’t do proper due diligence and ignored the due diligence that was performed AND ignored advice some of their own execs were giving. It was so stupid.....

Anyway, part of my point is that these companies might have survived and Atri had avenues to survive other than the ST and TOS. Here are some:

Atari had the Portfolio (a handheld DOS compatible computer) that they could have built on. It was designed by DIP but they could have bought this technology instead of merely selling it as a label. Since they had already developed their own handwriting recognition software (see the STylus) they could’ve eventually evolved this tech in a variety of ways that alone would’ve saved the company.

I mentioned Blossom before. They had their own graphics technology but never sought to build in it and sell it as a graphics option.

The Atari Lynx was fairly successful, but the Gameboy‘s numbers were WAY better (Like 9:1 better). Atari simply refused to adopt loss leaders, better marketing, and more investment in games. The thing is that had the Lynx been the market leader, something entirely obtainable when the Lynx was released, Atari could’ve survived on just that product for about a decade. As it is, the Lynx brought in only $25m a year instead of the $250m+ it could have. This would e been a game changer for Atari. They were a company with total revenues that, minus Federated, only topped $250m maybe once or twice from 1985 and 1996.

There are some other things as well. What made me such an Atari homer back then was I was always amazed that such a relatively small company managed to create so much technology. But it stretched them very thin and the Tramiels weren‘t always the best at reading the tea leaves and knowing where to take chances and where to cut losses.

One last thing: you’re certainly right that dropping PC hardware would’ve made this scenario bleak. However, I don’t think it is true that that would’ve doomed Atari’s music market. You know why? Take a look at what used Atari computers are going for on eBay. They sell for more now than they ever have and it is because musicians are hoarding them. Even now, over 25 years after making their last computer, musicians still prefer the ST and Falcon. There is an interesting article on this if you’re interested. Apparently the ST has a nearly perfect clock and this keep oddities from creeping into MIDI recordings. Contemporary computers, despite everything, are still inferior to the ST for music. Now I don’t know if Atari could’ve kept making new computers like this, but it is food for thought.
 
About Commodore: a couple years in computing, especially in the ‘90s, was death though. But even accepting that you’re still not comparing a healthy Commodore against Apple and seeing if they survived. You are comparing a healthy Apple (they got in bad shape later) against a dead and then barely revived, disorganized Amiga with minimal resources. So Commodore didn’t convert Workbench to PowerPC and lost their market thereafter.... Commodore died, their market moved on mostly, and the shambling corpse of the Amiga began to try to win them back after people had shifted to Microcrap and Apple. That’s not really the same though.
I never said that commodore did it, my original quote was that amiga tried to do it.
And the amiga 500 was released in 1987 and the follow up model the 1200 in 1992, so it was pretty much in line with what would be a normal release date for the next model.
TOS couldn’t run on a DOS machine unless it was converted and, to my knowledge, that has never been done. I am almost sure that you’re thinking of GEM. That wasn’t the OS, it was the Graphics Environment Manager.... hence the name.
Well it's the part that people would see and connect to the atari.
Atari had the Portfolio (a handheld DOS compatible computer) that they could have built on. It was designed by DIP but they could have bought this technology instead of merely selling it as a label. Since they had already developed their own handwriting recognition software (see the STylus) they could’ve eventually evolved this tech in a variety of ways that alone would’ve saved the company.

I mentioned Blossom before. They had their own graphics technology but never sought to build in it and sell it as a graphics option.

The Atari Lynx was fairly successful, but the Gameboy‘s numbers were WAY better (Like 9:1 better). Atari simply refused to adopt loss leaders, better marketing, and more investment in games. The thing is that had the Lynx been the market leader, something entirely obtainable when the Lynx was released, Atari could’ve survived on just that product for about a decade. As it is, the Lynx brought in only $25m a year instead of the $250m+ it could have. This would e been a game changer for Atari. They were a company with total revenues that, minus Federated, only topped $250m maybe once or twice from 1985 and 1996.
Well the gameboy did so much better because it was about $100 cheaper, 90 compared to 180, that is part of my point a better product doesn't mean that the company would be able to survive on it, it's all about if you can sell it or not and if it's too expensive you can't.
(I don't even know the other products)
One last thing: you’re certainly right that dropping PC hardware would’ve made this scenario bleak. However, I don’t think it is true that that would’ve doomed Atari’s music market. You know why? Take a look at what used Atari computers are going for on eBay. They sell for more now than they ever have and it is because musicians are hoarding them. Even now, over 25 years after making their last computer, musicians still prefer the ST and Falcon. There is an interesting article on this if you’re interested. Apparently the ST has a nearly perfect clock and this keep oddities from creeping into MIDI recordings. Contemporary computers, despite everything, are still inferior to the ST for music. Now I don’t know if Atari could’ve kept making new computers like this, but it is food for thought.
There are crazy people right no that horde Gameboys for chiptune music.
It doesn't mean much.
The amiga also had a perfect sync with the TV signal back then but the ease of use and sheer power of the PC made it irrelevant.
If you have to use decrepitated software to use better hardware 9 out of ten (random, just my opinion) people are going to choose the easier route.
 
The thing is that had the Lynx been the market leader, something entirely obtainable when the Lynx was released, Atari could’ve survived on just that product for about a decade.
The Lynx had some issues beyond just marketing though. For one, it was massive, with its dimensions totaling nearly three times the volume of the original Game Boy. That's not exactly ideal for something being pitched as a portable device. Battery life was also only a fraction of the Game Boy's, despite running on six AA batteries as opposed to four, and one would effectively be burning through batteries roughly five times as fast as a result. Since rechargeable AAs were not particularly good back then, most would be using disposable alkalines, which could get expensive fast. There was an AC adapter (sold separately) but again, that's not going to be ideal for a portable system. And if kids were not bringing the system with them places due to the bulkiness and poor battery life, that was bound to hurt word-of-mouth sales, something that likely played in the Game Boy's favor.
 

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