How good was the Falcon?

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calimero
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Re: How good was the Falcon?

Postby calimero » Sat Jan 21, 2017 11:33 am

kolli wrote:But it was easy to expand those systems and didn't cost much! Tons of graphic adapters, I/O-cards, sound cards, this and that...
I agree in what you wrote about WIN 3.11 and WIN 95. But one has to admit that besides from MacOS those where the key to integrated desktops like those we still use today.

Microsoft was almost 10 years late!
Because Microsoft was unable to make good enough GUI OS, entire planet suffer!
Thanks we had Atari, Amiga and Mac so software developers did not need to wait on Microsoft to deliver working GUI OS so many application that we use today start they life on TOS, Workbench or Mac OS: PhotoShop, Excel, CuBase, Logic, Cinema 4D, 3D Max, Maya, Premier, After Effect, Illustrator, ArchiCad... (I open thread with list: viewtopic.php?t=22856)

Beside, there is one much bigger problem with GUI OSs that we use today!
This is entire separate topic but I will try to get you interested so you can explore on yourself:

all OSes take Xerox as inspiration but non of them really copy Xerox system beyond surface look!

Xerox system works much as Douglas Englebart NLS. Smaltalk on Xerox did not have application to work on separate data files, but you have object and entire system works around them! Alan Kay still today use this kind of system in his talks when he presents something. Take a look at this video and you will see how it is different from todays computers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnrlSqtpOkw

What Apple, Microsoft and others did: they made system, not around object and data, but central stuff is how to print something on paper: they made modern typewrites of computer. Computer are much more capable than this but yet, still today, after 40 years we still put information in form of A4 (or letter) format.

kolli wrote:They totally neglected that Ataris where widely used as business machines in the beginning of the 90ies! For example Papyrus is as good as any later word processor for PC operating systems. But the TT lacked hires color graphics (without expensive graphics adapters) and the Falcon was a home computer, as you allready said!

I still use Papyrus today!!! It is not only "as good as any later word processor for PC" it is FAR BETTER than anything on market today!
When I show to people how to use Papyrus database, how to make reports... and when people _understand_ that data should be separated from "paper form" they start to use Papyrus on amazing ways! Papyrus is what Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and Access) should be - integrated in one, and so easy to master that any secretary can learn it!
Beside Papyrus, there is also brilliant, but yet unknown program: it is Quantrix from NextStep (was called Improv - they "invent" pivot tables, or more precise: Pivot tables are natural to it). Quantrix is what Excel should be. I urge you to try it, it works completely different from Excel and similar and it is far, far more powerfull!
Regarding Atari: yes, Atari should release 68020 computer in 1988. and so on... instead they were making TT for 5 years :( (Shiraz Shivji left Atari and Roy Good take his role to finish TT).

kolli wrote:To me all that DSP stuff did not make any sense. I had no use for it. Did no hard disk recording or so.

Without DSP you could not watch JPEG fast, or watch videos... both get popular in mid 90s. I also have fun with fractals... I think DSP was really good decision in Falcon!
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Re: How good was the Falcon?

Postby calimero » Sat Jan 21, 2017 11:36 am

Frank B wrote:I don't know what was worse, putting a crippled 020 into the 1200 with 7 mhz bus speed or putting a full 030 onto a 16 bit bus on the Falcon.
Both are sub optimal. The Falcon has faster ST RAM access than Amiga chip RAM though!

but why Falcon do not have 32bit bus?
I do not believe that price of 32bit mother sole is the reason... something else must be.
using Atari since 1986.http://wet.atari.orghttp://milan.kovac.cc/atari/software/ ・ Atari Falcon030/CT63/SV ・ Atari STe ・ Atari Mega4/MegaFile30/SM124 ・ Amiga 1200/PPC ・ Amiga 500 ・ C64 ・ ZX Spectrum ・ RPi ・ MagiC! ・ MiNT 1.18 ・ OS X

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Re: How good was the Falcon?

Postby Faucon2001 » Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:21 pm

Well from what I read and my limited technical knowledge I saw 2 hypothesis:
- the first hypothesis, explained by Rodolphe Czuba a few years ago, was that a 32 bits bus would have obliged the Falcon to be sold with more memory, and memory was very costly at that time and would have put the Falcon out of the market. I have no way to challenge this idea, but coming from a technical expert it make sens.
- The second hypothesis is mainly business oriented. Atari started developing the Falcon butchering a ST and grafting a 68030 and DSP on top of it, and that's what finally the Falcon is. From 1988-1989 Atari was facing financial issues ( drop of incomes, heavy structure, that are related in boards reports found on the net). In 1992, Atari was really in bad health, and though the Falcon development was not finalized, they may have decided to launch an unfinished, but still worth product, in an attempt to recover some financial health on the computer market. A more sarcastic version of this hypothesis would be that Atari knowing that the end was near, launched the Falcon to amortize furthermore assets like case moulds and motherboard industrial tools in order to switch to another business model 1 year later with a better financial situation (explaining the same case and similarities with the ST motherboard, and depreciating assets is always better than doing a write off, especially for the stock market). These are my 2 cents analysis of what could have been the reasons, only an Atari Director from that time would be able to confirm.
Now this doesn't remove the merit of the Falcon being an interesting and atypical machine ( I got one at that time, and I still have one today), but it always puzzled me why Atari after a genial ST in 85, which was a killer proposal at that time, launched an unfinished Falcon which was bound to fail compared to strong competitors on the market in 93 and change of home computing paradigm.
On top of that, we can also see a lack of strategic vision from Atari which led them to the quick end we all know.
But would a better and finished Falcon have saved them from going out of the computer market? I don't think so, as the market share gap between PCs and traditional home computer makers was so huge in 1993, that it was almost impossible to compete.
So to conclude, I believe that the Falcon was unfinished on purpose to clean financial assets, proposing something that could still be interesting for core Atari users while preparing their move to the gaming industry.

By the way, very interesting reflexion Calimero on computer system.
Philippe

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Re: How good was the Falcon?

Postby Cyprian » Sat Jan 21, 2017 2:39 pm

Faucon2001, I'm not sure about both hypothesis because actually Falcon has 32bit bus, but only between memory and Videl
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Re: How good was the Falcon?

Postby Faucon2001 » Sat Jan 21, 2017 3:31 pm

Cyprian,

Please read https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_Falcon
Bus Speed: 16 MHz, Bus width: 16 bit

Anyway, my hypothesis are to answer the statement : why the Falcon is an unfinished machine, that is to say not full 32 bits?
Philippe

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Re: How good was the Falcon?

Postby Frank B » Sat Jan 21, 2017 3:54 pm

Faucon2001 wrote:Cyprian,

Please read https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_Falcon
Bus Speed: 16 MHz, Bus width: 16 bit

Anyway, my hypothesis are to answer the statement : why the Falcon is an unfinished machine, that is to say not full 32 bits?


Because it was supposed to have a 68000 in it? :) I think Atari designed the machine around the 68k and bumped the specs when they heard of the 1200.

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Re: How good was the Falcon?

Postby Cyprian » Sat Jan 21, 2017 4:01 pm

Faucon2001, belive me or not, Videl has 32bit access to the ram.
Moreover, there is a dedicated hardware register $FFFF82C0 where you can switch between 16bit and 32bit RAM access for Videl


http://rodolphe.czuba.free.fr/CT2/english/technic.htm
https://mikro.naprvyraz.sk/docs/mikro/030_stram.html
http://www.atari-wiki.com/index.php/Atari_Falcon
Jaugar / TT030 / Mega STe / 800 XL / 1040 STe / Falcon030 / 65 XE / 520 STm / SM124 / SC1435
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Re: How good was the Falcon?

Postby Faucon2001 » Sat Jan 21, 2017 6:12 pm

Cyprian I believe you, but we are not talking about the same thing. I am talking about the data bus and both Rodolphe and Mikro articles confirmed that it is a 16bit bus, which heavily decreases the performance of the Falcon.
By the way, the first hypothesis I mentioned is explained in detail in Rodolphe article.
I am more puzzled by the Atari wiki : so let's ask experts ( I am not one) : Is the Falcon data bus 16 bits or 32 bits wide?
Philippe

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My music http://www.philippeworld.net/
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Re: How good was the Falcon?

Postby calimero » Sat Jan 21, 2017 6:18 pm

@Faucon2001
Cyprian already told you: data from RAM travel to CPU by 16bit bus.
Data from RAM to Videl chip travel by 32bit bus.

---
@Frank B - quite possible that they replace 68000 with 68030 at last minute.
but I still would like for someone to explain why 32bit bus would require 2 or 8MB in Falcon?
using Atari since 1986.http://wet.atari.orghttp://milan.kovac.cc/atari/software/ ・ Atari Falcon030/CT63/SV ・ Atari STe ・ Atari Mega4/MegaFile30/SM124 ・ Amiga 1200/PPC ・ Amiga 500 ・ C64 ・ ZX Spectrum ・ RPi ・ MagiC! ・ MiNT 1.18 ・ OS X

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Re: How good was the Falcon?

Postby Faucon2001 » Sat Jan 21, 2017 6:31 pm

Hehe ;-)
It seems like we have a dialogue of the deaf.
@calimero : ok so we all agree
@frank B : Falcon development started on a ST with an addon card with a 68030 and dsp.
http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=635
Philippe

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Re: How good was the Falcon?

Postby calimero » Sat Jan 21, 2017 7:07 pm

Faucon2001 wrote:@frank B : Falcon development started on a ST with an addon card with a 68030 and dsp.
http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=635

from link "which was a development card plugged into the 68000 slot" - since 68000 has 16bit bus, thus entire card (with 68030 and DSP) use 16bit bus.
using Atari since 1986.http://wet.atari.orghttp://milan.kovac.cc/atari/software/ ・ Atari Falcon030/CT63/SV ・ Atari STe ・ Atari Mega4/MegaFile30/SM124 ・ Amiga 1200/PPC ・ Amiga 500 ・ C64 ・ ZX Spectrum ・ RPi ・ MagiC! ・ MiNT 1.18 ・ OS X

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Re: How good was the Falcon?

Postby mzry » Sat Jan 28, 2017 11:30 am

All I can say is: When I was a kid I had a 1040 STE, I loved it. I always read ST Format and dreamed about the Falcon, but being from a not so wealthy family I could not have it. Years later I managed to get the Falcon and have been having an excellent time with it! Right now I am running Vanilla Mint with all internet and productivity apps I need, I really like listening to module music so it is absolutely sensational to be able to play almost anything in 50hz while multi-tasking. If someone held a gun to me and said "Pick one computer, JUST ONE" I would give away all my modern rigs and keep the Falcon :)

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Re: How good was the Falcon?

Postby EmpireAndrew » Sat Jan 28, 2017 4:37 pm

Just to clarify, back when the Falcon was released, arguably 1992 although good luck getting your hands on one I personally consider the Falcon a 93 machine, PC's were not cheap nor was any upgrade item for them.

However, fast forward just 12-18 months and prices of PC's had dropped considerably.

In early 93 I could have bought a 14MB Falcon with 80(?)MB HDD and a colour VGA monitor for about £1,600.

In late 94 I actually bought a Compaq with 16MB, Pentium 90, 800MB HDD and a colour SVGA monitor for £1,800.
And that included a quad speed CD-ROM drive, sound card and speakers. And Windows 95.

I said it in another thread: the Falcon was too little, too late, for too much money.

That said at the time I wanted one because it was so much better than my STE, and the Amiga 1200 of a friend.

It was arguably one of, if not the, most powerful wedge or "home" computers ever made.
But it was very flawed due to, I believe, lack of money on Atari's part and also trying to keep the price down (hence the bus and case).
A 32 bit processor having to do two memory access to get a 32 bit word is bad.
It's basically equivalent to 386sx PC's, another hobbled design.

The DSP could make up for a lot of the shortcomings, but software had to be custom written to use it.
It would have been a far better machine with a 32 bit bus, faster clock speed (32MHZ?) and no DSP.
Then you'd get the benefits all the time with plain vanilla software too.

But even if it had been as I just described Atari would still have failed and dev support would be the same.

So it is what it is.
1977 VCS Heavy Sixxer (Boxed)
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1991 Atari TT030, 2/16MB, Int 8GB Gigafile, TOS 3.06, CaTTamaran Accelerator -> 1991 Atari TTM195 19" Mono CRT Monitor
1993 *** NEW! *** Atari Falcon030, 14MB, 84MB HDD, TOS 4.04
Amiga 500, Win 3.11 PC, Several old Macs, Newton, SGI Indy, much more and counting!


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