"The elevator always comes after you have put down your bag."
Arthur Bloch, Murphy's Law
THE FRENCH POINT OF VIEW: HOW'S THE FALCON DOING IN FRANCE?
by Klaus Berg (Vantage of ST Connexion)
B - Opportunities/Threats
O Unanimous support from the ST fans
Even if there hasn't been any promotion for it at all, the
Falcon has benefited a lot from the support of ST owners. This
crowd, 100% devoted to the Atari world, has patiently waited
for the release of the Falcon, and is now making as much
promotion for it as possible. Atari may not have an large a
customer base as PC-manufacturers, but it can at least claim
that its customers are worth relying on!
O The music world
The MIDI-world is still a more than interesting market for
Atari. We've seen articles about the Falcon in all specialized
magazines, at least in France and Germany. For professional
musicians this machine, with its Midi-interface, Direct to Disk
possibilities and high-quality software (e.g. "Cubase Audio" by
Steinberg (Which costs 2500 Dutch guilders, ED.)), is a low-
cost (?!, ED.) solution to many problems. Interesting to note
that Atari also has had good results at the recent NAMM music-
fair in Anaheim, California, with people like Bon Jovi, Stevie
Wonder or The Pointer Sisters on its stand (but James Hetfield
or Lars Ulrich were not there, sorry Richard!).
What does the Jaguar have to do with the Falcon, I hear you
ask? Well, because of all these agreements that have been made
between Atari and giants like Time Warner or IBM for this new
generation entertainment machine, I am sure that the Jaguar
will have indirect and positive effects on the Falcon. Indeed,
it will allow people to make a connection between it and the
Jaguar, which apparently will benefit from a huge promotion
campaign, thanks to Big Blue... Developers might also want to
make Falcon-versions of their Jaguar-products. We'll see in
some time if I'm wrong...
When the ST was released in 1985, the world's economy was doing
better, and a 5-year expansion period was about to begin. This
is not the case with the Falcon, which is released in the
middle of a terrible world recession (unemployment is surging,
especially in the EC, Atari's best market), and a turn-up might
not come before 1995. It is too early to say if it is hurting
Atari, but it might be a threat to the company's short-term
O PC/Macintosh hegemony
The PC and the Macintosh already existed when the ST was
released, but they were much more expensive, and were far from
offering as much as the Atari-computer. Nowadays, things are
different, you find low-end color Macintosh computers cheaper
than the Falcon, not to mention PC's.
O Not enough software
The Falcon, just like the ST when it started, hasn't got enough
specific software yet. This is naturally about to change as
I've already said, but it is definitely a big handicap against
well-established machines like PC's and Macinstosh's.
The Jaguar Entertainment System might be a threat to the Falcon
when it comes to games. Indeed, some games that have started
being developed on the Falcon have been dropped - and now
converted to Jaguar specifications, a machine that is obviously
tailor-made for that kind of applications and that will benefit
from more promotion than the Falcon probably ever will. This is
dangerous, because semi-professional or professional software
is indeed important, but games are at least as much, as the
Falcon is a machine that is meant to be sold mainly to non-
professional end-users. Let's hope that Atari won't focus too
much on the Jaguar, because they have the Falcon to support
C - Conclusion
The Falcon has basically got three competitors. I know all of
them for having used them for quite some time.
The first competitor is the Amiga 1200, which is much cheaper at
the time of writing. To me, it is far from being as interesting
as the Falcon, as it hasn't got any DSP and is too closed: There
is no HD disk drive, no LocalTalk port, no Midi possibilities and
no DSP port of course. Besides, it is not as fast as the Falcon,
as it only has an eco-version of Motorola's MC68020. Therefore,
it is nothing but an enhanced version of the Amiga 500/600,
exactly like the STE was an enhanced ST (even if Commodore's
modifications are more comprehensive, let's be fair) (And let's
not forget the A1200 compatibility problems, shall we? ED.)
The second competitor is far more serious, it is the Macintosh.
The Macintosh compensates its aged hardware (new Mac's with 16
bit sound and AT&T DSP's are going to be released soon, but they
will be very expensive) with very high-quality software,
including games. "Acrobat", "Dimensions", "Illustrator",
"Photoshop", "Premiere" (Adobe), "Freehand", "Pagemaker",
"Persuasion" (Aldus), "FileMaker Pro", "MacWrite Pro", "Resolve"
(Claris), "FrameMaker" (Frame Technology), "Director", "Three-D"
(Macromind), "Excel", "Powerpoint", "Project", "Word"
(Microsoft), "Now Utilities" (Now Software), "XPress" (Quark),
"Norton Utilities" (Symantec), "Mathematica" (Wolfram Research)
etc. are all references in their domain and are all available on
the Macintosh. Besides, we must all admit that Apple has a far
more serious marketing policy and user-support than Atari and
that System 7.1 is still, on the whole, better than "MultiTOS".
So what's wrong with the Mac, I hear you ask?
Well, first of all, Apple is now obliged to lead the same policy
as PC manufacturers, in order to keep its market shares: Every 5
or 6 months, they change half of their models and cut the
remaining models' prices by up to 40%. To give you an example, I
bought a Powerbook 145 in September 1992. It cost me 14.500
French Francs. Now, the Powerbook 145 isn't available any more
and the new model, the 145B, costs 10.000 Francs. See the point?
Thankfully I was able to sell mine in April but many people are
not as lucky...
Let's not be blind: Atari will also have to lower its prices
regularly (they already did with the ST) and/or offer more for
the same price, but to me, it will be more progressive, because
they are not producing the machines by themselves unlike Apple
and because their customer base is not as big.
Second, Apple's high-end Power PC with RISC processor will be
introduced in January 1994 (Apple expects to sell one million
Power PC's in the world during the first year), so there's no
point in buying a Mac now!
Finally, from a more technical point of view, the Mac is ideal
for beginners because you are guided around all the time, in
order to make as few mistakes as possible. But for one that has
known the ST and/or other computers before, it is boring as hell,
believe me. You cannot mess around with the Mac and that's
exactly what's irritating. With my Powerbook, I felt tied up in a
system, without any possibility of escaping from it. Basically, I
need a computer that I can use for my work (wordprocessing,
database and spreadsheet), but with which I also can have fun.
The Mac is Ok for the first part, but not for the second which
is, to me, just as important.
The last competitor to the Falcon is probably the biggest (or
shall we say the worst?): It's the PC. It benefits from an
incredible software support (much bigger than the Mac's) and all
the world's largest computer-manufacturers are behind it (even
Atari made some PC's some years ago, remember that?). You see
PC's everywhere these days...
However, the PC is exactly the opposite of the Mac: It is one of
the most anti-user-friendly computer I've ever used. I have an
example: The person in charge of the computer facilities at my
school bought a few months ago a Mac-scanner and a PC-scanner for
our computers. Well, it took no time to get the Mac-scanner to
work (a cable to plug in, that's all), but it took one week to
find out how to choose the proper driver and settings for the PC-
scanner! To me, Atari-computers have the advantages of both the
PC and the Macintosh, without suffering from their drawbacks!
Moreover, the PC is outdated. What's the idea of putting an
Intel i80486 DX2/66 or even a Pentium in a machine that cannot
address more than 640 Kb, that has got an 8 MHz bus and no
coprocessors whatsoever? It's like putting an Aston Martin engine
in a Volkswagen Beatle! Moreover, in order to stay compatible
with other PC's, even Pentium-machines have to run in i8086-mode.
To give you an idea, the programmer of Flashback's PC version has
told a friend of mine that 20% of his total CPU time on an i80486
DX/33 is used for the handling of the joystick... For these two
reasons alone, you'll never see me buying a PC (and I'm not even
talking about the prices dropping every week and the 1994 Power
PC, two other good reasons!).
So now there's only the Falcon left, and as you most probably
have guessed, it is my favourite. Indeed, it has a modern
hardware, good all-round capacities (you see everything on it,
from "Calamus SL" and "Cubase Audio" to demos and shoot'em ups)
and a lot of interfaces. Finally, it also offers a very good
Only software remains a problem: MultiTOS still needs some
cleaning-up (but this is under way, see "The Future" part) and
there are not enough specific programs available yet, especially
games, which appeal to the kind of public Atari is aiming at. But
this should also change, it is not something irreversible, like
the PC's and the Mac's problems.
IV - Atena
Richard also asked us to write down in our articles what
projects we have for the Falcon (if any). Well, I do have some...
I am the general secretary of an association founded early this
year by some French ex-ST demo guys. We also have a few
independent people with us, and we try to work out ideas and
routines for the Falcon, although we are all studying/working,
which doesn't make things easy.
The name of our association is Atena. It is recognized
officially by the French 1901-law and therefore has to be run in
accordance with certain (strict) rules. On the other hand, our
statutes give us some advantages that we wouldn't have if we
still had a "demo-crew"-organisation.
A demo presenting our association should be released by the time
you read these lines, but I won't give details about it here,
because if it hasn't been released yet, you'd miss the surprise
One of our members is working on a 16-bit soundtracker for
Application Systems Paris, it should be out (at least in France)
in October 1993. Another member of Atena is working on a high-
quality sampler, release date unknown. Finally, I'd like to
mention that we have a lot of really original ideas for
software, but not much time to work on them unfortunately... So
if you feel motivated, have good ideas, time and experience,
write to Atena!
V - The Future
In this part, I want to talk about the Falcon's future, and by
future I mean evolution. We'll take a look at the agreements
Atari has made with some big American companies and try to figure
out what consequences these may have. I'll also talk about the
A - Agreements
As the Falcon is presented as the first multimedia machine in
the world, Atari has quite logically signed an agreement with
Kodak, for its Photo CD. One will thus be able to load a
photograph on a Falcon, change it, and save it afterwards for
instance. Software like Eurosoft's "Photo Studio" is naturally
ideal for that kind of activity, although it is not as powerful
as Adobe's "Photoshop" on the Macintosh (maybe the professional
version will be, because after all, "Photo Studio" is much
cheaper and designed to be used by non-professionals).
As you probably know, Atari has bought the Cinepac technology
from its American developers, SuperMac. This compression
technology allows one to store a complete video film onto one
Compact Disc, and has already been bought by Apple some time ago
(they use it in "QuickTime"). In other words, Atari is getting
its new machines (both the Jaguar and the Falcon) ready for CD
ROM, which seems quite logical considering the fact that more and
more CD software is available these days. Besides, it might be a
good argument against reluctant software companies: CD's are
obviously much more difficult to pirate and graphics and sounds
can be imported directly from other machines. Only the code
(usually in C) remains to be converted to the Atari.
Talking about the Jaguar, Atari has also recently signed an
agreement with Time Warner, allowing Jaguar-developers to gain
access, under certain conditions I suppose, to all Time Warner's
well-known characters (Batman, Bugs Bunny, etc.) and images.
Atari has put a stress on the fact that these will be used in
games, but also in multimedia applications, whatever these may
be. I hope it goes for the Falcon too.
Finally, one thing that may not concern the Falcon directly, but
that I consider as a mini-revolution: Atari and IBM have signed a
500 million dollar contract together! IBM is not only going to
manufacture the Jaguar game-consoles in its plant in Charlotte,
North Carolina, but it will also handle the Jaguar's packing,
exports and worldwide promotion! Could you imagine, just five
years ago, Atari and IBM signing a contract together? Things have
obviously changed a lot...
B - Hardware
It has now been confirmed by Atari that the official promotion
campaign for the Falcon will start from September 1993. As an
Atari official told me, "until now we've sold machines mainly to
Atari fans. Now, we want the others to get to know the Falcon and
its amazing capacities too". I don't know anything about the
campaign's outfit yet, just that it will be launched in the whole
of Europe. That is also why a new model should be released before
Often called "Micro Box", it will have a separate keyboard,
32 bit hardware and some extension slots. Some people mention 32
MHz processors, others a version with built-in CD Rom, that I
don't know about... It should also look completely different from
the Falcon 030 we know, because it is apparently designed by the
guy that also designs Macintosh-computers!
The equivalent of the TT in the Falcon range is of course the
long awaited Falcon 040, which still hasn't been released nor
announced officially, although my sources tell me that it has
been ready for three or four months now... The only things we
know are that it will be more "open" (i.e. slots will allow one
to expand it easily), able to display 24 bit graphics (16.7
million colours) and, of course, that it will contain a Motorola
MC68040 processor (25 MHz? 33 MHz? 40 MHz? Several versions?). My
sources have told me that it should contain two DSPs - let's pray
for a Motorola DSP96002 on top of the DSP56001 we already have -
and that the launch of this machine will be the occasion for
Atari to introduce a new "MultiTOS" also. The latter will be
faster (nearly all the VDI-routines are currently being rewritten
in MC68030-assembler...) and will contain exciting improvements,
like network-support and real multitasking abilities (e.g.
"MultiTOS" will still run other applications if you drag a
window). But until all this is confirmed officially, do not take
this information seriously, it may be pure speculation and I know
that Richard prefers it when we don't talk about "unsure stuff".
Anyway, what I can confirm, is that an Atari official has
recently said that he is very pleased with the current evolution
of MultiTOS, which has reached version 1.07 at the time of
Finally, Atari is working on a low-cost modem for the Falcon
(remember the DSP's abilities in telecommunications?), release
date and technical specs unknown to me... I don't even know if it
will be possible to buy it in France, with these damned France
VI - An interview with Jean-Marie Cocheteau of Atari France
The following is taken from an interview of Jean-Marie Cocheteau
I made for the French "ST Magazine" in May 1993. I have only
retained what I thought was of interest for ST NEWS and its
Jean-Marie Cocheteau is member of the Atari France technical
department and is in charge, together with Loïc Duval, of the
development on Falcon-computers in France.
Q: How would you position the Falcon, when compared to PC and
A: The Falcon 030 is naturally a competitor to PC, Macintosh and
Amiga computers, but it is first of all a multimedia machine,
which means that everything is supplied from the start, which is
not the case with the competition's computers. The Falcon is
therefore ahead in everything that is connected to multimedia,
but it also brings, in more classic domains, the same advantages
as PC and Macintosh computers: With "SpeedoGDOS", we now supply
vectorial printing, we have a real multitasking operating system
etc. In other words, the Falcon is up-to-date when it comes to
classic applications and ahead in the most exciting domain,
Q: Is the Falcon selling in accordance with your forecasts?
A: To tell you the truth, even better. It is funny to note that
the Falcon is selling better than the ST did when it was
launched. This is of course pleasing, even if we have run out of
stock several times already! However, the market is in a bad
shape everywhere for the moment, so I don't want to be too
optimistic, even if Atari now has an attractive range of
computers that, I think, will be extended soon.
Q: Until now, the Falcon has only been available at specialized
dealers, at least in France. Will it also be sold in department
stores like the ST and STE computers were?
A: Yes, it will be soon be available in department stores.
Q: Has Atari Corporation contacted well-known PC and Mac
software companies, in order to try to convince them to convert
their "software stars" to the Falcon?
A: This has never been an Atari tradition. I don't see why we
should pay a company to have its software converted to our
computers, because it would obviously have negative effects on
our prices! Never forget that we always try to give "power
without the price". Besides, we already have software on the
Atari that is as good, sometimes even better, than the equivalent
on the machines you mentioned. Finally, Atari prefers to invest
in agreements that are really interesting for everybody, like the
one signed with Kodak for the Photo CD format.
Q: The fact that the Falcon has a LocalTalk interface makes it
ready for networks as far as the hardware is concerned. When will
networking be possible for everyone?
A: Eric Smith is indeed working on an XFS-network version of
MultiTOS (peer-to-peer kind), I cannot say when it will be
Q: When will the new Atari-joysticks be available?
A: Very soon, some games are already taking advantage of them.
By the way, I want to point out the fact that these new joysticks
can be used for games, of course, but also for numerous other
applications, like synthesizer-controlling, information panels
etc. You'll see that in many of the programs that are about to be
(I've read somewhere that "Llamazap" is a likely candidate for
being bundled with this joystick in the future, ED.)
Q: Is the marketing of a portable Falcon forecast ("Falcon
A: Not that I know of!
Q: Has Atari other software-projects than "Atari Works"?
A: Yes, we have some under way, but I'm afraid I cannot talk
about them here.
Q: What would you like to say to a person that it is still
hesitating to buy a Falcon?
A: I'd say that with the Falcon, he would gain access to domains
that until now were reserved to professionals. If the person had
an ST before, I'd say that the OS has been improved significantly
(e.g. one printer driver is used for all applications) and that
the Falcon can run most of his software, and faster. Finally, I'd
say that just two years ago, when you wanted to contact a DSP-
developer in France (there were only five of them at the time),
he came at once. Now, there are a lot more of them, and they all
ask for several months before they can come, because of the
increasing demand they have to satisfy on the Falcon. I'll let
you imagine what that may mean...
VII - Useful addresses
This part consists of the addresses of most of the companies
that are mentioned in my article. Just in case you wanted to
contact one (or more) of them...
Adobe Systems Inc. Aldus Corporation
1585 Charleston Road 411 First Avenue South
Mountain View, CA 94043 Seattle, WA 98104
Apple Computer Inc. Application Systems Paris
20525 Mariani Avenue 18, rue Germain Dardan
Cupertino, CA 95014-6299 92120 Montrouge
Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. (Just in case you're interested in
Tickford Street buying one of those fine sports
Newport Pagnell machines!)
Buckinghamshire, MK16 9AN
AT&T Micro-Electronics Atari Computer Corp.
2 Oak Way 1196 Borregas Avenue
Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922-2727 Sunnyvale, CA 94089-1302
Atari France Atari Intrntnll Catalog
79, Avenue Louis Roche P.O. Box 61657
92238 Gennevilliers Cedex Sunnyvale, CA 94089-1657
Atena (enclose IRC's) AutoDesk Inc.
22, Allée des Amandiers 2320 Marinship Way
91220 Le Plessis P?té Sausalito, CA 94965
Borland International Inc. Brainstorm
1800 Green Hills Road 19bis, rue de Cotte
P.O. Box 660001 75012 Paris
Scotts Valley, CA 95067 France
Business Assistance Claris Corp.
1, rue de la Gendarmerie 5201 Patrick Henry Drive
26230 Grignan Santa Clara, CA 95052
Commodore Computer Compo Software GmbH
1200 Wilson Drive Ritzstraße 13
Westchester, PA 19380 W-5540 Prun
Delphine Software DMC
150, boulevard Haussmann Schöne Aussicht 41
75016 Paris W-6229 Walluf
Eastman Kodak Co. Electronic Arts
343 State street 1450 Fashion Island Bvd.
Rochester, NY 14650 San Mateo, CA 94404
3, rue Bertrand de Born 190, rue de Lezennes
31000 Toulouse 59650 Villeneuve d'Ascq
Frame Technology Corp. France Telecom
1010 Rincon Circle 6, Place d'Alleray
San Jose, CA 95131 75505 Paris Cedex 15
Gadgets by Small Inc. Hisoft
40 W. Littleton Boulevard, #210-211 The Old School
Littleton, CO 80120 Greenfield
USA Bedford MK45 5DE
Infogrames Intel Corp.
84, rue du 1er Mars 1943 5200 NE.Elam Young Parkw.
69100 Villeurbanne Hillsboro, OR 97124
Lankhor Lexicor Software
84bis, Avenue du G?n?ral de Gaulle 58 Redword Road
92140 Clamart Fairfax, CA 94930
Lucasfilm Games Macromind
P.O. Box 10307 600 Townsend St, Sut 310W
San Rafael, CA 94912 San Francisco, CA 94103
Microprose Software Microsoft
180 Lakefront Drive 1 Microsoft Way
Hunt Valley, Maryland 21030-2245 Redmond, WA 98052-6399
Motorola Semiconductors HQ NeXT Computer Inc.
3102 N. 56th Street 900 Chesapeake Drive
Phoenix, Arizona 85019 Redwood City, CA 94063
Now Software Inc. Origin
319 SW. Washington Street 110 Wild Basin Road
11th Floor Suite 230
Portland, OR 97204 Austin, TX 78746
OverScan GbR PARX Software
Isakovic-Jerchel 35, rue du Jeu de Paume
Säntisstraße 166 53000 Laval
D-1000 Berlin 48 France
Pressimage SARL Pure Software
ST Magazine c/o Application Systems
19, rue Hégésippe Moreau Postfach 10 26 46
75018 Paris W-6900 Heidelberg
Quark Inc. Retour 2048
300 South Jackson 21 r.dela Fontaine au Roi
Suite 100 75011 Paris
Denver, Colorado 80209 France
Sierra On-Line Inc. Silmarils
P.O. Box 485 22, rue Maison Rouge
Coarsegold, CA 93614-0485 77185 Lognes
Steinberg Software GmbH SuperMac Technology
Eiffestra?e 596 215 Moffett Drive
20537 Hamburg Sunnyvale, CA 94089-1374
Symantec Corp. Thalion Software
10201 Torre Avenue Königstraße 16
Cupertino, CA 95014-2132 W-4830 Gütersloh
32, Boulevard Vallombrosa
Volkswagen AG (The Beetle is not available in Europe
Postfach anymore, you have to go all the way
W-3180 Wolfsburg 1 down to Mexico if you're interested
Germany in buying one, unless you want a used
one of course!)
Wolfram Research Inc.
100 Trade Center Drive
Champaign, IL 61820-7237
VIII - Time to say good-bye
Well I guess that's about it, I hope you didn't fall asleep on
your computer while reading this article!
If you wish to comment on it, or on any other Falcon-related
stuff, you are welcome! Just write to the following address,
enclosing enough International Reply Coupons for my answer (as
you know, my family-name is unfortunately neither Rockefeller nor
5, rue de la Pommeraie
78860 Saint Nom la Bretèche
I will try to reply to any letter as quickly as possible,
although I will be officer in the French army from September 1st
till the end of August 1994 (nice, eh?). Do I need to say that I
am not interested in any pirated software whatsoever? However,
information about foreign Falcon-markets/software is welcome, as
well as postcards!
I won't finish this article without wishing Stefan all the best
for the future (see ST NEWS Volume 8 Issue 1). Hope we'll hear
from you from time to time Stefan, because you've done an
impressive amount of work on the ST.
That's it folks, I'm off now - Bye, bye!
No, no, it's not over yet! I'd like to send some "Diamonds are
forever"-greetings to the following people:
ABCS 85, Alyssa, Delta Force, DMA, Electra, Legacy, MCoder,
Naos, Replicants (the first ones), Overlanders, Respectables,
Ripped Off, Sync, TCB, TEX, TLB, TNT-Crew, Tsunoo Rhilty, Ulm and
(And to the illustrious ST NEWS team too!)
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.