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Atari Panther - the baby Jaguar...



:: Atari Console: Panther To Go ::

In a sudden change of direction Atari has abandoned it's 32-bit Panther Console in favour of a revolutionary, 64-bit RISC-based games machine - a design that the company feels sure will be "the technology leader into the 21st Century".

While details of the new console, codenamed the Jaguar, are a closely-guarded secret, according to insiders the Reduced Instruction Set Computer technology involved could allow the Jaguar to run Virtual Reality games.

The announcement comes a few weeks after Atari UK's Managing Director Bob Gleadow stated that the Panther hardware was complete.  At a major press conference held last month, Gleadow implied that a pre-Christmas launch for the Panther was likely -  the final date would only be governed by the availability of game titles, he said.

Now all development work on Panther software has been called to a halt by Atari USA's President of Software Development, Larry Segal.

In a letter to the software houses that had Panther development systems, Segal explained that Atari would "forego" the Panther console in favour of "a spectacular game system that we feel will be capable of being the technology leader into the 21st Century".

At least six UK software houses were working on Panther software, but it seems none of them had actually completed a game when the decision to scrap the project came - less than six months before the scheduled International launch.

Segal is keen to maintain their support for the Jaguar: "Those of you who have placed time and energy behind the Panther will be compensated for your support," he wrote, "we have no intention of causing you financial distress... we will give you every opportunity to adopt your development schedules to this new system."

Apparently, Atari was developing the Panther and Jaguar consoles in parallel, but the Jaguar suddenly began to overtake it's stalemate.   According to Craig Erickson, Vice President of Software Development for Atari USA, Panther had reached the stage at which the casing was ready to go into production, the hardware was ready to go into production and the hardware engineering was complete.

Erickson explained: "The Jaguar was progressing faster than we anticipated and we asked ourselves why were we putting Panther out instead of Jaguar?  "At that point we decided to drop Panther and push all our resources behind Jaguar".

While a few Jaguar development systems are believed to be in the hands of major USA companies, the Jaguar console is unlikely to be publicly unveiled this year, according to an Atari spokesman.

From "New Computer Express" (weekly) June 1991


Image - Panther Development System (mouse over to open the lid)

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