Atari Falcon 030

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Atari Falcon 030
An Atari Falcon 030
Manufacturer: Atari Corporation
CPU : Motorola 68030 @ 16 MHz

Motorola DSP56001 @ 32 MHz

FPU (optional): Motorola 68882 @ 16 MHz
Published: October 1992
Posted: 1994
Storage: 1 ~ 14MB
Operating system: TOS 4.x / MultiTOS

The Atari Falcon 030 (alternative spelling Falcon030 ) was a home computer sold by Atari Corporation in 1992 .

Conceived as the successor to the 1040 STE , the Falcon was only sold in small numbers.



The Falcon had a Motorola 68030 CPU clocked at 16 MHz . In addition, he offered space for an optional FPU ( floating - coprocessor ) Motorola 68882 .

The 16 MHz processor of the Atari Falcon 030 was actually a 32 MHz version of the 68030 in all computers built, since Motorola could not deliver the slower version. This meant that resourceful hobbyists could quickly accelerate their computers to almost double. By replacing the quartz crystal , the main processor and DSP were even able to reach 50 MHz, while the system bus was accelerated and the graphics performance increased.

A special feature of the Falcon 030 is a digital signal processor of the Motorola 56001 type operated at 32 MHz . The DSP can be programmed completely independently of the CPU and made the Falcon very powerful, for example in audio processing.


The most popular version of the Falcon was delivered with 4 MB RAM . Models with 1 and 14 MB RAM were also provided.

In contrast to the Atari STE , the RAM cannot be expanded via SIMM slots, but is soldered onto its own plug-in card. Later circuit diagrams were published showing an upgrade with commercially available PS / 2 memory.


In addition to the screen resolutions ST-Low (320 × 200 pixels with 16 colors), ST-Medium (640 × 200 with 4 colors) and ST-High (640 × 400 pixels with 2 colors) familiar from the Atari ST , it also offered VGA ( 640 × 480 with 16 or 256 colors) and hi-color resolutions with 65536 colors, which were only available with limited resolution or as interlace mode due to the relatively slow video RAM access. All modes were represented by PAL / NTSC video signal on a TV screen, the higher resolutions but only through the interlaced ( Interlace is connected), the operating principle with flickering display. The graphics resolutions of the Falcon 030 could be increased by a software solution that appeared a little later and even achieved resolutions of 1280 × 960 pixels through a small hardware modification, which was a good value for the price in the early 1990s.


The computer was popular in recording studios because, unlike PCs, it had an integrated MIDI interface and a DSP processor that enabled hard disk recording in CD quality. In this role he was used until the end of the 90s.


  • Parallel port (25-pin DIN socket): For connecting printers
  • Modem / RS232 port (9-pin DIN socket): Often used to connect modems
  • MIDI in & MIDI out / through
  • Cartridge port: To be able to connect ROM expansion cards
  • SCSI-II with DMA (50-pin socket): For external hard drives, CD-ROM drives, scanners, etc.
  • LAN (mini-DIN socket): Unused serial interface. Compatible with Atari Mega STE and Atari TT .
  • Joystick ports (15-pin DIN socket): Compatible with the controllers of the Atari Jaguar
  • DSP port
  • internal IDE interface
  • CPU expansion bus: The expansion bus is used e.g. B. the upgrade card CT63 connected
  • Audio in / out
  • Video
  • antenna


ProController (left) and gray PowerPad (right)

By default, the Falcon with a 3.5-inch HD was floppy drive and an internal 2.5 inch ATA - Hard Drive delivered.

The controller pads of the Atari Jaguar could be connected to the joystick sockets , the standard pad was even available in gray / blue for a while.


Other vendors supplied expansions for the Falcon early on that increased the processor and DSP speeds (e.g. the Skunk32), used a faster CPU (e.g. 68040 ), increased the screen resolution or used to digitize video images could. Also in 2008 there was a handcrafted upgrade card with the CT-63, which offered a 68060 processor clocked up to 100 MHz and 512 MB RAM and thus increased the performance by a factor of 25.

operating system

The TOS 4.01 (later 4.02 and 4.04) was supplied as the operating system in the ROM, which is an extension of the older TOS versions to include functions for controlling the DSP and other new components. The GEM surface was also equipped with a 3D look.

Atari did not complete the new multitasking operating system MultiTOS on time and was therefore supplied separately on diskette . The kernel of MultiTOS is an evolution of MiNT , one originally from Eric R. Smith written Unix -like kernel as open source has been released. The abbreviation stood for MiNT is Not TOS . This kernel was then licensed by Atari, and from then on the abbreviation for MiNT is Now TOS . Atari then adapted the AES (see: Graphical Environment Manager ), i.e. the functionality of the graphical user interface, to the multitasking capability of the new kernel. However, the original MultiTOS did not prevail due to some inadequacies and slow response times ; instead, competing products from other manufacturers ( MagiC , N.AES) found widespread use in Germany.


Over 100 games have been released that ran on the Falcon, most of them as compatible Atari ST / STE / TT versions. The most famous of these are Bubble Bobble , Defender of the Crown , Dungeon Master , Elite , The Secret of Monkey Island , Ishar Series, Robinson's Requiem and Turrican 2. Pure Falcon games are about 25 known; mostly unknown games or prototypes, plus other fan and shareware games. The most famous games are Pinball Dreams , the racing simulation Vroom , the first first person shooter on the Atari Running and the RPG Towers II.

Further development

A variant of the Falcon 030 should be the so-called Microbox . It was originally planned as the actual Falcon 030. This variant is designed like a mini-tower, but was discarded due to the availability of the components and the higher costs. The differences are the real 32-bit data bus, a graphics chip with 256 colors and more performance. However, it only stayed with the prototype.

The German music software company C-LAB (see also: Emagic ) acquired the license rights for the construction and sale of the Atari Falcon at the beginning of the nineties, which was then named C-LAB-Falcon (versions MK-I, MK-II and MK -X) was still produced for some time as a computer for MIDI and hard disk recording, including technical improvements and accessory hardware.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Andy Hutchinson: Falcon Launched to the world . In: ST format . 39, October 1992, p. 24.

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