[ Retro GIF of the Week ] Atari Jaguar Debut Photo

February 22nd, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Official Press Photo Atari Jaguar Console 1993 Retro GIFClick to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ]

Just two days ago, Sony announced the PlayStation 4 at a press event in New York. It reminded me of the last time I eagerly awaited a new console launch. That would be way back in 1993 with the introduction of the Atari Jaguar (check out the original press release at that link).

I was a huge Atari fan at that time, and I was also very active on the "GO ATARI" forum on CompuServe. From that forum, I downloaded this early Jaguar press image in 1993. It's an official press image created and uploaded to CompuServe by Atari Corp. itself — quite possibly the very first one.

I did end up getting a Jaguar for my birthday in 1994, and that was one of the best birthdays of my life (Super Metroid also arrived that day). The Jaguar, sadly, did not live up to its promise. But it was fun cheering for the "Atari team" as it took on the Nintendo juggernaut in the early 1990s.

(The Jaguar was one heck of a Doom machine, though. I played Doom on it more than any other platform. And Temptest 2000!)

GIF Origin Platform

The image's irregular 469 x 337 dimensions (not a standard display resolution, common to windowing systems) and 24-bit color resolution (the size of the palette the image's colors were drawn from) in conjunction with a September 1993 date lead me to believe this image was likely created on a Macintosh.

Atari computers like the TT030 and Falcon did not support 24-bit palettes by default (12- and 18-bit, respectively), but it would have been possible to install a graphics card in a TT030 that did support it.

I'd shy away from an IBM PC compatible, because that meant Windows 3.1 in 1993, and you'd need a special card to support a 24-bit palette (VGA was 18-bit), which was still slightly rare in 1993, but not unheard of by any means. So it's possible.

Ah, image nerdery.

[ Wondering what a GIF is? Read the introduction to this column. ]

Retro GIF of the Week Fact Box
Source File Name: JAGUAR.GIF
Oldest Known File Date: September 2, 1993 - 4:57:02 PM Eastern
Source File Format: GIF - 87a (non-interlaced)
Dimensions: 469 x 337 pixels (irregular)
Color Depth: 8-bit (256 color)
Color Resolution
(palette size):
24-bit (16,777,216 colors)
Origin Platform: Unknown
Derived From: Scanned photograph
Creation Date: 1993
Artist: Atari Corp.
If you know more about the origin of this image, please leave a comment.


7 Responses to “[ Retro GIF of the Week ] Atari Jaguar Debut Photo”

  1. Josh Renaud Says:

    I love the GIF! Like you, Benj, I was a huge Atari fan at the time.

    I had just begun BBSing, and was becoming aware of Atari's plight — and its *promise*, in the form of the Jaguar.

    It's hard to believe that this December will be the 20th anniversary of the Christmas when my parents surprised me and my brother with an Atari Jaguar. We had not been expecting it (our computers and game systems had always been second-hand), and it remains a great memory.

    FWIW, I wrote up a piece about it last December: http://breakintochat.com/blog/2012/12/17/1993-christmas-we-got-atari-jaguar/

  2. arlandi Says:

    i always wonder, never owning a Jaguar myself, what are those extra buttons do? any games that used them?

  3. SirFatty Says:

    I remember being in an outlet mall back in the 1996 walking past a KB Toys (I believe) and seeing the pallet of Jaguars for $50 each. I kept on walking. About a week later, I called them to see if there were any left so I might get one. Not a one had sold. That made my decision for me.

  4. Benj Edwards Says:

    Arlandi,

    Lots of games used the numeric keypad at the bottom of the Jaguar controller. Doom used it in a very effective way; the game shipped with a plastic overlay printed with pictures of the various guns you could use in the game. Pushing each picture/button would change to that weapon, among other options. (Many early games came with overlays as well).

    Some games used the numeric keypad buttons to change camera angles or set sound or music options.

    Later, the Jaguar Pro Controller mapped its extra buttons to some of those original numeric keypad buttons electronically.

  5. Adrian Says:

    Wanted to point out that in 1993 the "special cards" you mention weren't that special anymore. There were several popular SVGA cards out for Windows 3.1 which supported true-color 24bit pallets aren't weren't expensive. Starting with the Cirrus Logic GD-5420 … this chip didn't have any 24bit display modes but still had a 24bit DAC. The 5422 brought 640×480 at 24bit and 1024×768 at 16bit. Later chips in this series added hardware blitter which accelerated scrolling in these high color mods greatly. I ended up getting one of these cards with the blitter in 1993 and when Linux and X-Windows came to PCs that year I was amazing my friends with full window dragging. I was just a college kid with a 386-SX20 and I recall that CL card wasn't that expensive at all.

    Anyway, other cards like this were available from ATI (VGA Wonder XL24 in 1992), Trident, Tseng Labs and many others… having just plain VGA wasn't common anymore because by then SVGA monitors were plentiful and people wanted to use the higher resolution available.

  6. Benj Edwards Says:

    You're right Adrian. Your comment is the kind of thing I've been hoping for when I post these GIFs. I have been planning to build a graphics card capability database that includes date of release, price, and other info to help date certain GIF files. Would you like to help me do it? We can comb old media like Infoworld for prices and dates.

    I'd be happy for any other volunteers as well.

  7. Computerklassiker Says:

    I still love to play on the Atari Jaguar - especially Tempest 2000 …

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