For many years the debate on whether or not there was an actual agreement with Atari & Amiga for the rights to sell an Atari version of the Amiga Lorraine codenamed within Atari as “Mickey” has finally been found. On November 21, 1983 Atari and Amiga signed an agreement. This agreement allowed Atari access to the Amiga computer system in development in exchange for an undisclosed sum of money from Atari to Amiga for assistance in the development of the system. Jay Minor an ex-Atari engineer who was responsible for the teams that built the Atari 2600 and the Atari 400/800 computers was in charge of the Amiga “Lorraine” computer system. As part of the agreement Atari would gain access to the Amiga chipset and design its own version of the Amiga computer codenamed “Mickey” (Atari at the time was big on Disney with several deals in place, so its assumed Disney codenames were used), “Minnie” would be a 256K memory card. As part of the agreement, Atari would sell “Mickey” as a video game system with no keyboard for 1 year. After that, Atari could then sell a keyboard add-on and sell full blown versions of “Mickey” to the public.
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- Has a Motorola 68000 Main Processor and 128K bytes of random Access memory. Has a detachable keyboard.
- Can read Apple compatible disk text files.
- Can be programmed in BASIC, FORTH or Assembler. BASIC and FORTH are built Into the basic system.
- Lorraine BASIC is compatible with APPLESOFT, but adds commands which can take advantage of the powerful new features of this computer.
- Can handle a large number of different kinds of controllers, which in turn allows for a wide variety of methods of data input
- Has four Independently controllable sound generators. Each of these generators may be programmed to produce a wide variety of tones and kinds of waveforms. Many different kinds of musical effects are possible.
- Can produce 40 columns by 25 lines of text
- Can produce 80 columns by 25 lines of colored text on a video monitor without adding any extra-cost 80-column cards. Can mix multi-colored graphics and muiti-colored text on the same display.
- Can produce dozens of easily controlled multi-colored moveable objects called “sprites” on the screen
- Can define one or two indepently moveable normal or hich, resolution graphics planes called “playfields”. Up to 4096 color choices for each picture element for normal resolution playfields, or up to 16 color choices for each picture element for a high resolution playfield.
- Can define whether some of the sprites are more important than some of the playfields, so that if one object is supposed to be “in front of” another, it will appear that way on the display. It also can sense and report collisions between the sprites and the playfields or between individual sprites.
- Can rapidly move and color-fill graphic shapes.
- Has a special-effects coprocessor which can produce multiple part-way-through-the-display changes in the system operating mode.
July 19, 1983 — Page 1
LORRAINE is a third generation, low cost, high performance, graphics and sound system for state of the art videogame and personal computer applications.
The system includes three proprietary, custom ICs controlled by a Motorola 68000 32/16 bit microprocessor. These chips provide extraordinary color graphics on a Standard TV or on an RGB color monitor, with resolution and depth to display coin-op quality, first person video games, cartoons, low resolution photographs, or up to 80 character screens. The sound circuits can duplicate complex waveforms on each of four channels, matching commercial synthesizers in quality.
The graphics hardware provides a fully bit-mapped image of up to 320H X 200V pixels each, six bits deep for a TV or up to 640H X 40OVpixels each four bits deep for an RGB monitor. Each pixel selects a color value from a 32 entry color palette providing 12 bits of resolution including separate control of up three aspects of the color signal: Hue, Intensity, and Saturation. The hardware supports slicing the bit map into two levels of playfield plus background, with automatic priority overlay of the playfields. In addition, the hardware supports eight programmable “sprite processors”, each providing an arbitrary number of images 16 pixels wide, arbitrarily tall, and two bits deep which can be rapidly positioned anywhere on the screen with selectable overlay priority. Pairs of such processors can be “attached” providing 4 bits of color depth for each sprite image. The resulting screen image can be scrolled s in both the vertical and horizontal directions.
The color depth of the image may vary from place to place on the screen. Saving both memory space and bandwidth in those portions of the image not requiring many simultaneous colors. In addition, two of the six color planes may be used in the “hold and control” mode to select between normal indexing of the color palette or direct setting of one of the color components (Hue, Intensity, or Saturation) while preserving the other two components from the pixel immediately to the left. The hold and control mode allows the construction of very detailed images involving either grey scale shading, pastel hightlighting, rainbow color effects or any combination of the three. The Display Instruction Processor (described below) may also be used to change the color palette on the fly.
LORRAINE supports hardware detection of “collisions” involving either of the playfield images and each of the 4 sets of attachable sprites. For purposes of collision detection, each of the playfield “objects” may be further refined, indicating that only collisions with a given color or excluding a given color are to be detected. The collision accumulator can be polled and cleared at any time, allowing the detection of separate collisions in different portions of the image.
LORRAINE includes a hardware “Bit-Blit” co-processor, which may be used to create and move several dozen additional objects in the bit map each frame time, saving and restoring the background as necessary. The Blitter also provides hardware support for line drawing and polygon filling functions From a personal computer perspective, the Blitter provides a generalized hardware capacity for “desk-top” window management, easily surpassing the software mechanisms underlying such systems as the Apple LISA (TM).
Each LORRAINE audio channel plays an “audio map” of arbitrary length with frequency and volume set separately. The audio maps consist of 8 bit “delta” samples describing the waveform to be produced. Each map array be “played” at a sampeling rate of up to 30 KHz, or any slower rate selectable with fine resolution. Left alone, each channel automatically repeats its audio map an arbitrary number of times, making the generation of sustained tones a trivial task involving very little memory. Since each map describes an arbitrary waveforrn a three or four note musical chord can easily be generated by a single channel. LORRAINE produces stereo sound output, normally by summing pairs of audio channels. Alternatively one audio channel of each pair me be configured to modulate the other channel both by amplitude and frequency. Since the modulating channel may be sampled at a rate distinct from the normal channel, envelope functions and frequency modulation synthesis effects are easy to achieve.
Frame synchronization, control register updates, sprite repositioning and automatic color palette and audio channel updates can all be performed by LORRAINE’s programmable Display instruction processor. The DIP acts as yet another co-processor, freeing the 68OOO to execute program logic.
July 19, 1983 — Page 3
Other built-in I/O includes a keyboard controller, two Atari ™ compatible game controller with trakball/mouse logic, a serial port to support a modem, and a mini-floppy disc controller.
The standard configuration includes 128K bytes of graphics/audio/general purpose RAM and 64K bytes of resident firmware ROM. LORRAINE may be cartridge extended with up to 256K bytes of additional ROM or RAM. In addition, all 68000 data, address and control lines are accessible, allowing LORRAINE to be integrated with a wide variety of memory, peripheral, and bus-mastering devices.
LORRAINE includes both high and low-level support for graphics and audio synthesis. Particular emphasis has been placed on convenient high-performance access to the hardware for video game applications. LORRAINE will be packaged with a general purpose operating system, a BASIC interpreter, a FORTH interpreter, and several general purpose utilities.