Atari Lynx Jul 20, 2014 14:30:22 GMT
Post by The Laird on Jul 20, 2014 14:30:22 GMT
Released by Atari in 1989 the Lynx was actually designed by well known software publishers Epyx and designed by many of the same team as the Atari 8-bit computers and the Commodore Amiga.
It cost a massive (back then) £179.99 with California Games free which was double the price of its only competitor, the Nintendo Game Boy. It was criticised for its large size, 12 inches long, but praised for its superb colour screen and excellent speaker. The funniest thing is that when Atari ran a focus group on the machine before its release the majority of people favoured the large size as they felt they were getting more for their money!
Within a year the price dropped to £129.99 and not long after that the smaller more compact Lynx II was introduced to the market with a retail price of £89.99 without a game. The new model offered stereo sound, rubber handgrips, a better placed card slot (back instead of side), longer battery life and a backlight switch to save power when the machine was paused.
While often considered a failure by many the Lynx managed to sell close to 3 million units worldwide and did especially well in parts of Europe like the UK, Netherlands and France. It's commercial life ended in 1995 as Atari dropped all support to try and bolster its failing Jaguar console.
Due to its hardcore following the machine continued to be supported by Telegames for a further few years and is still being supported by Songbird Productions as well as a number of independent homebrew coders.
The biggest downfall of the Lynx was its lack of game releases but it does feature some of the best arcade conversions available on any console and arguably the best good to bad ratio of any console too. The Lynx hardware was so good that it remained the most powerful handheld on the market from its 1989 debut up until the release of the Game Boy Advance a full 13 years later!
While it used a custom version of the 8-bit 6502 CPU (same as the NES, C64 and PC Engine) running at 4mhz it had custom 16-bit hardware that included the following custom chips / abilities:
- A 16-bit blitter chip to speed up math calculations.
- A 4-Channel DAC stereo sound chip called "Mikey" which allowed sampled sound to played on any channel.
- 4096 colours of which 16 could be displayed per scanline with a resolution of 160 x 102
- 64k of RAM with game cards that went up to 512k in ROM size (2 meg is possible)
- The graphics chip "Suzy" was also capable of infinite hardware sprites, hardware scaling, rotation, panning, distortion, hardware scrolling and a frame rate of up to 75 fps.
The Sega Mega Drive and Super Nintendo (released 2 years later) didn't even have many of these features!
Here is a video about this ground breaking handheld console: