It’s 1993. The Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis are warring over territory. The industry is growing and a name from the past aims to recapture what it once owned. The tactic? Raw power. The play? Hail Mary. The player? Atari. Atari made one last comeback attempt into the console industry with a machine that was supposed to be the most powerful ever. The Atari Jaguar was said to be a 64-bit machine, but some say Atari used fuzzy math to come up with that number. Out of the Jaguar’s five processors, two were 32-bit working in unison.
One big problem the Jaguar faced was that it used the same 16-bit Motorola 68000 processor that the Sega Genesis used. The Jaguar was designed to use this processor for only minor tasks, like checking controller ports. However, since many programmers were already familiar with the 68000, being that it was the CPU in the Genesis, they sometimes opted to use only that processor instead of
the more powerful processors named “Tom” and “Jerry.” The result? Despite the claims of 64-bits some games ended up looking 16-bit, which undermined Atari’s sales pitch. Atari used the tagline “Do the Math” in association with the 64-bit number being thrown around. A common joke around the time was that the players had to do the math because the Jaguar couldn’t. However, the 64-bit advertising platform may not have been a lie. There are components used in the machine that qualify as 64-bit.
And nobody has officially established what is required in the architecture to accurately define a system as a #-bit. However, there is still some debate whether the Jaguar meets the standard of 64-bits.
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