The Atari 65XEM

(and the AMY-1 Chip)


 The Atari 65XEM Personal Computer System.    This unreleased computer was a standard Atari 65XE computer fitted with a special  Audio Processor called "AMY"   Shown at the 1985 CES, the 65XEM was touted as having remarkable capabilities for sound/voice synthesis.

 The AMY Sound Processor was originally a chip designed for newer high end computer systems in 1983 in the Advanced Technologies Group (also referred to as the Atari Corporate Research Lab) in Sunnyvale, CA.     AMY was part of a new chipset called "Rainbow." The graphics portion of the chipset consisted of two chips called Silver and Gold.    Together these chips created a formidable computer system capable of graphics and sound rivaling many computers which came out years later.   Unfortunately these computers would never see the light of day due to the sale of Atari in 1984.

 AMY was demonstrated in 1983 performing a demonstration of a Female Opera singer, then on the fly was instructed to perform the same opera in a Male voice.
 
 

 Seeing the potential of this new audio chip, Atari's chief engineer - Shiraz Shivji intended to implement it into the new "RBP" projrect.  "RBP" was the acronym for "Rock Bottom Price" and was to be a new high end 16 bit computer system that would rival the Apple Macintosh but would cost under $1,000 for a color version of the system.  With a very demanding deadline schedule to have a working demonstration system readied in only 5 months after the purchase of Atari by the Tramiels the AMY processor's viability was in doubt so it was quickly removed from the Atari ST specifications and replaced with a Yamaha sound procoessor.   The AMY chip was now slated for use in the 65XE series computer which was a direct replacement for the Atari 800XL computer.  It is unknown why the AMY chip ran into issues nor why it was contracted or sold out to S&S of Milwaukee.

 The AMY chip and technologies wound up in the hands of a Milwaukee based audio design house called Sight & Sound.     The company was able to not only decipher the workings of the AMY, but created a newer and more powerful version which they intended to market.      However Atari suddenly reappeared on the scene and initiated a law-suit that apparently was so frightening that many of the former S&S employees that have been interviewed for the research on the AMY chip would only talk under anonymity.       The AMY chip, its technology and its enhanced replacement would not only never be used by S&S, but Atari never utilized the technology either.    The designs, equipment and chips languished in a warehouse until 1998 when the company was liquidated and everything was sold off or destroyed.
 

 One of the original programmers of the AMY chips software was Jack Palevich (who earlier had wrote a game called Dandy as part of the APX (Atari Program Exchange, a division of Atari that published high quality software from independent programmer), which was an amazing D&D type game that Atari would later base its Atari Gauntlet franchise on.    John also did Atari Dark Chambers which was another Dandy variant for the Atari home consoles ) and some of his original software still exists on some demonstration and development disks that came with this 65XEM prototype.    This history is being actively researched as this time and hopefully more information will be released as it is uncovered.

 

AMY-1 CHIP

DESIGN SPECIFICATIONS

(Adobe PDF Format)

 

AMY CHIP NETLIST

 

AMY DEMO (In Forth)