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Thread: Atari Falcon with ST color keyboard

  1. #1
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    Default Atari Falcon with ST color keyboard

    Recently I picked up two Atari Falcons for what I thought was a great price. The seller only had pics of one of them... it was one of those listing where it had 'inventory' and the cover pic was just one of the units. That one came as described. The other however appears to have the 'wrong' keyboard.. not the grey color keys but beige like the ST. I *have* seen a few Falcons like this.. but this isn't how some of them came, right? I know the end of production was a bit abrupt and there was a liquidator involved.. I'm wondering if some of the remaining parts were slapped together by 'factory's with whatever keyboard was at hand to make it a complete unit. Anyone know?

  2. #2
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    Seems plausible. Maybe it's a post liquidation unit that they Frankensteined together...

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    Did you pay 450$ apiece for them and buy them a week apart?

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    They were the same day, but yes.. that's probably them.

    I was a bit skeptical. There is an auction that finished not too long before with the exact same title as these two, and it went to $1600. Different state though. I figured for $450 it was worth chancing a bit. The seller ships to US only so I had to have them sent to a freight forwarder first, and they give pictures of everything they unwrap. The first one looks legit - grey keyboard, Falcon logo clearly visible. The second however I can't see the logo and the keyboard is the ST color version. So it's got me wondering if the guts are really Falcon or if this guy is playing games.

    I was hoping to sell one to make just enough to cover the other, but with the off color keyboard now I'm not so sure. I think the last one with wrong keyboard got around $700 or so.

  5. #5
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    Funny thing is I offered 600$ for both mega ste's, he declined. They sold at 400$/. Then they came back @ 425$, 1 sold. 400$ is about the going rate for a mega ste so there's no panic there. 450$, needless to say, is not the going rate for a Falcon. It seemed like 1 sold 2 Saturdays ago, then another this past Saturday. I would have bought 2 also.

  6. #6
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    Interesting. So he had three of them? I see in the ebay history only two - one of the two I bought and then one, as you said, from a week earlier.

    When I purchased mine, it was a single BIN auction with 2 units in inventory. I purchased one, then thought about it and went for the other. But it doesn't show both of those. I don't know if ebay lumps them in together.

    That said, he didn't mention the keyboard was incorrect on the second/third one. I don't know if that's worthy of a complaint given the price, but still a bummer. That said, after doing a bit of a zoom on the one semi decent photo the freight forwarder gave me, I can clearly see the multicolor Atari logo, so the case is Falcon at least.

  7. #7
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    They arrived!

    20191025_163759.jpg

    I'm kind of.. amazed, actually. For $450 each, I was certain something was going to be very wrong. But they are exactly as the seller suggested - fully working. I thought the deal might be going sideways initially because the second one did not match the picture and had the white ST color keyboard. However, on further research it appears this is a legit Falcon thing - before the familiar grey with dark gray keyboard Falcons, there was apparently another couple of iterations.. one in 'Sparrow' colours with red and yellow typeface keys, and then a middle one that used the ST colour keyboard and case, and was apparently used in trade shows, development, etc. Most Falcons seem to have a serial that starts with Y.. the 'ST' case one here starts with a B.

    As it turned out, the seller posted a *third* one, and I grabbed it because after seeing the white keyboard on the second one I was sure these had been too good to be true, and when they showed up they would not work, or be damaged, or something. But lo and behold, they aren't. I'm still wondering if the guts are true Falcon or not... still suspicious. But here is the boot screen - and they go into TOS. Gotta find a mouse and see what else I can learn. Don't really want to open them if I don't have to.

    20191025_164315.jpg

    Not sure what I'm going to do with them. I was hoping they would all be the same - and that I could sell all but one, to pay off my 'investment' and not be beheaded by my wife. But I wasn't counting on one or two of them being the rarer 'second' version. Now it's not going to be so easy.

    The third one arrived at MyUS and also appears to be a beige unit.
    Last edited by falter; October 25th, 2019 at 05:06 PM.

  8. #8

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    In the dying days of Atari, who knows what they were doing. I wonder if they aren't liquidation units sold by someone who got them as a settlement for unpaid debts, or sold by that company that bought the rights to sell them but they were sold in remainder cases instead of being placed in that custom machined rack they were hawking to music studios.

    Speaking of which, what are you planning on using them for? I'm sure there are music studios out there who would love to lay hands on one in good condition, if you want the one you sell to go to someone who will use it. They're known to this day as possibly the perfect MIDI sequencing computer, and for some it can't be emulated because it's the limitations that make it a useful tool, similar to people who still drive up prices for old synthesizers despite having software emulations.

  9. #9
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    TOS 4.0x by itself is multilanguage, the deskop language shown depends on the NVRAM setting. So it's quite easy to turn a Falcon from ENglish to Geramn to French to ... Anyhow the keyboard layout changes also, bit every langiage needs other prints on the keys. It is very common in this case to swap the Falcon keyboard to an easier to get 1040ST/STE keyboard in the prefered language. So the answer easily could be that the previous owner bought that Falcon from different country and swichted the language. This is a quite common task in the scene.

  10. #10
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    I did a bit more digging around and .. yeah, these appear to be earlier versions of the Falcon. ie. they were intentionally built this way. The stories differ but they are consistent in that this colour scheme came before the later gray Falcons we know. The case colour is clearly the ST color, not the light gray of the 'normal' Falcon, but all the cutouts for the Falcon ports are there, so it's not like someone shoehorned the guts into an ST case. This case was made this way on purpose. The serial numbers use a different prefix than the gray-keyboard Falcons - they start with a B rather than a Y. There's a story here. I did briefly find a site that suggested these were used for demonstration purposes, but I regret I've lost the link. I do have this from old-computers.com:

    "There are at least 3 types of 'ST' style Falcon, the first version was in an FX-1 type case (Complete with FX-1 keyboard, yellow lettering with red function key numbers), the second was like the machine here (In ST colouring) and the release machine (Lighter case than the FX-1, but still had the dark keys with all lettering in white)."

    This is a website with another Falcon - same 'ST' colour scheme as mine. http://www.atari-wiki.com/index.php/Atari_Falcon

    I wish I could find something more authoritative, but yeah, I don't think these are something some third party chucked together. These I think went before the gray Falcon, and were probably assembled this way by Atari.

    IMG_4699.jpg

    IMG_4702.jpg

    IMG_4700.jpg

    IMG_4701.jpg

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