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Atari Jaguar CD

The Atari Jaguar CD or Jag CD was a CD-ROM peripheral for the Atari Jaguar game console.

Late in the Jaguar's life span, Atari finally released the long-promised CD-ROM unit. The device sat atop the Jaguar console, plugging into the cartridge slot, the physical design was cruelly compared to a commode. The drive had it's own cartridge slot to allow cartridge games to be played without removing the CD drive. The unit featured a double speed (2x) drive and built-in VLM (Virtual Light Machine) software. The VLM, which provided a sophisticated light show when a music CD was played in the machine, were as popular among buyers as the games themselves. Packaged with the drive were two games (Blue Lightning and Vid Grid), a music CD (Tempest 2000 soundtrack), and a demo disc (for Myst).

Thanks to an unorthodox access method, the Jag CD games could hold as much as 790MB. The designers chose to ignore the established CD-ROM formats and instead used the same format as used in audio CDs. While allowing for dramatically more storage on the disc, this meant error correction had to be done on the fly by the drive hardware.

The drive was manufactured for Atari by Phillips in the United States. The initial shipment was 20,000 units. Comments from Atari a few weeks after the unit was launched stated that the entire inventory had been sold, and that another batch would be ordered. However, with the JT Storage reverse takeover looming just a few months away, it is possible that those 20,000 drives were the only units ever produced.

Jaguar CD-ROM games: