Will Atari's Falcon Grab Home Video Buffs?

Former video-game king Atari Corp. is expecting a new, low-priced multimedia home computer dubbed the Falcon030 to revive its fortunes - and its balance sheet. In August, the Sunnyvale (Calif.) company announced a second-quarter loss of $39.7 million - its third consecutive quarterly loss - and said 10% of its remaining 500 workers will lose their jobs.

Now comes Falcon. It features two stereo speakers, two microphones, and a digital-signal processor that, in addition to reproducing stereo sound, will allow owners to plug in musical instruments. They'll also be able to hook up videotape recorders and tvs to the machine to add titles and computer-generated animation to their home videos. What's more, Falcons will be relatively inexpensive. A model with four megabytes of memory and a 65-megabyte hard drive will list for $1,399. Comparable multimedia IBM PCs normally start at around $2,000. However, Falcons can't use software written for the vast number of IBM and Apple Computer Inc. PCs around, and according to Atari, some advanced Falcon software, such as videotape editing, won't be available until next year.

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