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TomCat TomCat - Japanese Logo - Katakana / Kanji

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A color vector flight simulator where the player chooses between a fixed-wing jet or a helicopter. This game was in the very early stages of development at Atari when the company went "supernova."

TomCat was produced by Atari in 1983.

Atari released 137 machines in our database under this trade name, starting in 1972. Atari was based in United States.

Other machines made by Atari during the time period TomCat was produced include: Fast Freddie, Gravitar, Dig Dug, Black Widow, Akka Arrh, Alpha 1, Arabian, Cloak & Dagger, Cloud 9, and Crystal Castles


Name TomCat
Developer Atari (United States)
Year 1983
Type Videogame
KLOV/MOG # 10146
Class Prototype
Genre Simulator
  • Orientation: Horizontal
  • Type: Vector
  • Color: Color
Conversion Class Atari Color Vector
# Simultaneous Players 1
# Maximum Players 1
Game Play Single
Control Panel Layout Single Player
  • Steering: X/Y-directional yoke with trigger
Sound Unamplified Mono (requires one-channel amp)
Cabinet Styles
  • Upright/Standard

Game Introduction

Work on this game began late in 1983. It was the next XY project after Star Wars, but it was almost immediately interrupted when the programmer was rescheduled to work on Firefox instead.

Most projects where started by putting together a core project team consisting of a Project Leader, Hardware Engineer, Programmer, and Technician. Sometimes the Programmer was also the Project Leader and sometimes there was more than one Programmer. Tomcat was different, however, since it was a research project. The plan was to develop the hardware and write some 3-D software to demonstrate its capabilities. After that, a team would be recruited to create a flight simulator game.

The game was begun using the Star Wars hardware. Greg Rivera, the lead Star Wars programmer (Norm Avellar was the other programmer), modified the Star Wars program to create software hooks so Jed Margolin could insert his own graphics.

Game Play

The player can choose between flying a fixed-wing jet and a helicopter. The universe shows a horizon line, a heads-up display, some simple objects on the ground to provide a reference, and a Battlezone tank (also on the ground).

There is also an enemy helicopter that came from the US Army version of Battlezone. The object was designed by Hans Hansen, but the programmer, Jed Margolin, did not get around to adding it a main rotor to it. It was given very rudimentary helicopter aerodynamics, but it did have full, three-axis control.

TomCat KLOV/IAM 5 Point User Score: 0.00 (0 votes)

Personal Impressions and Technical Impressions each account for half of the total score. Within the Personal Impressions category, Like carries a little more weight than the other factors.

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This game was the very last XY Game created at Atari. It was around this time that Atari went "supernova."

VAPS Arcade/Coin-Op TomCat Census

There are 14,896 members of the Video Arcade Preservation Society / Vintage Arcade Preservation Society, 9,528 whom participate in our arcade census project of games owned, wanted, or for sale. Census data currently includes 165,131 machines (6,927 unique titles).

Very rare - There are no known instances of this game owned by one of our active members.

Wanted - No active members have added this machine to their wish list.

Rarity and Popularity independently are not necessarily indications of value. [More Information]


Jed Margloin's first design used a new processor from National Semiconductor, the 16032, which had a 32-bit internal bus and a 16-bit external bus. Other members of the family had an 8-bit external bus or a 32-bit external bus.

Jed bought National Semiconductor's evaluation board and interfaced it to a Star Wars AVG board. The evaluation board had two serial ports. One went to a dumb terminal and the other was connected to the VAX. All of the commands from the dumb terminal were routed through the VAX before they went sent to the evaluation board. Because the VAX was almost always busy (i.e. slow), it would frequently take several seconds between typing a command and seeing it on the screen. It was a nightmare. There was also the small problem that there was no way to edit the command line, not even backspace. If you made a mistake you could delete the entire line and start over, that was all. But despite these awkward conditions, Jed did get the system working.

For sounds, Jed incorporated the system requested by the newly formed Sound Group which had a 6502, two Pokeys, the Texas Instruments TMS5220 speech synthesizer that was used in Star Wars, and a Yamaha FM Synthesizer chip set.


Additional References (logged in members often see more)

eBay Listings

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