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ANTIC The Atari 8-bit Podcast

hosts: Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold
twitter: @AtariPodcast
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Mar 12, 2022

Tom Zimmerman, AMY chip

Tom Zimmerman worked at Atari from 1982-1984 where he was on the digital audio research team in Atari's Corporate Research Lab in Sunnyvale. There he worked on the AMY chip — a next-generation audio chip. Tom, one of four AMY team members, wrote the 8051 code to control the TTL prototype of the chip. The chip was never released.

AMY, which stands for Additive Musical sYnthesis, was originally intended to be part of the Rainbow chipset, which was the core of Atari's next generation of 16-bit microcomputers. Those computers were never finished. Then, the AMY chip was announced to be the centerpiece of the Atari 65XEM, an Atari 8-bit computer with advanced sound capabilities. A prototype of the 65XEM was shown at the 1985 Consumer Electronics Show, but ultimately it was another computer that didn't make it to market.

Also: in 1982 Tom filed a patent for a “Data Glove,” a glove with optical sensors to measure the bend of the wearer's fingers. He turned down a $10,000 offer from Atari to buy the rights to the Data Glove. The product would eventually end up at Nintendo, where it became the Nintendo Power Glove.

This interview took place on March 7, 2022.

65XEM info at AtariMuseum

AMY chip at AtariMuseum

AMY chip info at AtariMax

AMY chip at Wikipedia

Rainy Day Activities for the Atari book by Nancy Mayer

ANTIC Interview - Dale Yocum

ANTIC Interview 199 - Bob Alkire and Steve Saunders, Rainbow GPU

Rainbow chipset documentation

Tom on AtariAge

Video version of this interview