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A now disfunct, innovative british system design company - and the story of an underdog who didn't but did win, kinda. See also FOLDOC

(One of?) their first products was the Electron computer. It plugged into the television, had 16 KB of memory, and ran BASIC in ROM. You could load programs from cassette tape via a normal audio tape deck, or you could type them in. A floppy disk, even a harddrive, were available as insanely expensive expansion modules. The CPU was a 6502B, just slightly different from what powered the hugely successful Commodore64 home computer. Unfortunately, neither graphics nor sound capabilities could hold a candle to those of the Commodore64.

I had one of those.. sigh memories.. --AristotlePagaltzis

The next model was the Acorn BBC. Because they were British, schools in the UK used the BBC computers. Some schools in NewZealand followed suit. The BBC Model B also had a 6502 processor. This was probably mid-to-late 80's to early 90's.

After that was the Acorn Archimedes. They were very popular with some schools as they were the successor to BBC model B micros in a lot of classrooms before the rise of the PC. Their CPU was Acorn's own, later incredibly successful ARM chip. Their OS was called RiscOS, which had a GUI and was very well designed. Eventually, though, schools and the public started using the cheaper mass-produced drivel that still haunts us today.

I DTPed our Te Awamutu College school magazine on an Archimedes (A3000?) back when a GUI was seriously cool... --GreigMcGill

An attempt to counter the rising popularity of the then so-called "IBM compatibles" was called RiscPC? and ran the StrongARM series CPUs. These too ran RiscOS and had a novel system design consisting of modules. To update the hardware, you didn't have to open the case, you just added a new module just as you do to "update" your stereo system. Unfortunately...

In the end, Acorn Computers Ltd. was shut down (accompanied by much mourning in the connaissant geek community), as WinTel machines dominated the market and drove them out of business.

However, the CPU design was sourced out to the newly funded ARM Ltd., an IntellectualProperty only company that holds the rights to the StrongARM architecture. Even Intel have licensed it, and a huge market share of hand held and embedded devices nowadays run on StrongARM derivatives. So, in a way, "the king is dead - long live the king"...

Part of CategoryCompany and CategoryOldComputers

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