Acorn Computers

Acorn computers aren't really diffused here in Italy: actually, I guess that they are not diffused anywhere except (relatively speaking) England, where they are projected, built and sold (especially to schools). This page just contains a brief introduction to Acorn computers, more informations can be found around the Web (see my links page).

Anyway, Acorn computers are great (a very objective and constructive comment, I admit! :-).
Since 1988, Acorn Computers Ltd. produces and sells RISC based personal computers at a (relatively) low cost. The first RISC computer produced by Acorn was the Archimedes, then in 1991 (?) they completely dropped the Archimedes name and started producing the A5000, A4000, A3010, etc.
In 1994 a new exciting product was released: the Risc PC. It introduced new concepts (not only relatively to the Acorn world) such as Dual Open Bus, case expansion, easy processor upgrade, etc.

The RISC chip used in every Acorn computer is the ARM: originally developed by Acorn for the first Archimedes computer the ARM (formerly Acorn RISC Machine) chip is now developed by ARM Ltd. (Advanced RISC Machine), a joint-venture between Acorn, Apple and VLSI. The original ARM2 processor run at 8Mhz but now Risc PCs are supplied with ARM6 at 30Mhz. ARM7 at 33Mhz or 50Mhz will be hopefully available soon, but the recent agreement between ARM and DEC for the production of a new chip (StrongARM) is very promising for a fast future!

The proprietary Operating System of Acorn computers is RISC OS. It is multitasking and window based, it features drag-and-drop, applications interaction and integration, easy-to-use and resposive graphic interface, fully configurable environment, etc.

Acorn computers are not PCs: they don't run 'natively' MS-DOS games, nor they run Windoze. Anyway Acorn developed a PC Emulator that allows to run the 'basic' DOS software (at a very low speed) and only recently a Risc PC 486 second processor card has been released; using this PC Card Risc PC users can now run PC-Compatible software at full 486 speed.

I'll not speak about Online Media here (a company born from Acorn itself to develop STB technology) since I don't know much about it...

At the beginning of September 1995 the Acorn Computers Group restructured into two main divisions, Acorn Education and Applied Risc Technologies (ART). Apparently the aim of the former is to sell computers to the schools (the main traditional Acorn market) while the latter should develop ARM-based technologies (both hardware and software).

I hope that what I wrote above is correct (this is what I remember, I don't have any 'official' document here now), if it isn't let me know!
For more detailed (and correct!) informations about Acorn you can read Acorn's own WWW pages.

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© Copyright Sergio Monesi, 1997-1999.
Last updated: 16 Jul 1999