(Note: Click on the image for a larger view. I also describe this machine in a YouTube video)
Acorn Computers scored a huge hit with the BBC Microcomputer but Acorn didn't stop there. During the 1980s they had been quietly working their own microprocessors and by 1987 they were ready to build a whole new range of desktops around them. These were the Archimedes models and the CPUs they used had a RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) design. As a family, the chips are known as ARM processors.
Acorn had hoped the new machines, based on this very fast processor and sporting a cool graphical user interface, would offer serious competition to other machines such as the ubiquitous IBM and IBM-clones, Macintoshs, Amigas and Atari STs. It didn't happen but they did manage to grab a niche market in British, Ireland, New Zealand and Australian schools, thanks in part to Acorn's deep educational penetration with the BBC Microcomputer (at least in the U.K.).
Although the Acorn line of desktop computers eventually fizzled in the early 1990's, they are historically significant. Why? Because ARM processors went onto great things, today being found in the majority of mobile devices and many other electronic gadgets. Because of this legacy I decided I needed a representative of RISC technology in my collection.
Although Acorn's early RISC models were named Archimedes, later ones were simply represented with an A and a number. The one I've acquired is the A4000, released in 1992. It was one of the last in the line. It's a snazzy, well-cared-for unit sporting an 80MB HD and 4 MB RAM. Ethernet is also fitted. What's more it takes a standard PC VGA screen! It also came complete with a couple of user guides. Fantastic!
It's nice to play with a fast responsive ROM-based graphical user interface (RISCOS 3.11) of the era that is neither Windows 3.1 or Macintosh's System 7!
Update: The Acorn 4000 is longer with me. A new owner is enjoying the RISC magic!
Want to know more about this micro? Google is your friend.
This page last edited 12th April, 2021