Linked by Kroc Camen on Mon 26th Jan 2009 11:28 UTC
RISC OS The incredible pagetable.com continues to erupt historical joy with the conversion of "Archimedes Operating System - A User's Guide" to PDF. This 320 page PDF of the book, originally published in 1991 "gives you a real insight into the micro's inner workings. The book is applicable to any model of Archimedes whether running the Arthur or RISC OS Operating Systems."
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Corrections
by memson on Mon 26th Jan 2009 14:53 UTC
memson
Member since:
2006-01-01

Archie's ran in 24bit mode.

The basic was built in to the ROM and was fully integrated into the OS. You could write GUI apps with it, and it had a full ARM assembler built in (so you could embed ARM assembler in to your BASIC.)

The BBC emulator was an application (on floppy) and was "okay", but the sound emulation was pants.

I doubt the Archie would have handled the Internet. It used a proprietry networking stack ("ECONET") that was based on the same standard as the BBC Micro. I don't think ethernet made it to the Archie till RiscPC's, and then Acorn was living on borrowed time by that point anyway. Econet was a token ring set up and interoperability between the rings was limited to say the least. It was more designed for classroom networking and was sloooow as heck.

Mouse was horrible. It used 3 buttons to achieve what the Amiga did in two. It's also a PITA, because something like an A7000 is cripples (as it uses PS/2 mouse poret instead of the proprierty Archie port) because it requires a non standard 3 button PS/2 mouse.

Arthur only existed for about a year. I remember seeing it in 1988/1989, but the ROMS had all been upgraded to RISCOS 2 by the time I used an Archie in ernest (about a year later.)

The Archie had pretty basic video capabilities. 256 Colours was the highest mode most A3xx and A4xx machines did - most people ran in 16 colour mode too, because you ended up in Mode 13 on a lot of the earlier models. Chunky beyond belief. The A5000 might have done a higher count, I forget. My Sixth Form mainly had A310's and A410's.

Task bar - debatable. People always claim it was the Archie that invented it, but Next came up with the Dock at about the same time... more wishful thinking on the part of Acorn fanboys, I think :-))

Yes, I used them. Yes I own one still. No, I'm not sad they went away.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Corrections
by steve_s on Mon 26th Jan 2009 15:35 UTC in reply to "Corrections"
steve_s Member since:
2006-01-16

Just being a pedant here.... but....

Archie's ran in 24bit mode.

Not quite. The ARM chip was a 32bit processor, but early versions only supported 26bit addressing. This kind of addressing limitation was not unheard of. Later ARM chips could support full 32bit addressing, however this was not entirely code-compatible, and RISC OS under Acorn never supported this.

I doubt the Archie would have handled the Internet.

I know many people that connected to the internet using their Archimedes, both using modems and over ethernet.

It used a proprietry networking stack ("ECONET") that was based on the same standard as the BBC Micro.

True - the default networking option was Econet. This was at a time when ethernet had not really taken off in widespread desktop use. The use of Econet meant that Archimedes machines could be plugged into existing BBC Micro networks.

I don't think ethernet made it to the Archie till RiscPC's, and then Acorn was living on borrowed time by that point anyway.

There were various podule options available to add ethernet to machines before the RiscPC.

Mouse was horrible. It used 3 buttons to achieve what the Amiga did in two. It's also a PITA, because something like an A7000 is cripples (as it uses PS/2 mouse poret instead of the proprierty Archie port) because it requires a non standard 3 button PS/2 mouse.

I liked the mouse myself. There was a clear distinction to the function of the buttons (Select, Menu, and Adjust) when on most other systems nobody knew what anything besides the left button was for. I'd argue that the Amiga didn't manage the same with two buttons, since the Amiga had menu bars whilst the Archimedes had none, using pop-up menus exclusively instead.

The Archie had pretty basic video capabilities. 256 Colours was the highest mode most A3xx and A4xx machines did - most people ran in 16 colour mode too, because you ended up in Mode 13 on a lot of the earlier models. Chunky beyond belief. The A5000 might have done a higher count, I forget. My Sixth Form mainly had A310's and A410's.

Yeah - 256 colours was the limit. They were a fixed selection too in those screen modes. The actual full colour palette was 4096 colours, and some bright folks did write software to do the same kind of thing that Amiga HAM modes did, i.e. changing the defined colours for the screenmode on the fly during screen rendering. That was a brutal hack.

There was at least one very expensive podule that gave full 24bit colour that one could use with early Archimedes machines.

24bit colour didn't become generally accessible until the VIDC20 chip was made - I think the RiscPC was the first to get this.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Corrections
by memson on Mon 26th Jan 2009 16:19 UTC in reply to "RE: Corrections"
memson Member since:
2006-01-01

Just being a pedant here.... but....

"Archie's ran in 24bit mode.

Not quite. The ARM chip was a 32bit processor, but early versions only supported 26bit addressing. This kind of addressing limitation was not unheard of. Later ARM chips could support full 32bit addressing, however this was not entirely code-compatible, and RISC OS under Acorn never supported this.
"

Ack, you're right! 26bit mode! But, the OS was 26bit. It was incapable of running in 32bit mode till well after Acorn folded in to ARM/PACE, as you mention.


"I doubt the Archie would have handled the Internet.

I know many people that connected to the internet using their Archimedes, both using modems and over ethernet.
"

To qualify "at the time". Podules were not available for every model. In fact, didn't the more consumer oriented modles used a different style podule? ISTR the A3x00 models did, at any rate. "Mini" podule rings a bell.

"It used a proprietry networking stack ("ECONET") that was based on the same standard as the BBC Micro.

True - the default networking option was Econet. This was at a time when ethernet had not really taken off in widespread desktop use. The use of Econet meant that Archimedes machines could be plugged into existing BBC Micro networks.
"

Let's be realistic here. Schools had a hard time justifying rewiring and changing their infasructure and pay the high costs of the podule Ethernet modules for 3+ year old Archies (circa 93), when the IBM PC clones cost about the same as before mentioned podules and had higher specs (okay, debatable.. but on paper.) Throwing in "modern OS" and "business orientated hardware" and it was a closed case. The Arc never made it past the "school" image.

"I don't think ethernet made it to the Archie till RiscPC's, and then Acorn was living on borrowed time by that point anyway.

There were various podule options available to add ethernet to machines before the RiscPC.
"

To Clarify "as a build option". It was all third party as I remember it.

I liked the mouse myself. There was a clear distinction to the function of the buttons (Select, Menu, and Adjust) when on most other systems nobody knew what anything besides the left button was for. I'd argue that the Amiga didn't manage the same with two buttons, since the Amiga had menu bars whilst the Archimedes had none, using pop-up menus exclusively instead.


No, the Amiga's menu bar popped up when you used the second button, much the same way as the Arc's menu button. "Adjust" was pretty much pointless. When you've been used to the simplicity of the Amiga implementation, adding buttons seems pointless. (The Amiga is, of course, excessive, because 1 is the correct number of buttons on a mouse.)

Yeah - 256 colours was the limit. They were a fixed selection too in those screen modes. The actual full colour palette was 4096 colours, and some bright folks did write software to do the same kind of thing that Amiga HAM modes did, i.e. changing the defined colours for the screenmode on the fly during screen rendering. That was a brutal hack.


I remember rendering HAM images on an Archie (porn IIRC), but it was always dithered.

I remember trying to use the C compiler on the Arc and having to hack the filesystem to be able to have files with '.' in their paths (something about making sub directories to handle the dot..) All because ADFS used the '.' as Windows uses '\' and Unix uses '/'.

The only thing I'd miss is the BASIC. Powerful and simple to use. The rest I could live without :-)

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Corrections
by helf on Mon 26th Jan 2009 16:44 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Corrections"
helf Member since:
2005-07-06

(The Amiga is, of course, excessive, because 1 is the correct number of buttons on a mouse.)


I do hope you are being sarcastic ;)

Unless you are in an environment where you can use just the keyboard, I HATE having to use key modifiers with the mouse. Just give me the damn buttons I need in one spot, under one hand.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Corrections
by steve_s on Mon 26th Jan 2009 21:25 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Corrections"
steve_s Member since:
2006-01-16

To qualify "at the time". Podules were not available for every model. In fact, didn't the more consumer oriented modles used a different style podule? ISTR the A3x00 models did, at any rate. "Mini" podule rings a bell.

Yeah, the A3000 introduced the mini-podule, however all Archimedes-type machines supported either full-size or mini-podules. The only exception to that being the A4 - Acorn's laptop.

"True - the default networking option was Econet. This was at a time when ethernet had not really taken off in widespread desktop use. The use of Econet meant that Archimedes machines could be plugged into existing BBC Micro networks.

Let's be realistic here. Schools had a hard time justifying rewiring and changing their infasructure and pay the high costs of the podule Ethernet modules for 3+ year old Archies (circa 93), when the IBM PC clones cost about the same as before mentioned podules and had higher specs (okay, debatable.. but on paper.) Throwing in "modern OS" and "business orientated hardware" and it was a closed case. The Arc never made it past the "school" image.
"
Quite. For schools, initially Econet was a great choice given their existing BBC Micro infrastructure. (For those that don't know, Econet was essentially Acorn's equivalent of Apple's LocalTalk.) Acorn clearly stuck with Econet for far too long, and it was a mistake to not include Ethernet by default on the RiscPC.

You're right that Arc never really made it past schools. They made a few inroads into UK magazine publishing for a brief while, and rather late in the day they had the definitive killer-app for music publishing, Sibelius. Frankly though, those markets were tiny, and it's probably fortunate they didn't do better since the OS was crap.

"There were various podule options available to add ethernet to machines before the RiscPC.

To Clarify "as a build option". It was all third party as I remember it.
"
Not all third party - Acorn produced quite a few ethernet adaptors of one form or another - however certainly never built-in. As I said above, big mistake.

No, the Amiga's menu bar popped up when you used the second button, much the same way as the Arc's menu button. "Adjust" was pretty much pointless. When you've been used to the simplicity of the Amiga implementation, adding buttons seems pointless. (The Amiga is, of course, excessive, because 1 is the correct number of buttons on a mouse.)

In my defence, I only rarely used Amigas, and even rarer still used desktop apps... ;)

Adjust mostly made sense on RISC OS, but in my experience most users struggled to understand it, and so the button for them was redundant.

I remember rendering HAM images on an Archie (porn IIRC), but it was always dithered.

I only remember a few demos doing HAM-type things, and one game. The nature of the graphics chip made HAM a lot harder on the Archie than the Amiga, since the programmability of the palette on 256 colour modes was limited.

The only thing I'd miss is the BASIC. Powerful and simple to use. The rest I could live without :-)

I missed BASIC for a while, but the only thing I really used to miss was the back button at the top-left of windows. Once Apple came up with Exposé I didn't miss that any more.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Corrections
by torbenm on Wed 28th Jan 2009 11:33 UTC in reply to "Corrections"
torbenm Member since:
2007-04-23

Archie's ran in 24bit mode.

I doubt the Archie would have handled the Internet.


I used my Archimedes to connect to the Internet using a telephone modem. This was, at the time, the standard way, even on IBM clones (as DOS machines were called at the time).


Mouse was horrible. It used 3 buttons to achieve what the Amiga did in two. It's also a PITA, because something like an A7000 is cripples (as it uses PS/2 mouse poret instead of the proprierty Archie port) because it requires a non standard 3 button PS/2 mouse.


I liked the mouse. I was used to 3-button-mice from Unix, so I always found the Apple or Microsoft 1 or 2 button mice limited. And, face it, Microsoft mice these days are really 3-button (if you count the scroll button/wheel), and Macs use combination sof keys and mouse buttons to overcome having only one button, and that is worse than having more buttons.

Arthur only existed for about a year. I remember seeing it in 1988/1989, but the ROMS had all been upgraded to RISCOS 2 by the time I used an Archie in ernest (about a year later.)


Yes, Arthur was clearly a stop-gap OS, and it was RISC OS 2 onwards that really defined what the machine could do.

The Archie had pretty basic video capabilities. 256 Colours was the highest mode most A3xx and A4xx machines did - most people ran in 16 colour mode too, because you ended up in Mode 13 on a lot of the earlier models. Chunky beyond belief. The A5000 might have done a higher count, I forget. My Sixth Form mainly had A310's and A410's.


At the time it came out, the graphics capabilities of the Archimedes were incredible. It may seem limited now with at most 256 colours, but you needed expensive graphics cards on IBM clones to match that -- or Amigas. The A5000 didn't add more colours, but it did up the screen resolution by having more VRAM. The Risc PC was IIRC the first Acorn computer to be born with 24-bit colour (though fairly expensive graphics cards made it possible for earlier machines).

Task bar - debatable. People always claim it was the Archie that invented it, but Next came up with the Dock at about the same time... more wishful thinking on the part of Acorn fanboys, I think :-))


Next came out in 1988, Archimedes in 1987. While the 1987 model used Arthur, it did have a taskbar (just not as advanced as what came with RISC OS 2).

Yes, I used them. Yes I own one still. No, I'm not sad they went away.


I have an A5000 in a box in my basement and an emulated RISC PC on my laptop. I must admit I don't use it much, though, as I nearly exclusively use cross-platform software such as Emacs, LaTeX and Firefox, which runs fine under Linux or even Windows.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Coxy
by Coxy on Mon 26th Jan 2009 14:58 UTC
Coxy
Member since:
2006-07-01

I had to use these at school. They were great when the only thing you had at home to compare them to was an atari a cpc 464. Even better then some old PCs, but all things considered, the lessons we had were a complete waste of time. A soon as you finish school you realise that nobody BUT schools uses them.

They should have invested more money and bought some PCs. And got some teachers who actually know what they are talking about. Ours used to call those blue 3 inch discs that replaced the very bendy bigger ones hard discs! Well compared to the 5 inch ones they were "hard", but still...

The best thing about Arcs were the games. Playing chocks away over the network was a great. Beats any game from today.

Edited 2009-01-26 14:59 UTC

Reply Score: 2

I bought the programming manuals myself...
by rklrkl on Mon 26th Jan 2009 16:31 UTC
rklrkl
Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't even remember this "User's Guide" when I was actively programming on the Archimedes. I thought anyone serious about coding on the machine would have the multi-volume programmer's reference maunals published by Acorn (I did and they were very handy).

Now if you want a single volume manual that really did the business, the BBC Micro Advanced User Guide was the essential one to get in those days, mainly because it had no competitors at all, but also because it was extremely well written.

What I liked about the Archimedes was that the OS was in ROM (so releases *had* to be stable and not like the buggy OS releases we get from MS that have to be patched endlessly), so power on to desktop was 2 seconds and I actually didn't even need a hard drive! For a short while (about a year, maybe two), it was actually the fastest desktop machine available, but Intel's chips finally overhauled it in the early 90's.

Edited 2009-01-26 16:33 UTC

Reply Score: 2

memson Member since:
2006-01-01

I thought anyone serious about coding on the machine would have the multi-volume programmer's reference maunals published by Acorn (I did and they were very handy).


I sometimes think about selling my A7000, as it doesn't get used hardly ever (except to play Elite or TwinWorld every now and again in a purely nostalgic way.) But the Programmer's ref guide is the thing that stops me.. it weighs more than the machine!! I don't want to think about how much weight it'll add to the pastage!!! I also have a BBC Basic guide and an A3000 user guide I think, as well as a couple of Archemiedes World/Acorn users magazines. Lol. Don't want to sell half the stuff, all or nothing.

Reply Score: 2

This is the future
by dimosd on Wed 28th Jan 2009 11:01 UTC
dimosd
Member since:
2006-02-10

I never owned one, but I remember seeing a primitive (by today's standards) 3D game running on a 32-bit computer (while I owned a 8-bit one) and thinking, as a kid, "Wow! This is the future"

Reply Score: 2