This talk will cover everything about the Acorn Archimedes, a British computer first released in 1987 and (slightly) famous for being the genesis of the original ARM processor.[…]
The audience will get an appreciation for the Arc’s elegant design, the mid-1980s birth of RISC processors, and the humble origins of the now-omnipresent ARM architecture.
The weather’s frightful, the fire’s delightful, there’s no place to go, so here’s an hour long technical talk about the Acorn Archimedes by Matt Evans.
This was quite an interesting talk – I didn’t know about RISC iX (or the A680 it ran on) that was mentioned towards the end for example. I owned an early Archimedes and it was, for about a year, the fastest home computer you could own.
The OS (now morphed into RISC OS, which you can run on a Raspberry Pi) was excellent for the time, as was BASIC V. It was a pain in the backside to upgrade the OS/BASIC though – it was all on ROMs! I remember them costing me £50 (a lot of money back in the day) to get an upgrade set of ROMs.
The Archimedes never really took off because – despite this talk emphasising the design compromises made to save money – it was, like the BBC Micro predecessor, an expensive purchase at the time. It was competing against the Amiga and Atari ST at the time and cost up to twice as much as them. Yes, I’d argue it was twice as good as them, but in the 80’s and early 90’s, price was king in the home computer market (witness the success of the ZX Spectrum, whose hardware, OS and BASIC had zero redeeming features and yet sold like hot cakes because it was cheap).