Acorn and RISC OS Hardware

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RISC OS Hardware

This page tries to provide a full list of Acorn and RISC OS systems that have been or are available to purchase at some time or other. That is: machines which users are likely to encounter in use or available for sale.

In addition to the systems listed, there have been many more prototypes, development systems and proof-of-concept models that have never made it to market.

Several RISC OS systems are still being developed and are available for consumers to buy new. Details of these are shown on this page, which is not intended to be a definitive list.

Acorn hardware

The following systems were produced by Acorn between 1987 and 1998.

More information about these systems, and many other development models that never made it to the public, can be found at http://www.khantazi.org/Archives/MachineLst.html.

Archimedes series

Acorn's original RISC OS machines were sold under the Archimedes brand, and started out with the pre-RISC OS Arthur operating system. All of the models were three-box systems, comprising a separate base unit, keyboard and monitor. The keyboard was a custom Acorn design, with the 9-pin quadrature mouse plugging into the side.

Although many functional systems still exist, the Archimedes machines are mainly of historical interest these days as a lot of software requires more processing power, more memory or a more recent version of RISC OS than they can support.

  • A305 and A310. The entry level Archimedes, with 0.5MB or 1MB memory and no support for expansion cards or hard discs as standard. Can run RISC OS 2 and RISC OS 3.1.
  • A410, A420, A440. An 'improved A300', with 1, 2, or 4MB or memory. An ST506 hard disc controler and podule backplane included. Can run RISC OS 2 and RISC OS 3.1.
  • R140. An A440 supplied with a 53MB hard disc and RISCiX, Acorn's brand of Unix.
  • A410/1, A420/1, A440/1. The same as the A410, A420 and A440, but fitted with the MEMC1a memory controller. Can run RISC OS 2 and RISC OS 3.1.
  • A540. An improvement on the A400 series, with ARM3, SCSI hard disc and 4Mb memory (plus support for up to 16MB). Can run RISC OS 2 and RISC OS 3.1.
  • R225, R260. An A540 supplied with 4 or 8MB of memory and, in the case of the R260, a 100MB hard disc. Designed to run Acorn's RISCiX as well as RISC OS.

Acorn branded

After the release of the A540, Acorn abandoned the Archimedes branding.

Of the machines here, the RiscPC and A7000 ranges are the most practical for current use as they run the latest version of RISC OS and can be expanded to take sensible amounts of memory.

  • A4. The only Acorn notebook that ran RISC OS. Supplied with RISC OS 3.1 which had support for battery management and the LCD display.
  • A3000. The only non-Archimedes model to pre-date RISC OS 3. A two-box system, with the keyboard integrated into the main box. Can run RISC OS 2 and RISC OS 3.1.
  • A3010. A two-box system, similar in shape to the A3000. Aimed at the home market, and fitted with UHF modulator. Can run RISC OS 3.1.
  • A3020. A two-box system similar to the A3010, but with networking and hard disc capability and minus the UHF output. Can run RISC OS 3.1.
  • A4000. A three-box version of the A3020 in a similar format to the A5000, with a separate keyboard to appeal to businesses and secondary schools. Can run RISC OS 3.1.
  • A5000. A three-box system, and the first machine to come fitted with RISC OS 3 (originally 3.0, quickly replaced by 3.1).
  • A5000 alpha. A faster version of the base A5000. Can run RISC OS 3.1.
  • A7000. A 'cut down RiscPC', without the expansion options and using a more conventional desktop three-box format. The first Acorn system to take a standard PS/2 keyboard and mouse. Based on a 32 MHz ARM7500. Can run RISC OS 3.6, RISC OS 3.7 and RISC OS 4.
  • A7000+. An 'improved A7000', with effectively a completely new motherboard. Based on a 48MHz ARM7500FE which includes a Floating Point Unit and supports EDO RAM. Can run RISC OS 3.7 and RISC OS 4.
  • RiscPC. The first of the machines to break with the ARM2 and ARM3 series of processor. Extremely expandable, it is a three-box system with an extendable main case and space for two plug-in processor cards. Support for PS/2 keyboards, but still retained the 9-pin quadrature mouse. Machines can be fitted with ARM610, ARM710 and StrongARM processors, and can run RISC OS 3.5, 3.6, 3.7, 4 or 6.
  • Network Computer. Slimline discless machine with similar hardware to A7000, provided with internal modem or Ethernet. Runs NC OS (a derivative of RISC OS), designed for use with a server. Various different machines were produced under the NC banner.

Third-party hardware

The following systems are ARM-based, and run RISC OS in one flavour or another, but have been produced by third-parties -- in most cases, following Acorn's withdrawal from the desktop market.

All of the third-party systems make use of generic PC hardware wherever possible, and take standard PS/2 or USB mice and keyboards (depending on the system concerned).

Advantage Six

An Oldham-based hardware manufacturer, whose details can be found at http://www.advantage6.com/

Castle Technology Ltd / IYONIX Ltd

A Suffolk-based hardware manufacturer, whose details can be found at http://www.iyonix.com/

  • Kinetic RiscPC. Another processor card for the RiscPC, with a StrongARM, own DRAM memory and a flash ROM containing RISC OS 4.03 all on the same daughtercard.
  • A7000+ Odyssey. Slightly faster A7000+ with an ARM7500FE clocked at 56 MHz. Can run RISC OS 3.71 or 4.
  • IYONIX pc. Based around the XScale processor and available in a number of standard ATX configurations. Can run RISC OS 5. Currently available to buy new, details can be found at http://www.iyonix.com/.

MicroDigital

A Yorkshire-based hardware manufacturer.

  • Mico. Based around the ARM7500 processor. Can run RISC OS 4.03.
  • Omega. Based around the StrongARM and XScale processors. Can run RISC OS 4.03.

RiscStation

A Manchester-based hardware manufacturer. More details can be found at http://www.ctadirect.co.uk/riscstat/riscstat.htm

  • R7500. Based around the ARM7500 processor. Can run RISC OS 4.03.
  • Networx. Similar to the R7500, but intended for network use. Can run RISC OS 4.03.
  • Scorcher. Similar to the R7500, but with a CDRW drive fitted as standard.

Emulated systems

In addition to native ARM-based hardware, RISC OS can be run on a Windows machine using the VirtualRPC emulator from VirtualAcorn / 3QD Developments. Although the emulator can be bought and installed on any PC, some RISC OS companies sell pre-configured systems which can save the user having to source suitable hardware and set things up.

The emulator software can simulate ARM610, ARM710 or StrongARM systems, which are generally configured to run RISC OS 4.02 or RISC OS 4.39.

Details of the VirtualRPC emulator itself can be found at http://www.virtualacorn.co.uk/.

Advantage Six

An Oldham-based hardware supplier, whose details can be found at http://www.advantage6.com/.

R-Comp

A Cheshire-based hardware supplier, whose details can be found at http://www.rcomp.co.uk/

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