RISC OS Timeline

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This is meant to be a complete history of Acorn Computers and RISC OS development with particular detail on post-Acorn events

The events surrounding development of RISC OS beyond its last release by Acorn (version 3.7) have become confused, with sometimes several incomplete stories. This details hopefully the most accurate version of those events to date, and will serve as a future reference.

Much of the post-Acorn RISC OS development information is based directly on information provided by Steve Revill (a former Acorn employee) and Peter Howkins (who maintains a database of RISC OS version information). It was compiled by Peter Naulls and has then been extended by James Scholes and others.

Other dates are drawn from numerous sources, including Wikipedia, Chris Whytehead and older material by Peter Naulls.

Contents

Early Acorn

1978

  • 5/12/1978 – Acorn Computers established in Cambridge, England as a trading name of Cambridge Processor Unit Ltd.

1980

  • 03/1980 – Acorn Atom

BBC Era

1981

  •  ? – BBC Micro launch
  • 12/08/1981 – IBM PC

1986

  • 2/1986 – BBC Master

Archimedes Era

1987

  • 06/1987 – Acorn Archimedes

1989

  • 05/1989 – A3000

1990

  • 11/1990 – Advanced RISC Machines Ltd (aka ARM Ltd/ARM Holdings) is created and spun off from Acorn

1991

  •  ? – A5000/RISC OS 3.00
  •  ? – A4/RISC OS 3.1
  • 18/01/1991 – First release of UnixLib

1992

  • 09/1992 – A3010, A3020, A4000

RiscPC Era

1994

  • 16/04/1994 – RiscPC 600/RISC OS 3.5
  • 6/10/1994 – First release of GCC for RISC OS (version 2.4.5)

1995

  •  ? – A7000
  •  ? – RiscPC 700/RISC OS 3.6
  • 08/1995 – Windows 95

1996

  •  ? – StrongARM RiscPC/RISC OS 3.7

1997

  •  ? – A7000+/RISC OS 3.71

1998

  • NCOS is merged back into CVS both before and during RISC OS 3.80 development.
  • 25/08/1998 – Acorn Release RISC OS 3.8 to registered developers. 3.80, codenamed Ursula is the 'beta' for the version of RISC OS that will appear in the RiscPC2 (Phoebe). It has been deliberately nobbled to only run on ARM 6 and ARM 7 machines to discourage developers from keeping their SA RiscPC and 3.80 once the RiscPC2 is released. RISC OS 3.80 has some bugs, but generally shows about 90% of the content/work of RISC OS 4.02. A SA capable ROM image was made available to a few people as well, and likely used in-house at Acorn.

Post Acorn

1998

  •  ? – Acorn Phoebe
  • 17/09/1998 – Acorn closes the workstation division, ceases development on Phoebe. RISC OS development continues as a black project amongst a few engineers, leading to the various revisions of Ursula ROM softload patches for RiscPC.

1999

  • 15/01/1999 – The remaining parts of Acorn rename as Element 14 Ltd.
  • 05/03/1999 – RISCOS Ltd secure the rights to develop RISC OS for the desktop market and receive source code from Element 14. This was probably the latest version to date, and includes some early 32-bit and HAL work.
  • 27/04/1999 – The breakup of Element 14 Ltd to free up its ARM shares. The bank MSDW purchase the shares of Element 14, then sell the silicon design buisness to Stan Boland and the management team for £1.5 million. The STB business went to Pace for £200,000. These changes are finalised by 03/06/1999.
  • 01/07/1999 – RISCOS Ltd, having completed RISC OS code to a sellable state, release RISC OS 4.02 for sale to the general public.
  • 09/1999 (or so) – drobe.co.uk launches

2000

  • 12/05/2000 – Castle demonstrate Kinetic card to press.
  • 10/2000 – Element 14, the silicon design business, is sold to Broadcom in a stock deal worth approx $594 million (USD).
  • 08/08/2000–02/04/2001 – Pace Engineers continue to build soft-loadable versions of RISC OS for RiscPCs including the 32-bit/HAL work. These are considerably more polished than 3.80, and appear to be as feature complete as ROL's 4.02. Some code from RISC OS 4.02 is included from ROL (who is now selling Select).

2001

  •  ? – ViewFinder video expansion for RiscPC
  • 05/2001 – Select announced (begins in October)
  • 05/2001 – MicroDigital first shows Omega at Wakefield

2002

  • 4/2002 – NetSurf project starts
  •  ? – RISC OS Select.
  • 10/2002 – Select 2

2003

  • 4/07/2003 – Castle purchase RISC OS from Pace.
  • 05/2003 – Select 3
  • 11/11/2003 – Castle cease RiscPC production.

2004

  • RISCOS begins working on their own 32-bit version (Adjust 32)
  • 04/2004 – RISC OS Adjust (4.39)
  • 16/04/2004 – RiscPC 10 years old.

2005

  • 22/05/2005 – A9Home at Wakefield show
  • 06/2005 – First port of Firefox for RISC OS released.

2006

  • 01/04/2006 – 7th software announce release of the first version of the powerful virtual desktop application, MoreDesk
  • 09/07/2006 – RISC OS Open is announced following two weeks of speculation after the company registration was spotted on Drobe. It shortly emerges that it is a project to offer the source to several parts of RISC OS for open modification.
  • 26/11/2006 – As part of a redesign, the Acorn Arcade and The Icon Bar websites have their content & back-end merged together. This essentially marks the "closure" of Acorn Arcade, since the new acornarcade.com will only display gaming-related articles, whereas iconbar.com displays both the gaming and non-gaming articles. (Icon Bar/Acorn Arcade relaunch article)

2007

  • 02/2007 – Castle releases its last "closed source" ROM image for the Iyonix, OS5.13.
  • 30/04/2007 (estimate) – After several soft-loadable releases, RISCOS Ltd release RISC OS 6 "the 32 bit neutral version of RISC OS developed by RISCOS Ltd.
  • 19/05/2007 – Castle and RISC OS Open release their first sources.
  • 08/2007 – NetSurf 1.1

2008

  • 03/2008 – NetSurf 1.2

2009

  • 28/04/2009 – Castle and RISC OS Open release their first complete ROM image for the Iyonix, OS5.14.
  • 04/2009 – NetSurf 2.0
  • 05/2009 – NetSurf 2.1
  • 21/09/2009 – drobe.co.uk shuts down into archive mode after 10 years.
  • 22/09/2009 – riscos.info starts covering RISC OS news.

See Also

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