Feeds

Strong ARM: The Acorn Archimedes is 25

The first ARM computer

Boost IT visibility and business value

Arthur

The first machines shipped with Arthur 0.2, rapidly followed by 0.3 and soon updated to 1.2. Arthur was developed by a team headed by Paul Fellows – their work would be continued by William Stoye's group after Arthur became Risc OS. This being the era of Rom storage – of which the Archimedes has 512KB, on four chips – updating the OS required opening the machine's casing, removing the current Rom chips and replacing them with new ones.

Curiously, Acorn wanted its Arthur 0.2 Roms back, but users were free to bin chips holding version 0.3. Does anyone know why?

Arthur UI. Source: Matthew Pye

Arthur's Archimedes Desktop Manager
Source: Matthew Pye

Arthur comprised two parts: one for the machine itself, the other, separate, for the storage. That allowed Acorn to offer multiple filing systems. Two were supplied with the original Archimedes: ADFS (Advanced Disk Filing System), a revised version of the ADFS that shipped with the BBC Master, and ANFS (Advanced Network Filing System), to be used to access server-hosted files over Acorn's Econet network tech. Users could switch from one to the other and back again at the command line.

Eschewing filename extensions, Arthur was coded to map files to applications, allowing you to key in a filename and have the correct software load it up for viewing, editing or running.

Windows, Icons, Mouse

Unlike others operating systems, most notably MS-DOS – by now six years old – and CPM (even older), Arthur could load multiple files to different memory addresses.

Not that most users delved into this command-line jiggery pokery – the Archimedes hid it all behind its own colour graphical user interface, called Archimedes Desktop Manager, of the kind already seen on the Mac and in the early forms of Windows and Gem, but here written in… BBC Basic.

Advertising Risc OS. Source: Wikimedia

Advertising Archimedes' GUI
Source: Wikimedia

The Archimedes had a mouse too, and one that followed the WIMP UI pioneer Xerox's three-button layout: Select, Menu and Adjust.

To maintain compatibility with the BBC micros, Acorn equipped the Archimedes with 65EMU, a 6502 emulator. To offer Beeb buffs some extra familiarity, the A300 series' keyboard function keys were coloured red, as per the BBC Micro.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Top Gun display for your CAR: Heads-up fighter pilot tech
Sadly Navdy kit doesn't include Sidewinder missile to blast traffic
Apple takes blade to 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
Shaves price, not screen on mid-2014 model
FEAST YOUR EYES: Samsung's Galaxy Alpha has an 'entirely new appearance'
Wow, it looks like nothing else on the market, for sure
iPhone 6 flip tip slips in Aussie's clip: Apple's 'reversible USB' leaks
New plug not compatible with official Type-C, according to fresh rumors
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
YES YES YES! Apple patents mousy, pressure-sensing iVibrator
Fanbois prepare to experience the great Cupertin-O
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
NVIDIA claims first 64-bit ARMv8 SoC for Androids
Mile-High 'Denver' Tegra K1 successor said to rival PC performance
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.