ScuzzBlog: Diaries January 2024

Entry 26th January 2024: Post 1: Acorn BBC A3000 - Strong ARM tactics.

Acorn BBC A3000 - Strong ARM tactics.

Yesterday I was discussing the Atari 520ST as the first real home
computer wedge of the 16 bit era. I concluded by comparing with
other machines of the day such as the A500. It would be remiss of
me not to drop an Acorn into the mix to compare body parts, and
so that is what I do today.

My feature on the Atari ST brings into focus the short lived era
of the wedge. It is easy to think that Atari and Amiga had the
monopoly on the wedge form factor, but there was another. The BBC
A3000 Microcomputer.

If you know your eighties computer history you will likely be well
aware that the Acorn range of computers was built around the success
of the BBC Micro originally the BBC Model B. Acorn went on to also
introduce the Archimedes range of machines specifically created
for the BBC schools program. The machines were a great success and
spawned the ARM chip using the RISC operating system. This was no
small feat given the wizardry of Sophie Wilson in creating the ARM

The BBC A3000 featured today was released in May 1989 and priced
at just 649 quid. It really is quite incredible just how much of
a punch this machine packed for the money. The computer sported
an ARM 2 8MHz processor running RISC OS 2. It had 1MB memory and
carried an armoury such as the external expansion ports for the
Archimedes type podules. This could house hard drives, digitizers,
midi interfaces etc. The rear ports gave RGB, mono video, headphone
socket, parallel and serial port plus Econet socket. The PSU came
integrated so just a plug in and play and the best feature was a
full operating system on ROM so no need to load disks. Saying
that the machine did come with floppy drive as standard for HD.

The poor Acorn whilst benefiting from the school contracts did
suffer, being type cast into the schools bracket. It was seen less
as a homes computer and so was not embraced so readily by the
gaming community that lent more toward the Amiga and Atari. Had
any one of these three machines merged with one or tother I dare
say they really could have given Apple and MS a run for their
money. Personally I never experienced the Acorn till the early
2000s, but quite seriously had I used one of these in the eighties
I would have jumped at buying one. They are just a dream to use.

The A3000 was the last Acorn to sport the BBC logo. Following this
machine Acorn brought out the A3010 and A3020 which were the last
of their wedge machines.

Just a heads up, if you acquire an Acorn and it appears dead then
just boot whilst clicking the DELETE key and I bet she springs
back to life.

Anyhoo there is but one great wedge left to feature and I am not
talking about the A500, Plus or 600. More on that tomorrow.

Acorn BBC A3000 - Strong ARM tactics.

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Last updated 26th January 2024

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