citations missing=october 2008
POV=october 2008Infobox Defunct company
company_name = Acorn Computers
foundation = December, 1978
defunct = November, 2000
fate = Bought by
Chris Curry Steve Furber Hermann Hauser Andy Hopper Sophie Wilson
Acorn System 1Microcomputer System Atom BBC MicroElectron Master series Archimedes range Risc PC range Acorn Network ComputerPhoebe
slogan = "The choice of experience"
Acorn Computers was a British
computercompany established in Cambridge, England, in 1978. The company produced a number of computers which were especially popular in the UK. These included the Acorn Electron, the BBC Microand the Acorn Archimedes. Acorn's BBC Microcomputer dominated the UK educational computer market during the 1980s and early 1990s, drawing many comparisons with Apple in the U.S.
Though the company was broken up into several independent operations in 1998, it left an impressive legacy, particularly in the development of
RISCpersonal computers. A number of Acorn's former subsidiaries live on today - notably ARM Holdingswho are globally dominant in the mobile phone and PDAmicroprocessor market. Acorn is sometimes known as "the British Apple".
On 25 July 1961,
Clive Sinclairfounded Sinclair Radionicsto develop and sell electronic devices such as calculators. The failure of the "Black Watch" wristwatch and the calculator market's move from LEDs to LCDs led to financial problems, and Sinclair approached the National Enterprise Board(NEB) for help. After losing control of the company to the NEB, Sinclair encouraged Chris Curryto leave Radionics and get Science of Cambridge(SoC) up and running. In June 1978, SoC launched a microcomputer kit that Curry wanted to develop further, but Sinclair could not be persuaded. During the development of the MK14, Hermann Hauser, a friend of Curry's, had been visiting SoC's offices and had grown interested in the product.
CPU Ltd (1978–83)
Curry and Hauser decided to pursue their joint interest in microcomputers and, on 5 December 1978, they set up "Cambridge Processor Unit" Ltd (CPU) as the vehicle with which to do this. CPU soon obtained a consultancy contract to develop a microprocessor-based controller for a fruit machine for Ace Coin Equipment (ACE) of
Wales. The ACE project was started at office space obtained at 4a Market Hill in Cambridge. Initially, the ACE controller was based on a SC/MP microprocessor, but soon the switch to a 6502 was made.
The microcomputer systems
CPU had financed the development of a 6502-based microcomputer system using the income from its design-and-build consultancy. This system was launched in January 1979 as the first product of "Acorn Computer Ltd", a trading name used by CPU to keep the risks of the two different lines of business separate. Acorn was chosen because the microcomputer system was to be expandable and growth-oriented. It also had the attraction of appearing before "Apple" in a telephone directory.
Around this time, CPU and
Andy Hopperset up "Orbis Ltd" to commercialise the Cambridge Ringnetworking system Hopper had worked on for his PhD, but it was soon decided to bring him into CPU as a director because he could promote CPU's interests at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory. CPU purchased Orbis, and Hopper's Orbis shares were exchanged for shares in CPU Ltd. CPU's role gradually changed as its Acorn brand grew, and soon CPU was simply the holding company and Acorn was responsible for development work. At some point Curry had a disagreement with Sinclair and formally left Science of Cambridge, but did not join the other Acorn employees at Market Hill until a little while later.
The Acorn Microcomputer, later renamed the "
Acorn System 1", was designed by Sophie Wilson. It was a semi-professional system aimed at engineering and laboratory users, but its price was low enough, at around £80, to appeal to the more serious enthusiast as well. It was a very small machine built on two cards, one with an LED display, keypad, and cassette interface (the circuitry to the left of the keypad), and the other with the rest of the computer (including the CPU). Almost all CPU signals were accessible via a Eurocardconnector.
The "System 2" made it easier to expand the system by putting the CPU card from the System 1 in a convert|19|in|mm|sing=on Eurocard rack that allowed a number of optional additions. The System 2 typically shipped with keyboard controller, external keyboard, a text display interface, and a cassette operating system with built-in BASIC interpreter.
The "System 3" moved on by adding
floppy disksupport and the "System 4" by including a larger case with a second drive. The "System 5" was largely similar to the System 4, but included a newer 2 MHz version of the 6502.
Development of the ZX80 started at Science of Cambridge in May 1979. Learning of this probably prompted Curry to conceive the Atom project to target the consumer market. Curry and another designer,
Nick Toop, worked from Curry's home in the Fenson the development of this machine. It was at this time that "Acorn Computers Ltd" was incorporated and Curry moved to Acorn full-time.
It was Curry who wanted to target the consumer market – other factions within Acorn, including the engineers, were happy to be "out" of that market, considering a
home computerto be a rather frivolous product for a company operating in the laboratory equipment market. To keep costs down and not give the doubters reason to object to the Atom, Curry asked industrial designer Allen Boothroydto design a case that could also function as an external keyboard for the microcomputer systems. The internals of the System 3 were placed inside the keyboard, creating a quite typical set-up for an inexpensive home computer of the early '80s – the relatively successful " Acorn Atom".
To facilitate software development, a proprietary local area network had been installed at Market Hill. It was decided to include this, the
Econet, in the Atom, and at its launch at a computer show in March 1980, eight networked Atoms were demonstrated with functions that allowed files to be shared, screens to be remotely viewed and keyboards to be remotely slaved.
BBC Micro and the Electron
After the Atom had been released into the market, Acorn contemplated building modern
16-bitprocessors to replace the Atom. After a great deal of discussion, Hauser suggested a compromise – an improved 6502-based machine with far greater expansion capabilities: the "Proton". Acorn's technical staff had not wanted to do the Atom and they now saw the Proton as their opportunity to "do it right". ["do it right" – quotation from an email from Sophie Wilson.]
One of the developments proposed for the Proton was the "Tube", a proprietary interface allowing a second processor to be added. This compromise would make for an affordable 6502 machine for the mass market which could be expanded with more sophisticated and expensive processors. The Tube enabled processing to be farmed out to the second processor leaving the 6502 to perform data
input/output(I/O). The Tube would later be instrumental in the development of Acorn's processor. ["Should Acorn abandon the 6502 processor which lay at the heart of all its machines? Should the next machine be full of the latest features or should it sacrifice advanced technology for the mass market?" [http://www.stairwaytohell.com/articles/AU-AcornHistory.html From Atom to ARC, Acorn User 1988] ]
In early 1980, the BBC Further Education department conceived the idea of a computer literacy programme, mostly as a follow-up to a BBC documentary, "The Mighty Micro", in which
Dr Christopher Evansfrom the UK National Physical Laboratory predicted the coming microcomputerrevolution. It was a very influential documentary – so much so that questions were asked in parliament. As a result of these questions, the Department of Industry(DoI) became interested in the programme, as did BBC Enterprises, which saw an opportunity to sell a machine to go with the series. BBC Engineering was instructed to draw up an objective specification for a computer to accompany the series.
Eventually, under some pressure from the DoI to choose a British system, the BBC chose the NewBrain from
Newbury Laboratories. This selection revealed the extent of the pressure brought to bear on the supposedly independent BBC's computer literacy project – Newbury was owned by the National Enterprise Board, a government agency operating in close collaboration with the DoI. The choice was also somewhat ironic given that the NewBrain started life as a Sinclair Radionics project, and it was Sinclair's preference for developing it over Science of Cambridge's MK14 that led to Curry leaving SoC to found CPU with Hauser.The NEB moved the NewBrain to Newbury after Sinclair left Radionics and went to SoC.
In 1980–1982, the UK Department of Education and Science (DES) had begun the
Microelectronics Education Programmeto introduce microprocessing concepts and educational materials. In 1982 through to 1986, the DoI allocated funding to assist UK local education authorities to supply their schools with a range of computers, the BBC Micro being one of the most popular. In parallel the DES continued to fund more materials for the computers, such as software and applied computing projects, plus teacher training.
Although the NewBrain was under heavy development by Newbury, it soon became clear that they were not going to be able to produce it – certainly not in time for the literacy programme nor to the BBC's specification. The BBC's programmes, initially scheduled for autumn 1981, were moved back to spring 1982. After Curry and Sinclair found out about the BBC's plans, the BBC allowed other manufacturers to submit their proposals.The BBC visited Acorn and were given a demonstration of the Proton. Shortly afterwards, the literacy programme computer contract was awarded to Acorn, and the Proton was launched early in 1982 as the "
BBC Micro". In April 1984 Acorn won the Queen's Award for Technologyfor the BBC Micro. The award paid special tribute to the BBC Micro's advanced design, and it commended Acorn "for the development of a microcomputer system with many innovative features".
In April 1982 Sinclair launched the
ZX Spectrum. Curry conceived of the "Electron" as Acorn's sub-£200 competitor. In many ways a cut-down BBC Micro, it used one Acorn-designed ULA to reproduce most of the functionality. But problems in producing the ULAs led to short supply, and the Electron, although launched in August 1983, was not on the market in sufficient numbers to capitalise on the 1983 Christmas sales period. Acorn resolved to avoid this problem in 1984 and negotiated new production contracts.
Acorn Computer Group plc (1983–85)
The BBC Micro sold spectacularly well – so much so that Acorn's profits rose from a mere £3000 in 1979 to £8.6m in July 1983. In September 1983, CPU shares were liquidated and Acorn was floated on the
Unlisted Securities Marketas "Acorn Computer Group plc", with Acorn Computers Ltd as the microcomputer division. With a minimum tender price of 120p, the group came into existence with a market capitalisation of about £135 million. CPU founders Hermann Hauser and Chris Curry leapt instantly into the paper millionaire bracket: Hauser's 53.25 million shares made him worth £64m; Curry's 43 million shares translated into £51m.
New RISC architecture
Even from the time of the Atom, Acorn were considering how to move on from the 6502 processor: the
16-bit Acorn Communicatordeveloped in 1982 using the 65816 being a key example.
IBM PCwas launched on 12 August 1981. Although a version of that machine was aimed at the enthusiast market much like the BBC Micro, its real area of success was business. The successor to the PC, the XT (EXtended Technology) was introduced in early 1983. The success of these machines and the variety of Z80-based CP/Mmachines in the business sector demonstrated that it was a viable market, especially given that sector's ability to cope with premium prices. The development of a business machine looked like a good idea to Acorn. A development programme was started to create a business computer using Acorn's existing technology – the BBC Micro mainboard, the Tube and second processors to give CP/M, MS-DOSand Unix( Xenix) workstations.
Acorn Business Computer" (ABC) plan required a number of second processors to be made to work with the BBC Micro platform. In developing these, Acorn had to implement the Tube protocols on each processor chosen, in the process finding out, during 1983, that there were no obvious candidates to replace the 6502. Because of many-cycle uninterruptible instructions, for example, the interruptresponse times of the 68000 were too slow to handle the communication protocol that the host 6502-based BBC Micro coped with easily. Development of the National Semiconductor 32016-based model of the ABC range, later sold as the Cambridge Workstation (using the Panos operating system), had shown Sophie Wilson and Steve Furberthe value of memory bandwidth. It also showed that an 8 MHz 32016 was completely trounced in performance terms by a 4 MHz 6502. Furthermore, the Apple Lisahad shown the Acorn engineers that they needed to develop a windowing system – and this was not going to be easy with a 2–4 MHz 6502-based system doing the graphics. Acorn would need a new architecture.
Acorn had tested all of the available processors and found them wanting. Having ruled out existing CPUs, it was clear to the developers that Acorn should seriously consider designing its own processor. Acorn’s engineers came across papers on the Berkeley RISC project. They could now handle the truth: if a class of graduate students could create a competitive 32-bit processor, then Acorn would have no problem. A trip to the
Western Design Centerin Phoenix showed Furber and Wilson that they did not need massive resources and state-of-the-art R&D facilities.
Sophie Wilson set about developing the instruction set, writing a simulation of the processor in
BBC Basicthat ran on a BBC Micro with a 6502 second processor. It convinced the Acorn engineers that they were on the right track. Before they could go any further, however, they would need more resources. It was time for Wilson to approach Hauser and explain what was afoot. Once the go-ahead had been given, a small team was put together to implement Wilson's model in hardware.
The official "Acorn RISC Machine" project started in October 1983.
VLSI Technology, Incwere chosen as silicon partner, since they already supplied Acorn with ROMs and some custom chips. VLSI produced the first ARM silicon on 26 April 1985 – it worked first time and came to be known as ARM1. Its first practical application was as a second processor to the BBC Micro, where it was used to develop the simulation software to finish work on the support chips (VIDC, IOC, MEMC) and to speed up the operation of the CAD software used in developing ARM2. Wilson subsequently coded BBC Basic in ARM assembly language, and the in-depth knowledge obtained from designing the instruction set allowed the code to be very dense, making ARM BBC Basic an extremely good test for any ARM emulator.
Such was the secrecy surrounding the ARM CPU project that when
Olivettiwere negotiating to take a controlling share of Acorn in 1985, they were not told about the development team until after the negotiations had been finalised. In 1992 Acorn once more won the Queen's Award for Technology for the ARM.
Acorn's watershed year was 1984 – it had gone public just as the home computer market collapsed. It was the year when
Atariwas sold, Apple nearly went bust, and Acorn had solved the one problem it had had throughout its history: production volumes.
The Electron had been launched in 1983, but problems with the supply ofits ULAs meant that Acorn was not able to capitalise on the 1983 Christmas selling period – a successful advertising campaign, including TV advertisements, had led to 300,000 orders, but the Malaysian suppliers were only able to supply 30,000 machines. The apparently strong demand for Electrons proved to be illusory: rather than wait, parents bought
Commodore 64s or ZX Spectrums for their children's presents. Ferrantisolved the production problem and in 1984 production reached its anticipated volumes, but the contracts Acorn had negotiated with its suppliers were not flexible enough to allow volumes to be reduced quickly in this unanticipated situation – supplies of the Electron built up. Acorn was in real trouble: by the end of the year it had 250,000 unsold Electrons on its hands, which had all been paid for and needed to be stored – at additional expense. [ [http://www.stairwaytohell.com/articles/SILICON-Electron.html Technologies time forgot: the Acorn Electron] , Silicon.com]
Acorn was also spending a large portion of its reserves on development: the BBC Master was being developed; the ARM project was underway; the Acorn Business Computer entailed a lot of development work but ultimately proved to be something of a flop, with only the 32016-based version ever being sold (as the Cambridge Workstation); and obtaining Federal approval for the BBC Micro in order to expand into the United States proved to a drawn-out and expensive process that proved futile – all of the expansion devices that were intended to be sold with the BBC Micro had to be tested and radiation emissions had to be reduced. Around $20m was sunk into the U.S. operation but the NTSC modified BBC Micros sold barely at all. They did, however, make an appearance in the school of
Supergirlin the 1984 film "Supergirl: The Movie".
Olivetti subsidiary (1985–98)
The dire financial situation was brought to a head in February 1985, when one of Acorn's creditors issued a winding-up petition. After a short period of negotiations, Curry and Hauser signed an agreement with
Olivettion 20 February. The Italian computer company took a 49.3% stake in Acorn for £12 million, which went some way to covering Acorn's £11 million losses in the previous six months. This valuation fell some £165m below Acorn's peak valuation of £190m. In September 1985, Olivetti took a controlling share of Acorn with 79% of shares.
BBC Master and Archimedes
BBC Master" was launched in February 1986 and met with great success. From 1986 to 1989, about 200,000 systems were sold, each costing £499, mainly to UK schools and universities. A number of enhanced versions were launched – for example, the Master 512, which had 512 KiBof RAM and an internal 80186 processor for MS-DOScompatibility, and the Master Turbo, which had a 65C102 second processor.
The first commercial use of the
ARM architecturewas in the "ARM Development System", a Tube-linked second processor for the BBC Master which allowed one to write programs for the new system. It sold for £4,500 and included the ARM processor, 4 MiB of RAM and a set of development tools with an enhanced version of BBC BASIC. (This system did not include the three support chips - VIDC,MEMC, and IOC - which were later to form part of the Archimedes system. They made their first appearance in the A500 second processor [http://acorn.chriswhy.co.uk/8bit_Upgrades/Acorn_A5002ndProc.html] , which was used internally within Acorn as a development platform, and had a similar form-factor to the ARM development system.
The second ARM-based product was the "
Acorn Archimedes" desktop-computer, released in mid-1987. The Archimedes was popular in the United Kingdom, Australasiaand Ireland, and was considerably more powerful and advanced than most offerings of the day, but the market was already stratifying into the PC-dominated world. Acorn continued to produce updated models of the Archimedes including a laptop (the A4) and in 1994 launched the " Risc PC", whose top specification would later include a 200 MHz+ StrongARMprocessor. These were sold mainly into education, specialist and enthusiast markets.
Acorn's silicon partner, VLSI, had been tasked with finding new applications for the ARM CPU and support chips. Hauser's Active Book company had been developing a handheld device and for this the ARM CPU developers had created a static version of their processor, the ARM2aS.
Apple was developing an entirely new computing platform, the Newton. Various requirements had been set for the processor in terms of power consumption, cost and performance, and there was also a need for fully static operation in which the clock could be stopped at any time. Only the Acorn RISC Machine came close to meeting all these demands, but there were still deficiencies. The ARM did not, for example, have an integral memory management unit as this function was being provided by the MEMC support chip and Acorn did not have the resources to develop one. [http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpls/abs_all.jsp?arnumber=573192 Low power hardware for a high performance PDA] , M. Culbert, in "Low Power Electronics, 1994. Digest of Technical Papers., IEEE Symposium", 1994.]
Apple and Acorn began to collaborate on developing the ARM, and it was decided that this would be best achieved by a separate company. The bulk of the Advanced Research and Development section of Acorn that had developed the ARM CPU formed the basis of
ARM Ltdwhen that company was spun off in November 1990. Acorn Group and Apple Computer Inc each had a 43% shareholding in ARM (in 1996 [http://www.poppyfields.net/acorn/news/acopress/apple.shtml Acorn Group and Apple Computer Dedicate Joint Venture to Transform IT in UK Education] , press release from Acorn Computers, 1996] ), while VLSI were an investor and first ARM licensee. [http://www.arm.com/aboutarm/milestones.html ARM milestones] , ARM website]
In 1994, a subsidiary of Acorn, "Online Media", was founded. Online Media aimed to exploit the projected
video-on-demand(VOD) boom, an interactive televisionsystem which would allow users to select and watch videocontent over a network. In September 1994 the "Cambridge Trial" of video-on-demand services was set up by Online Media, Anglia Television, Cambridge Cableand Advanced Telecommunication Modules Ltd(ATML) [http://www.poppyfields.net/acorn/news/armpress/arm7500.shtml ARM7500 Press Release] , Advanced RISC Machines Ltd press release, 18 Oct 1994] – the trial involved creating a wide area ATM network linking TV-company to subscribers' homes and delivering services such as home shopping, online education, software downloaded on-demand and the World Wide Web. The wide area network used a combination of fibre and coaxial cable, and the switches were housed in the roadside cabinets of Cambridge Cable's existing network. [http://www.mediation.co.uk/lessons1.html Lessons in Learning] , white paper, Mediation Technology, last modified 18 June 1999] Olivetti Research Laboratorydeveloped the technology used by the trial. An ICL video server provided the service via ATM switches manufactured by ATML, another company set up by Hauser and Hopper. The trial commenced at a speed of 2 Mbit/s to the home, subsequently increased to 25 Mbit/s. [http://www.iankitching.me.uk/articles/citv-nz.html Cambridge Corners the Future in Networking] , TUANZ Topics, Volume 05, No. 10, November 1995]
Subscribers used Acorn Online Media set-top boxes.For the first six months the trial involved 10 VOD terminals; the second phase was expanded to cover 100 homes and 8 schools with a further 150 terminals in test labs. A number of other organisations gradually joined in, including the
National Westminster Bank, the BBC, the Post Office, Tescoand the local education authority.
BBC Education tested delivery of radio-on-demand programmes to primary schools, and a new educational service, Education Online, was established to deliver material such as
Open Universitytelevision programmes and educational software. Netherhall secondary school was provided with an inexpensive video server and operated as a provider of Trial services, with Anglia Polytechnic University taking up a similar role some time later. It was hoped that Online Media could be floated as a separate company, but the predicted video-on-demand boom never really materialised.
When BBC2's "
The Money Programme" screened an interview with Larry Ellisonin October 1995, Acorn Online Media Managing Director Malcolm Bird realised that Ellison's network computerwas, basically, an Acorn set-top box. After initial discussions between Oracle Corporationand Olivetti, Hauser and Acorn a few weeks later, Bird was dispatched to San Francisco with Acorn's latest Set Top Box. Oracle had already talked seriously with computer manufacturers including Sun and Apple about the contract for putting together the NC blueprint machine; there were also rumours in the industry that said Oracle itself was working on the reference design. After Bird's visit to Oracle, Ellison visited Acorn and a deal was reached: Acorn would define the NC Reference Standard.
Ellison was expecting to announce the NC in February 1996. Sophie Wilson was put in charge of the NC project, and by mid-November a draft NC specification was ready. By January 1996 the formal details of the contract between Acorn and Oracle had been worked out, and the PCB was designed and ready to be put into production. [http://yoz.com/wired/2.09/features/acorn.html Five Go Nuts in Cambridge] , "Wired UK" magazine 2.09, September 1996] In February 1996 "Acorn Network Computing" was founded. In August 1996 it launched the
Acorn Network Computer.
It was hoped that the Network Computer would create a significant new sector in which Acorn Network Computing would be a major player, either selling its own products or earning money from licence fees paid by other manufacturers for the right to produce their own NCs.To that end, two of Acorn's major projects were the creation of a new 'consumer device' operating system, "Galileo" and, in conjunction with Digital Semiconductor and ARM, a new StrongARM chipset, the SA1500 / SA1501. Galileo's main feature was a guarantee of a certain
quality of serviceto each process in which the resources (CPU, memory, etc.) required to ensure reliable operation would be kept available regardless of the behaviour of other processes. [http://www.poppyfields.net/acorn/news/acopress/97-02-10b.shtml Acorn Looks to the Stars With New Galileo Operating System] , Acorn Computer Group press release, 10 Feb 1997] The SA1500 sported higher clock rates than existing StrongARM CPUs and, more importantly, a media-focussed coprocessor (the "Attached Media Processor" or AMP). The SA1500 was to be the first release target for Galileo. [http://www.dnd.utwente.nl/topix/texts/aw97.html Acorn World '97 Transcripts] ]
AfterFact|date=April 2007 having incorporated its STB and NC business areas as separate companies, Acorn created a new wholly owned subsidiary, "Acorn RISC Technologies" (ART). ART focused on the development of Galileo [http://www.byte.com/art/9706/sec18/art1.htm European Telecoms Brace for Change] , "Byte" magazine, June 1997] and other software and hardware technologies built on top of ARM processors.
Break up of Acorn (1998–2000) and on-going developments of their technology
Acorn's last real hopes of becoming a major player in the computer industry had fizzled out: set-top boxes were not taking off as expected, and the Network Computer, too, had been a bit of a flop – traditional PCs were reaching the types of prices thought to justify such a design, and increases in bandwidth to the home were slow to come about, making a broadband internet connection something of a luxury for the late '90s. Between 1996 and 1998
Olivettidisposed of its interest in Acorn Group through a series of structured transactions, raising £54m. Acorn restructured its operations, bringing its subsidiary companies back together as divisions within Acorn. Acorn Risc Technologies became the Workstation Division, which was closed in late 1998 when Acorn finally stopped producing desktop computers in favour of set-top boxes. The last machine, code-named "Phoebe" or Risc PC 2, was nearly fully developed at the time of the project's abandonment, and therefore was never produced in volume nor sold to the public. Notably, numbers of its distinctive yellow case were produced and sold off cheaply.
ARM, however, had gone from strength to strength. In 1998, the Company underwent an
initial public offering(IPO) and reregistered as a public company under the name "ARM Holdings plc" when it completed its IPO and listed its shares for trading on the London Stock Exchange and for quotation on the Nasdaq National Market. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter acted as global co-ordinator and book-runner for the Offering as well as sponsor and broker for the listing on the London exchange.
In January 1999, Acorn Group changed the name of Acorn Computers Ltd to "Element 14 Ltd" as it recast itself in the mould of ARM – that is as a developer of silicon (and software)
intellectual property(IP), with a focus on the digital TV market. [http://www.eetimes.com/story/OEG19990114S0016 Acorn renamed, refocused as Element 14] , EE Times, 14 Jan 1999] Around this time, ARM's share value had increased to a point where the capital value of Acorn Group plc was worth less than the value of its 24% holding in ARM. This situation led shareholders to press Acorn to sell its stake in ARM to provide a return on their investment. The situation also led ARM to consider taking action itself, since a financially weak shareholder such as Acorn was putting ARM in a vulnerable position. Acorn Computers Group plc was purchased on 1 June 1999 by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Investments Limited. The transaction involved the de-listing of Acorn Group plc, as a result of which its shareholding in ARM was distributed to Acorn's shareholders.
Morgan Stanley sold the set-top-box division to
Pace Micro Technologyfor £200,000, and Pace thereby acquired control of RISC OS. On 26 July 1999, [ [http://www.sophie.org.uk/element.htm Element 14 BBQ ] ] an Acorn management team led by Stan Bolandbought the DSP business, Element 14, from MSDW for £1.5 million – its net asset value. Element 14 subsequently secured £8.25 ($13) million in first-round funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, Atlas Venturesand Hauser's Amadeus Capital Partners. It had its headquarters in Cambridge and an engineering facility in Bristol, UK.
It successfully headhunted Alcatel's top
digital subscriber line(DSL) engineers, including designers of analogue front-end and digital ICs, xDSL modem software and specialists in asymmetric DSL (ADSL) and very high rate DSL (VDSL) systems, and thereby acquired an engineering centre in Mechelen, Belgium[http://www.electronicsweekly.com/Articles/2000/02/09/14651/Element+14+snatches+Alcatel+DSL+designers.htm Element 14 snatches Alcatel DSL designers] , Electronics Weekly, 9 Feb 2000] .Element 14 continued to develop its DSP products until it was purchased by Broadcomin November 2000 for £366 million ($594 million). [http://www.edn.com/article/CA50486.html Broadcom buys Element 14] , Electronic News, 9 Oct 2000]
operating systemdeveloped for Phoebe, RISC OS 4 – codename Ursula, was made available to Risc PC users by RISCOS Ltd, which licensed the operating system, and continues to develop, support and sell RISC OS today. However, the market is still competitive with two strands of the OS currently being developed. RISC OS 4 is available in 26-bit and 32-bitversions for the Acorn Risc PC and A7000+, as well as MicroDigital's and RiscStation's computers (Mico, Alpha, Omega, R7500s) plus the newly developed A9 range from AdvantageSix. It also works on the VirtualAcorn range of emulators. The 32-bit-only RISC OS 5 from Castle is used for their Iyonixcomputers and set-top boxes. Castle is currently considering to open-source their branch of the OS, hoping to achieve a re-unification of the two OS branches.
Revival of the Acorn trademark
:"See main article
Acorn Computers (2006)"In early 2006, the dormant Acorn trademark was licensed from the French company, Aristide & Co Antiquaire De Marques, by a new company based in Nottingham. [ [http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/DRS/2006/3682.html DRS Number 03682, Acorn Computers Limited and Roy Johnson, Nominet UK Dispute Resolution Service] and [http://wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk/1295b4d20fd04adea45e0f6fa7f3c128/compdetails Companies House WebCheck] ] This company, which manufactures Windows-only computers, has no connection with the original company.
List of Acorn Electron games
Microelectronics Education Programme
*"Personal Computer World review of the BBC Micro" (including details of BBC contract), December 1981 "Personal Computer World"
* [http://atterer.net/acorn/arm.html "ARM's Way"] (LISA influence, Berkeley RISC, Fabrication date), April 1988, "Electronics Weekly"
* [http://www.ot1.com/arm/armchap1.html "The history of the ARM CPU"] , taken from 'The ARM RISC Chip: A Programmers' Guide' by Carol Attack and Alex van Someren, published 1993 by Addison-Wesley.
* [http://www.stairwaytohell.com/articles/AU-AcornHistory.html "From Atom to ARC - The ups and downs of the development of Acorn"] , from October, November and December 1988 editions of "Acorn User".
* [http://www.realworldtech.com/page.cfm?ArticleID=RWT110900000000 "ARM’s Race to Embedded World Domination"] (Motorola 68000 was considered as a replacement to 6502), Paul DeMone, 2000
* [http://www.cs.clemson.edu/~mark/admired_designs.html#wilson "Sophie Wilson's most admired CPU"] (32016 chip as example of "how to completely make a mess of things"), Sophie Wilson
* [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0WVI/is_1998_Oct_5/ai_59214055 Flotation of Acorn on Unlisted Securities Market] , "Electronics Times", 6 October 1983
* [http://www.xs4all.nl/~fjkraan/comp/atom/history/index.html The Acorn Atom pre-history]
* [http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~theom/riscos/ RISC OS and Acorn pages]
* [http://home.casema.nl/hhaydn/index-uk.html Atom Review] documentation of the Atom and lots of extensions made by Dutch Atom clubs
* [http://www.acorncomputers.co.uk Acorn Computers] The website for the new Acorn Computers Ltd, note that this is a new company reviving the brand with modern Windows PCs, not linked to RISC OS
* [http://atterer.net/acorn.html About Acorn computers and ARM processors]
* [http://www.retromadness.com/acorn/ Acorn information] from Retro Madness, the museum of home computing and gaming
* [http://www.drobe.co.uk/reference/ Reference Material] of various RISC OS/Acorn Hardware (esp. scanned manuals as PDFs) at Drobe Launchpad
* [http://www.riscos.com RISC OS Ltd.] develop Acorn's OS under licence from Castle
* [http://www.advantagesix.co.uk AdvantageSix] develop computers and embedded systems for RISC OS
* [http://www.castle-technology.co.uk Castle Technology] are the current owners of RISC OS
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Acorn Computers — Год основания декабрь 1978 г. Расположение … Википедия
Acorn Computers — Acorn Computers, 1978 gegründeter britischer Computerhersteller, der 1987 mit dem Acorn Archimedes den ersten preiswerten 32 bit Computer und 1988 das erste 32 bit Betriebssystem RiscOS mit Fenstertechnik vorstellte. Für die Einführung und… … Universal-Lexikon
Acorn Computers — Este artículo trata sobre Acorn Computers. Para la actual usuaria de la marca que fabrica sólo ordenadores para Windows , véase Acorn Computers Ltd. Acorn Computers Lema The choice of experience Fundación Diciembre de 1978 … Wikipedia Español
Acorn Computers — Création 1978 Disparition 2000 Fondateurs Hermann Hauser Chris Cur … Wikipédia en Français
Acorn Computers Ltd — Este artículo trata sobre la actual Acorn Computers Ltd, fabricante de PCs. Para la creadora de los BBC Micro y la CPU ARM , véase Acorn Computers. Acorn Computers Limited Tipo sociedad limitada Fundación 2006 … Wikipedia Español
Acorn Computers (2006) — Infobox Company type = Computer hardware company name = Acorn Computers Limited company foundation = 2006 Years active = 2006 nbdashpresent location = Nottingham, England industry = Computer hardware products = deskBOOK series, sohoNOTE series,… … Wikipedia
Acorn Computers Ltd — Acorn Acorn est une entreprise britannique qui a construit des micro ordinateurs de 1978 jusqu à 2000. Elle est devenue célèbre dans les années 1980 avec son best seller, le BBC Micro, qui devint l un des micro ordinateurs les plus vendus du… … Wikipédia en Français
Acorn Computers Ltd — … Википедия
Acorn User — magazine was founded by Acorn Computers in 1982, contract published by Addison Wesley, to coincide with the launch of the BBC Micro. It later became an independent publication, published by Redwood Publishing. It covered the range of Acorn home… … Wikipedia
Acorn Archimedes — Acorn Archimedes … Википедия