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Thread: Acorn A3000

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    Default Acorn A3000

    Finally got around to getting my Acorn A3000 sorted out. I've been sick and it has spent the last four years under my bed. That was when I cleaned up all the battery mess. The battries on these are quite aways from the mobo thank goodness. The last piece of the puzzle was a 14-9 pin vga cable which I managed to find in my cable out in the shed. The British Broadcasting Corporation MiniComputer System aka Acorn A3000 is a personal computer from 1989 mainly used in British Isles and downunder. It's running Acorn RiscOS 3.11(from Sep '92 so it had been undated at some point) and sports 2meg (also an upgrade from the original 1meg) of ram. The A3000 uses an 8MHz ARM2 cpu. With the OS being in rom it boots up fairly smartly. The FDD accepts IBM PC Fat12, Atari format and a couple of Acorn formats. I've been very sick for the last four or so years so it's been under the bed since I tidied up the battery corrosion. There is the possibility of fitting a HDD. Just just need the right 2.5" hdd module.These have the batteries far away from the mobo. I'm a very happy wee chappy indeedy. Found an original boxy looking Logitech Acorn mouse in an icecream container with old PC mice. The connector housing was a wonky so that got sorted out and it works fine and dandy.

    Found a couple of Acorn PC emulators I one of my Acorn software boxes. Acorn PC emulators come in two types. Multi-tasking which run windowed and single user which will take over the moniter full screen like booting from a x86 system. There was an Acorn copy of MS Dos 3.3. Both emulators booted from the MS Dos 3.3 disk just fine. I had a copy of Elecvtrinic Arts Arcade Bonanza Pak II from 1986 which is two 750k diskettes so ran that in a multi-tasking MSDos 3.11session on RiscOS 3.11 .
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    Last edited by Caluser2000; September 4th, 2019 at 02:04 AM.
    Thomas Byers (DRI)- "You'll have a million people using the A> [MS-DOS prompt] forever. You'll have five million using [nongraphic] menu systems such as Topview, Concurrent PC-DOS, Desq, and those types. But there'll be 50 to 100 million using the iconic-based interfaces."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Caluser2000 View Post
    Found a couple of Acorn PC emulators I one of my Acorn software boxes. Acorn PC emulators come in two types. Multi-tasking which run windowed and single user which will take over the moniter full screen like booting from a x86 system.
    Dunno, on my RISC-PC/600 I only have "!PC" (v308 is the only compatible with RISCOS 4.39), and it requires an x86-CPU guest installed in the machine. Microsoft v5 and v6.22 run decently, but, it's written here and there that the IBM PC-DOS is the best supported. There is a bug on the serial line concerning the handshake. It's not clear to me if it's in the hardware, or if it's in the BIOS used to support the PC-guest card.

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    Well RiscPCs from the out set have a slot for a x86 co-processor card. In !PC you create a file/folder that acts as the guest OSs hard drive. Licensed copies of PC Dos 6.2 were bundled with !PC. And Dr Dos 5/6 and MS Dos 3.x prior to that on earlier systems. There are about half a dozen x86 co-processor cards for the RiscPC, which one did you have? Windows 9x runs well on the higher end ones with plenty of ram. I've about 1/2 a dozen RiscPCs in various configurations and never had a serial issue wrt x86 co-pros. You might want to take that issue up with a dedicated Acorn forum to try and sort it out.
    Last edited by Caluser2000; October 4th, 2019 at 04:24 PM.
    Thomas Byers (DRI)- "You'll have a million people using the A> [MS-DOS prompt] forever. You'll have five million using [nongraphic] menu systems such as Topview, Concurrent PC-DOS, Desq, and those types. But there'll be 50 to 100 million using the iconic-based interfaces."

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    Didn't the Acorn also have an option for a NSC 32016 board?

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    I'll have to check Chuck but Acorn and the peripheral suppliers provided a lot of components to interact with other set ups. Lots of stuff at Chris's Acorn page http://chrisacorns.computinghistory.org.uk/ The most definitive source of Acorn risc related products.
    Thomas Byers (DRI)- "You'll have a million people using the A> [MS-DOS prompt] forever. You'll have five million using [nongraphic] menu systems such as Topview, Concurrent PC-DOS, Desq, and those types. But there'll be 50 to 100 million using the iconic-based interfaces."

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    Found it:

    Acorn ACN05 second processor

    Interesting that they used the DIP version of the CPU instead of the PLCC.

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    Cool. Acorn was always good at playing with other architectures. A reason I'm more interested in them than a lot of other types.
    Thomas Byers (DRI)- "You'll have a million people using the A> [MS-DOS prompt] forever. You'll have five million using [nongraphic] menu systems such as Topview, Concurrent PC-DOS, Desq, and those types. But there'll be 50 to 100 million using the iconic-based interfaces."

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    Quote Originally Posted by ivelegacy View Post
    Dunno, on my RISC-PC/600 I only have "!PC" (v308 is the only compatible with RISCOS 4.39), and it requires an x86-CPU guest installed in the machine. Microsoft v5 and v6.22 run decently, but, it's written here and there that the IBM PC-DOS is the best supported. There is a bug on the serial line concerning the handshake. It's not clear to me if it's in the hardware, or if it's in the BIOS used to support the PC-guest card.
    From what I understand, Acorn wrote a software PC emulator for its Archimedes range at first (as wll as an emulator of their 6502-based BBC Micro), and talked about an expansion card with hardware emulation, though this never materialised. Third-party manufacturers (such as Aleph One) stepped in with their own hardware-based solutions.

    By the time the RISC-PC replaced the Archimedes line, the Windows GUI was dominating the marketplace, and releasing a new platform without the option of hardware compatability wasn't an option, hence the facility for x86 processor cards. These were strictly guest processors rather than coprocessors: their entire domain was an application window on the RISC OS desktop.

    It may be possible to run the old software emulator on a RISC PC, depending on compatability with older software written for ARM processors that used a 26-bit program counter. Certainly, the supported (and sane) option was to use a PC Card with an x86 processor on it.

    I asked a related question (on Acorn's design choices with co-processors) on Retrocomputing Stack Exchange a few months ago. Among the answers is one of my own, where I collected what I learned when researching the topic myself. You may find the answers interesting.

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