Martin Angove's Utterly Pointless Pages

The RiscOS pages index

News of these pages

Well. Things are changing almost daily on the Acorn / RiscOS front, so I'm not quite sure what to do with these pages. At the moment, all the old stuff is still there, but it really is old stuff.

Acorn was a company formed in the late 1970s in Cambridge building first kits and then assembled computers based on the 6502 processor. After the System 1 and the Atom they developed the Proton to become the official microcomputer of a series of educational television programmes in the early 1980s. This computer was the BBC Micro, or more commonly the 'Beeb'.

Totally ignoring the 16-bit revolution heralded by the ST and Amiga, in 1987 Acorn launched what was probably the first RISC-based computer aimed at the desktop market. It was called the Archimedes and was powered by a 32-bit Acorn RISC Machine processor, or ARM. Discarding the computer's original operating system about a year later, RISC OS 2 was launched followed later by RiscOS 3, various versions of which are 'current'.

At some point the design team responsible for the processor was floated in a company owned jointly by Acorn, Apple and VLSI. Since then that company has cornered a huge share of the embedded processor market, primarily with the ARM6 and 7 cores. Before selling out to Intel, Digital helped develop the StrongARM processor which is what is powering the computer I use daily.

Obviously Acorn never cornered quite the market that Microsoft did, or even that Apple did, though before the Macintosh was established there were probably more Acorn computers in Britain than Apples. To cut a very very long story short, Acorn had developed to within two weeks of launch a new desktop computer and then... dumped the entire division responsible for it.

The Acorn-using community is now recovering from that decision, with various parties involved in various ways - one dealer has bought exclusive rights to continue selling the current range (which they will continue to produce), several groups are developing or even selling new hardware, and a bunch of people led by Paul Middleton of Uniqueway in Cardiff have formed RISCOS Ltd and the RiscOS Foundation to continue developing the operating system.

There are many sites around the place extolling the virtues of RiscOS, so rather than do that myself I will simply provide links. However, before starting, take a look at these two grabs from the front page of this site...

Screenshot from Netscape Navigator running under Windows 95 with Microsoft's so-called Font Smoothing installedScreenshot from ArcWeb running under Risc OS 3.7 using Acorn's Antialiasing Fonts

The picture on the left is a screen grab from Netscrape running under Windows 95 OSR2 with Microsoft's Font Smoothing pack installed. On the right, is almost the same selection (I grabbed it after changing the text, silly me) grabbed from an ArcWeb window running under Risc OS 3.7 on my Risc PC using the built-in antialiasing font system.

What I can't understand is that MSFS has 'smoothed' the larger text in the heading which is in less need of it, while leaving the smaller text alone.

Acorn users have been taking advantage of fully-scalable antialiased, hinted and scaffolded fonts like this since Risc OS 3 came out in 1990 or 1991 (I can't remember) in the days when Windows still relied on Adobe Type Manager.


The Old Stuff