Acorn and Risc Pc

Latest Show - Wakefield 2003 (England)
was held at Thornes Park Athletics Stadium on 10th May 2003.

Click here for the Homepage.


Because it was the first public showing of the RiscStation here is a report from my (now discontinued) MAUG page.

Report on October '99 Meeting

The MAUG meeting was the first public viewing of the new RiscStation R7500 'network' computer that will be renamed the RiscStation Lite.

The first part of the evening was a talk given by Steve Turnbull of Tau Press.

Steve has been editor of both Acorn User and The Micro User (later Acorn Computing) and more recently he formed 'Tau Press.' - now famous for holding their first Board meeting on the day Acorn pulled the plug on Phoebe.
Although I found Steve's talk about his early involvment in DTP and the Acorn Magazine market interesting, there came over a strong feeling that this had been a very difficult year for Tau Press although Steve himself was trying to put a brave face on it.

During the questions and answer session Steve explained the many problems involved with changes to distribution and subscriptions and most the suggestions made from the floor had he said been already looked at and been found to be either unworkable or too costly. Althougth he was reluctant to say too much did have plans to promote the magazine alongside new machines and that this promised to be the best opportunity to expand readership along with increased size of the RISCOS market itself. As to the lack of magazines in the shops Steve said that at least for the next three months the magazine should be easier to find.

The second part of the night was given over to the new RiscStation machine.

Because of sourcing problems the PCI version of the RiscStation will be delayed until Spring 2000 and the machine now coming to market had be intended to be developed after the PCI version.
In fact this 'networked' version of the RiscStation 7500 has only been in development for twelve weeks but may well be on sale at the RISCOS '99 show at the end of October. The name will now be 'RiscStation 7500Lite (Not sure of the spelling (ie. Light) and it will ship without a harddrive for 399 UKPs (Ex. VAT) or 499UKPs with 4Gig drive. Monitors and a 40 speed CD Rom drive are extras. However these prices could still change and anyone interested should check the RiscStation website for the latest details.

The machines come with 16 Mbs of EDO Ram (there is a spare Ram socket) two serial ports (although one is internal) PS2 keyboard and mouse connectors, two analogue joystick ports (for up to four joysticks) two Midi ports, microphone input and a ISA slot.
The machine will support high screen resolutions up to 1600x1200x256 colours with 50ns EDO Ram fitted.

As to the PCI model there has been a delay but this has at least given time for Simtec to look at the possible support of 64bit PCI (that's the second generation PCI giving double the throughput.)
All in all this was a very upbeat presentation with two machines being demonstrated at the end of the night.

I think everyone there including Steve Turnbull felt more confident about the future of RISCOS computing by the end of the night.


Odyssey

23rd. Aug. '99 - Castle Technology update the 7000+

Castle announced today a NEW faster version of the A7000+ computer.

The NEW A7000+ ODYSSEY computer features the new, faster version of the ARM 7500FE processor with increased performance of up to 70% to 50 MIPS (compared to the original A7000+'s published speed of around 29 MIPS).
The new faster computer also has higher specification screen modes. eg a 640x480 mode can now display16 million colours, a 1024x768 mode can display 32 thousand colours and a 1280x1024 mode can display 256 colours.

RISC OS 4:- Castle have also added to option for RISC OS 4 to the A7000+ ODYSSEY giving up to 49% speed increase.
The new A7000+ Odyssey will be available from mid September 1999. Price range of the two models goes from 449UKPs+VAT to 699UKPs+VAT.

Tel: 01728 723200 Fax: 01728 621179

Email: sales@castle.org.uk


30Th June '99 - Some Specs for Millipede's 'Imago' concept motherboard

Main features

Although the motherboard is almost ready Millipede have announced thet won't have a board to show at the South-East Show (England) on the 3rd. July '99.

Latest Specs for the 'RiscStation' as of 13th. June '99

Now named the 'RiscStation+' the newest specs I have found state and are correct as far as I can be sure.

Check my M.A.U.G. page for newer info.M.A.U.G. Page
Or leave my site and check latest details from RiscStation themselves. http://www.riscstation.co.uk

Technical Specification
Processor 50 mips 7500FPE (with floating point)
Memory 16Mb 60ns EDO - Max 256Mb - Fast memory option
4Mb (20Mb) Flash memory containing RISCOS 4
Hard Drive 4.3GB EIDE
CD ROM 40x Atapi EIDE
Case Micro ATX in Desktop or Mini / Midi Tower

Operating Sys RISCOS 4
1/0 Devices lx 10baseT Network Port with Wake On LAN
1 x Parallel Port
2 x Serial Port
1 x Onboard infrared Port
2 x High Speed IDE Ports (4 drives)
Midi In/Out/Through Ports
16 Bit Stereo Sound Sampler & Mixer
1 x PC Style Game Port
3 Audio Connections - line in/Mic in/Headphone out
4 x 32 Bit PCI Slots
Ps2 Style Keyboard
3-Button Ps2 Style Mouse

Software:- Includes all RISC OS 4 distribution software
Easiwriter Professional
MIDI Software
Over 1GB of additional software and resources
And other packages yet to be announced

The machine will be available with 14", 15" & 17" monitors or as a stand alone base unit only.

Strong ARM Co-Processor Upgrades

The StrongARM co-processors are available in single or multiple board configurations.
The single board comprises of a 233Mhz SA11O (268 Dhrystone MIPS) with the option of 32 or 64 Mbytes of SDRAM.
The multiple processor board comprises of 1 to 8 233Mhz SA11O with the option of 32 or 64 Mbytes of SDRAM each, a maximum of 512 Mb memory per card.
This gives a Maximum potential of 2,144 Dhrystone MIPS per board. It is sugessted that no more than 3 boards per machine should be used, (6,432 Dhystone MIPS, 1536 Mb memory per card).
At this time RISCOS is not supported. However there are currently base drivers available.
It is hoped that we will be able to provide or facilitate support for RISCOS (co-processor as per BBC micros, full support requires a hardware independant version of RISCOS). It is also envisaged that Linux will also be supported.

Computer prices
Monitor Sterling Euro (as or 28.5.99)
Base only £579 +vat 891.66 +vat
14 " £649 +vat 999.46 +vat
15 " £675 +vat 1039.50 +vat
17 " £749 +vat 1153.46 +vat

These Prices remain unchanged from previous specification
Further details:-
info@riscstation.co.uk
http://www.riscstation.co.uk

Specifications update
* ISA Ports dropped in favour of PCI
* Improved power saving functions inc. W.O.R.
The following are in development and will be available as upgrades;
* StrongARM cards available.(not currently RISCOS aware)
* StrongARM multi processor carrier, taking up to 8x SA 110 233Mhz cards, 233 SA110 processor 32/64 Mb SD RAM (not currently Riscos aware)
* PC Pentium grade co-processor card
* Scsi PCI card
* 100 baseT networkcard.
* Mpeg decode/encode (DVD)
* USB
* 56K Modem with Wake On Ring
* ISDNModem
* 3DFX 'Voodoo' 3.5 graphics card accelerator
* Video digitiser.
* 16Mb Flash ROM upgrade
* High speed EDO memory


Wakefield announcement (added 16th April '99) there will a new company RiscStation at the Wakefield Show, they will be taking orders/selling one of the new computers.

RiscStation's announcement says:

'New Arm7500 FPE machine from RiscStation. RiscStation will be displaying the latest on there new exciting "entry" level machine for the Risc OS market.

Utilising Risc OS 4 from RiscOS Ltd. this is the first ARM machine from RiscStation to enter the market. The machine has many new features which RiscStation intend to build on.'

See first pictures of the two RiscStation models below PLUS:- Details of machines Spec posted on 4th May '99.(See Top of page for Newest Info)

RiscStation Desktop RiscStation Tower

Specifications of the R7500 released for the first time.
This is the first machine from RiscStation Ltd. and will be available in both Desktop (closeup) and Tower (closeup) configurations.
Processor :56MHz 7500FPE (50 mips)
Memory :16Mbytes 60ns EDO RAM (with a 25ns option for greater speed)
8Mb Flash memory for RISC OS 4. This makes for easy updating as OS updates can be be downloaded from the Internet or from a disc and can be simply reapplied to the 'ROMs'.
These first two items plus the use of RISC OS 4 offering at least a 25% increase of speed it looks like the R7500 should be over twice as fast than the old A7000+ machine.
Hard drive :IDE Hard drive 4.3 GB with lots of extra Goodies supplied.
CD-ROM :IDE 40x speed
Case :Desktop or Mini-Tower micro ATX PC style case
Operating System :RISC OS 4 from RISCOS Ltd.
Communication devices :
1x Parallel port for Printers, Zip drives, Scanners, etc.
1x 10baseT network port as standard (with Wake On LAN)
2x Serial ports
2x High Speed IDE Ports (for up to 4 drives)
2x MIDI ports for Music users.
1x sound sampler
1x PC style game port for Joysticks, etc.
1x Infra-Red port (requires optional expansion)
3 or 4 ISA style ports (16/32 bits)
The use of PC style ISA ports to allow standard PC cards to be used in the R7500 is a welcome addition.
'Podules' in Acorn machines were always overly expensive to manufacture as Acorn developers have had to design their own cards instead of making use of the millions of cards already out there in PC-Land. Some of the first cards that are going to be made available is 56K V90 modem card, USB and a low-cost SCSI card.
Software :
Includes all RISC OS 4 distribution. See RISCOS Ltd site for details.
Easywriter word processor with MSWord Read/Write support.
MIDI software
Other to be anounced packages plus over 1GB of additional software and resources.
Optional software upgrade packs: 10 out of 10 pack (18 titles) £49 + VAT
The R7500 will come supplied with a PS/2 Keyboard and three button mouse and the machine will be available with 14", 15" & 17" monitors or as a base unit only.
If required RiscStation would also consider supplying a floppy only version.
The cost?
An amazing £576 + VAT.
There will also be a voucher system for pre-orders. Put £50 down and you'll get £100 knocked off the price.
Hopefully this technology will be on show at the Acorn Wakefield Show 99. Delivery of product to customers is estimated to be in July.
RiscStation Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of CTA Direct (Curriculum Training Associates).
For further enquirys please contact CTA on 01942 797777


'The Mico'- developed by MicroDigital.

June '99 Update:- MicroDigital have now replaced the Medi with the 'Mico' which has a greatly improved Spec.
Main points are:-
ARM 7500FE processor at Clock Soeed of 56Mhz.
16Mb EDO Ram with 5Mbs Flash Rom.
Enhanced 16 bit sound support including Midi support.
Ultra IDE support for 4 Devices (High transfer rates up to 23Mbs om burst.)
Expansion and interfaces well supported (ie. PS2,USB,Audio in/out,Games/Midi etc.)
Screen Resolution up to 256 colours 1280x1024.
40 Speed CDRom optional
Can be bought with monitor in a number of configerations - CDs, larder Harddisc, Desktop or Tower system box.
The above is an outline Spec only. For up-to-date info visit the MicroDigital Website at:-
http://www.focus-it.co.uk/

See both pictures below. (Medi first and the newly named Mico second)

Medi Mico


Wakefield Acorn Computer User Group announced that RISCOS Ltd will be at the Wakefield Show over the weekend of May 15/16.


Acorn Risc Computers

Latest update (7th April '99.) extracted from ANS
1) RISC OS 4 technical briefing - Barry Tompson attended a meeting on 19th March, between RISCOS Ltd., dealers, developers, and user group committee members. He has kindly provided ANS with notes on the meeting, on which the following is based.

Information on possible new hardware mentioned on ANS not included here.

Info dated - 6th March '99. The RISCOS Foundation have secured the rights to develop RISCOS4. This is the best news we have had for a long time in the Acorn World.

Check out their website for breaking news at:- http://www.riscos.com/

NEWS: From: Paul Middleton

RISCOS Ltd announce the launch of The RISCOS Foundation (Posted 14th Feb 1999)

The recently formed RISCOS Ltd would like to announce the first of its new initiatives to re-vitalise the RISC OS market - The RISCOS Foundation ("Foundation").

This is a brand new yearly membership scheme to replace the Acorn Clan. The formal launch will take place at the Acorn Southwest Show on 20th February 1999. The Foundation will be the new focus for users who want to keep up with the latest news about the RISC OS market and see the continued development of RISC OS through into a full 32 bit version for the new millenium. Membership will cost £25 + VAT (for existing Clan members) or £30 + VAT for new members.

Members will receive a Newsletter 4 times per year as well as a CD-ROM of the latest RISC OS software, shareware, commercial demo's etc twice per year. For non-professional coders there will be a chance for Foundation members to subscribe to an e-mail based developer support scheme later in the year. The first 100 subscribers will receive, free of charge, an A1 sized poster showing contact details of all the companies involved in the RISC OS Community worldwide.

Membership applications or queries should be sent to:-

mailto:foundation@riscos.com

Initial membership fees can be paid by Credit Card or by Post to:-

The RISCOS Foundation:- 3 Clarendon Road, Cardiff, CF3 7JD

Update: RISC OS 4 is to be made available as an upgrade. Because there are a number of features that relate to file management and harddiscs it is likely that the upgrade will be done by dealers. Possible cost anything up to and including 120UKPs.


Info dated 26th. January '99- New Company RISC OS Ltd formed.

The Steering Group have announced that a new company to be called RISCOS Ltd has been formed following discussions, initially with Acorn Computers, and now Element 14 Ltd over the future marketing and development of RISC OS 4.


Steering Group

Laurie van Someren Aleph One Limited

Chris Evans CJE Micros

Bernard Bollons Si-Plan Electronic Research Ltd

Paul Middleton Uniqueway Ltd

The idea is to promote RISC OS via a new company in a similar way that Acorns in house ARM chip was eventually developed into the hugely successful company that is now ARM Ltd. This is so that the company can promote, develop and sell RISC OS to the World as a mature and very stable OS.

At this time however it is all in the discussion stage and talks are on going with a final outcome not really expected before the end of the year. A name for the new company has not been decided yet.

No doubt if this deal is signed and sealed then we can expect even more exciting new products to be launched onto the computer market using RISC OS, a secure environment will be provided for existing third party developers to continue to support our favourite Operating System and we can look forward to a secure future for the development of RISC OS to full 32bit operation, ARM-10 and beyond in the 21st Century!

Happy Christmas folks!

Source: Steering Group (viz. Acorn Cybervillage News)

Bob Charlton


See added report (12th June from M.A.U.G. Meeting.) I will try to add details of their specs at a later date.


'The Netwinder'- another StrongARM powered machine announced this time by Corel.Operating System to be Linux. See picture below.

Netwinder


'The Peanut'- yet another machine announced - also based on the A7000+ - more details to be added here soon!. See picture below.

Peanut


Two books I found useful in getting going with the Internet and Web pages are:-

"The Internet & World Wide Web - The Rough Guide 2.0" by Angus. J .Kennedy (ISBN 1-85828-216-0 Price U.K.£ 5.00, U.S.A.$8.00)

Version 3 of the Rough Guide now out - Nov '98 (ISBN 1-85828-288-8)

"Instant HTML - Programmer's Reference" by Steve Wright ( ISBN 1-861000-76-6 Price U.K.£13.99 U.S.A.$15.00 )


Here is some info on useful Acorn software. Click on either of the next two buttons to go to my Acorn links page.

InerGif screen
InterGif 6.08

This is the control window of Intergif 6.This program makes producing animated gifs very simple.

Intergif 6.07 dated 17th. April '99.new


Creator screen

Creator 3.22 

This is a simple file format-changer that is totally

drag and drop.

The author is John Kortink. This and other software is available on his site.

buttonClick for list of Acorn links

Another program useful for creating web pages is Texture Garden by Tim Tyler. This program can help you make background tiles, buttons -

Texture Garden screen

even animated gifs!

button

Also try out John Alldred's !Validator program that will check the HTML code you have on your website. His web address is:-

"http://www.argonet.co.uk/users/protovale/john.html"

buttonClick for Acorn Software links including !Validator.


Acorn's Phoebe/Risc Pc II

Risc Pc II

Details of Risc Pc II - unlikely to be built now - details left here for us fans to weep over. (See top of this page for latest developments.)

They are based on my understanding of what was said at Wakefield - so no guarantees as to how accurate these details are.

The Risc 4 desktop and case looked good at the show but all the hardware was not in the machines so no idea as to how fast they will run but they are expected to be 3 to 4 times as fast with same StrongArm chip as Risc Pc.

Talk on the Acorn Newsgroups in late August suggest that there is now another change of heart over the naming of this new machine - the search for a new name may be on again!

64Mhz motherboard 32 SRRAM 4(EDO)VRAM 6.4 GIG Harddisc

3 old sytle podules, 4 PCI slots, 32 speed CD Rom and 230W power unit.

New Risc OS 4 allowing file names of up to 255 letters (truncation can be user set)

80,000 items per directory new LFU harddisc making large discs waste less space (for any given size disc the block size will 16 times smaller! ie instead of 32k blocks - 2k blocks) will support harddiscs up to 128 Gigs!!! :-)

Tidy up of desktop with new 'bring to the front window' to support built in screen saver.

A new 'minimise' button on window frames.

Two serial ports , joystick port Midi in/out, parallel port inproved Vidc20 getting twice the video speed (1600*1200*36,000 cols) Microphone in socket

EIDE harddisc interface to level 4 (ie 16Mbs per second) supporting 4 devices.

On sale as from September with or without Iiyma 15in monitor (1500 plus VAT without monitor) but at show they said that as prices of things like harddiscs kept dropping these specs/prices could alter.

Here is some newer info from the June 98 M.A.U.G. meeting.

Report on June Meeting

The last meeting of the Manchester Acorn User Group before the Summer break was held at 6:45pm on Tuesday 9th June (Main Debating Hall - Manchester University Students' Union Building.)

Russell Scoates and Dave Walker from Acorn brought along (unfortunately) a non-working Phoebe 2100 prototype. At a demonstration the week before in Holland - 'The BigBen Club Show?' - the Vidic20 had blown.

However the talks given by both and the full and frank way in which they answered many questions about the new hardware and software made the meeting very informative.

Apart from a few areas where 'non-disclosure' agreements held back the free flow of information a number of details of the new machine were clarified.

  • The first batch of a hundred or so machines will go to software developers and suppliers.
  • The second batch of two hundred and fifty should ship in late August giving a final chance to sort out any last-minute problems before ramping up to full scale production.
  • Hopefully September or possibly early October - but definately in time for the Acorn show - Phoebe goes into full production.
  • The machine will definately ship with a 6.4 Gig Harddrive.
  • At least four PCI cards software drivers are already being developed - PC,SCSI,Grapics and Video.
  • The speed of the serial links will be doubled to 200,000 bps.
  • The speed if the Vidic chip is also doubled to 200Mhz (1600 by 1200 in 256 cols hopefully.)
  • The Risc OS 4 will be in 4Mbs of ROM but this will soft load into Ram on boot-up to give faster operation.
  • There is a link on the motherboard that would allow the ROM to be increased to 8 Mbs.
  • As well as side access to the inside of the machine it is possible to lay the machine on it's side and then the bottom panel can be flipped back to allow the motherboard to side out.
  • A CD Rom with a full copy of the software shipped on the harddisc is very likely. Also being considered is loading a large batch of Shareware and Demo software on the harddisc.
  • Some decisions have yet to be made on other software to be included free ie Replay3.
  • Also being considered is whether some form of upgrade voucher will be provided ensuring a fixed cost upgrade to a higher spec StrongArm daughter-board if or when one becomes available.
  • Already there are reports of chips being developed that will hopefully run at 360 Mhz.(see top of page)


Here is a brief history of my interest in computers.

One of my main interests since 1982 has been computing. Like many of my age group that interest started with the 'BBC Computer Show' and the ordering of a BBC Model B Microcomputer. ( This relates to the BBC starting computer education in the UK in the early 80's. It wasn't long before I was doing my version of "Hello World" using BBC Basic. But of course this was a tape based system with only 28K of useable memory and to write useful programs needed better programing skills than I had. Yet this machine had one of the 'best' games ever written for it - 'Elite.'

I also took my computer into school and was very active in pushing the use of computers in Primary school. In the years that followed I used PenDown, Logo, D.U.S.T. and Droom (adventures with maths,) Granny's Garden, Editext ( a Teletext page maker ) and other programs before taking part in trials of TTNS ( The Times Network for Schools )

That was many years ago now but I moved on from the BBC Micro to the A3000 ( with 2Mgs of Ram Arm3 and a Vidc enhancer ) and now with an all SCSI StrongArm 50Mg Risc PC with a 586 Pc Card. RISCOS4 fitted and now a 2nd 4.2 Gig SCSI Harddisc (adding to the 2.1 Gig harddisc and 12-speed CD Rom drive)

Just had the A3000 upgraded with a Simtec Harddisc interface and 340 Mg Harddisc - and it's back in use in my son's room. I don't think many PC owners would be still making use of a computer from the late eighties!

Although I use the computer in a number of ways the last year has been taken up with the Internet. Because of that I have kept the following list down to related software for the moment.


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