Acorn Archimedes A3020

The Acorn Archimedes series was the evolution of the famous BBC computers. This is a British machine that got very little attention outside of the UK. The machine is interesting for several reasons: it uses a RISC processor (ARM 250) which was pretty unique for the time. The Archimedes was actually the first home computer line to use a RISC processor and at the time of its release (Archimedes A305) the ARM 2 RISC (8Mhz) was about seven times faster than a Amiga 500 (68000 CPU). However, when the A3020 was released in 1992 the A1200’s MC68EC020 had narrowed the gap and the A1200 had a few advantages over the A3020 like support for more memory and higher resolution.

In any case, this is a great machine that feels very advanced for 1992. The RISC OS is very snappy and it looks awesome:

The machine I got has an internal hard disk as well as an external zip drive device. It was not a very expensive machine to get but the shipping costs from the UK are a killer. The good news is that there is a VGA output that works just fine with new LCD monitors (even though some older games don’t display correctly – I will post about this later) and the machine itself is fairly compact. The case is in good shape and the keyboard is just slightly yellowed.

Overall I am very happy with the A3020 and I am looking forward to get to know more about the software released for the Archimedes.

Technical Specs:

NAME Archimedes A3020
MANUFACTURER Acorn Computer
ORIGIN United Kingdom
YEAR 1992
BUILT IN LANGUAGE BBC BASIC / RISC OS 3.1
KEYBOARD Full-stroke PC-102 style
CPU ARM 250 32 bit RISC
SPEED 12 MHz
CO-PROCESSOR MEMC (memory), VIDC (Video and Sound), IOC (I/O)
RAM 2 MB (up to 4Mb possible with socketed zip ram chips)
ROM 1 MB
Video Modes Text Modes: 132 chars. x 32 lines maximum; Graphic Modes: 21 screen modes, including: 640×480 (256 colours), 640 x 512 (256 colours), 800×600 (16 colours), 896×352 (256 colours), 1280×960 (monochrome)
SOUND 8 voices
I/O PORTS Centronics, RS423, VGA, Network, 1 expansion slot
BUILT IN MEDIA One 3.5
PRICE £749 with floppy, £899 with a 60Mb hard disk.

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