Acorn Computers Ltd. was a British computer company established in
Cambridge, England, in 1978. The company produced a number of
computers which were especially popular in the UK, including the Acorn
Electron and the Acorn Archimedes. Acorn's
BBC Micro computer
dominated the UK educational computer market during the 1980s. It
is more known for its
BBC Micro model B computer than for its other
Though the company was broken up into several independent operations
in 1998, its legacy includes the development of reduced instruction
set computing (RISC) personal computers. One of its operating systems,
RISC OS, continues to be developed by
RISC OS Open. Some of Acorn's
former subsidiaries lived on:
ARM Holdings technology is dominant in
the mobile phone and personal digital assistant (PDA) microprocessor
Acorn is sometimes referred to as the "British Apple" and has
been compared to
Fairchild Semiconductor for being a catalyst for
start-ups. In 2010, the company was listed by David Meyer in
ZDNet as number nine in a feature of top ten fallen "Dead IT
giants". Many British IT professionals gained their early
experiences on Acorns, which were often more technically advanced than
commercially successful US hardware.
1.1 Early history
1.1.1 CPU Ltd. (1978–83)
1.1.2 The microcomputer systems
1.1.3 The Atom
BBC Micro and the Electron
1.2 1983–1985: Acorn Computer Group
1.2.1 New RISC architecture
1.2.2 Financial problems
BBC Master and Archimedes
1.3.2 ARM Ltd.
1.3.3 Acorn Pocket Book
1.3.4 Set-top boxes
1.3.6 Xemplar Education
1.3.7 Network Computers
1.4 1998–2000: Element 14
1.6 Revival of the Acorn trademark
1.7 2018 Acorn Revival
2 Popular culture
2.1 TV Series
3 See also
6 External links
On 25 July 1961,
Clive Sinclair founded
Sinclair Radionics to 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
government body the
National Enterprise Board (NEB) for help.[citation
needed] After losing control of the company to the NEB, Sinclair
Chris Curry to leave Radionics and get Science of Cambridge
(SoC—an early name for Sinclair Research) up and running. In June
1978, SoC launched a microcomputer kit, the Mk 14, that Curry wanted
to develop further, but Sinclair could not be persuaded so Curry
resigned. During the development of the Mk 14, Hermann Hauser, a
friend of Curry's, had been visiting SoC's offices and had grown
interested in the product.
CPU Ltd. (1978–83)
Hermann Hauser and
Chris Curry in Cambridge
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
National Semiconductor SC/MP
National Semiconductor SC/MP microprocessor, but soon
the switch to a
MOS Technology 6502
MOS Technology 6502 was made.
The microcomputer systems
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CPU had financed the development of a SC/MP 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. The microcomputer kit was named
as Acorn System 75. Acorn was chosen because the microcomputer system
was to be expandable and growth-oriented. It also had the attraction
of appearing before "Apple Computer" in a telephone directory.
March 1979 price list
Around this time, CPU and
Andy Hopper set up Orbis Ltd. to
Cambridge Ring networking 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 System 1, upper board; this one was shipped on 9 April 1979.
The Acorn Microcomputer, later renamed the Acorn System 1, was
Sophie Wilson (then Roger Wilson). It was a
semi-professional system aimed at engineering and laboratory users,
but its price was low enough, at around GB£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 Eurocard connector.
The System 2 made it easier to expand the system by putting the CPU
card from the System 1 in a 19-inch (480 mm) 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
The System 3 moved on by adding floppy disk support, 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.
Main article: Acorn Atom
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Development of the
Sinclair ZX80 started at Science of
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 Fens on 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 computer to 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 Boothroyd to 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 1980s—the relatively successful Acorn Atom. A
Business model called the 'Prophet' was produced at this time.
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
BBC Micro and Acorn Electron
BBC micro released by Acorn in 1981
After the Atom had been released into the market, Acorn contemplated
16-bit processors 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".
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
In early 1980, the
BBC Further Education department conceived the idea
of a computer literacy programme, mostly as a follow-up to an ITV
documentary, The Mighty Micro, in which
Dr Christopher Evans from the
UK National Physical Laboratory predicted the coming microcomputer
revolution. It was a very influential documentary—so much so
that questions were asked in parliament. As a result of these
Department of Industry
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
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 1980–82, the British Department of Education and Science (DES)
had begun the
Microelectronics Education Programme to introduce
microprocessing concepts and educational materials. In 1981 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. Schools were offered 50 per cent
of the cost of computers, providing they chose one of three models:
ZX Spectrum or Research Machines 380Z. In parallel, the
DES continued to fund more materials for the computers, such as
software and applied computing projects, plus teacher training.
The Electron, Acorn's sub-£200 competitor to the ZX Spectrum
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 in December 1981 as the
BBC Micro. In April 1984, Acorn won
Queen's Award for Technology for 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
Principal creators of the
BBC micro in 2008, some 26 years after its
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 uncommitted logic array (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 became
more known for its
BBC Micro model B than for its other products.
In 2008, the
Computer Conservation Society
Computer Conservation Society organised an event at
London's Science Museum to mark the legacy of the
BBC Micro. A number
BBC Micro's principal creators were present, and Sophie Wilson
recounted to the
Hermann Hauser tricked her and Steve Furber
to agree to create the physical prototype in less than five days.
Also in 2008 a number of former staff organised a reunion event to
mark the 30th anniversary of the company's formation.
1983–1985: Acorn Computer Group
BBC Micro sold well—so much so that Acorn's profits rose from
£3000 in 1979 to £8.6m in July 1983. In September 1983, CPU shares
were liquidated and Acorn was floated on the Unlisted Securities
Market as 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's stakes in the
new company were worth £64m and £51m, respectively.
New RISC architecture
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Main article: ARM architecture
Even from the time of the Atom, Acorn were considering how to move on
from the 6502 processor: the
Acorn Communicator developed in
1985, using the 65816 being a key example.
IBM PC was 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/M machines 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,
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 interrupt response
times of the
Motorola 68000 were too slow to handle the communication
protocol that the host 6502-based
BBC Micro coped with easily. The
National Semiconductor 32016-based model of the ABC range, was
developed and later sold in 1985 as the
Cambridge Workstation (using
the Panos operating system). Advertising for this machine in 1986
included an illustration of an office worker using the workstation.
The advert claimed mainframe power at a price of £3,480 (excluding
VAT). The main text of the advertisement referred to available
mainframe languages, communication capabilities and the alternative
option of upgrading a
BBC Micro using a coprocessor. The machine
Sophie Wilson and
Steve Furber the 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 Lisa had 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.
Cambridge Workstation advert in New Scientist, 24 April 1986 issue
Acorn had investigated all of the readily available processors and
found them wanting or unavailable to them. After testing all of
the available processors and finding them lacking, Acorn decided that
it needed a new architecture. Inspired by white papers on the Berkeley
RISC project, Acorn seriously considered designing its own
processor. A visit to the
Western Design Center in Phoenix, where
the 6502 was being updated by what was effectively a single-person
company, showed Acorn engineers
Steve Furber and
Sophie Wilson they
did not need massive resources and state-of-the-art research and
Sophie Wilson set about developing the instruction set, writing a
simulation of the processor in
BBC Basic that 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.
Advert in New Scientist, 31 July 1986 issue
The official Acorn RISC Machine project started in October
1983,[specify] with Acorn spending £5 million on it by 1987. VLSI
Technology, Inc were 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. The ARM evaluation system was promoted as a means for
developers to try the system for themselves. This system was used with
BBC Micro and a
PC compatible version was also
planned.[clarification needed] Advertising was aimed at those with
technical expertise, rather than consumers and the education market,
with a number of technical specifications listed in the main text of
the adverts. 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
Olivetti were 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 development of
RISC OS operating system required around 200 OS development
staff at its peak.
Acorn C/C++ was released commercially by Acorn,
for developers to use to compile their own applications.
Acorn's watershed year was 1984—it had gone public just as demand
for its home computer products collapsed. It was the year when Atari
was sold, Apple nearly went bankrupt, and Acorn had solved ongoing
issue of production volumes.
The Electron had been launched in 1983, but problems with the supply
of its 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 ephemeral: rather
than wait, parents bought Commodore 64s or ZX Spectrums for their
Ferranti solved 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
Acorn was also spending a large portion of its reserves on
BBC Master was being developed; the ARM project was
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
and obtaining Federal approval for the
BBC Micro in order to expand
into the United States proved to be 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
BBC Micros sold barely at all. They did, however,
make an appearance in the school of Supergirl in the 1984 film
Supergirl: The Movie.
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
Olivetti on 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
Olivetti took a controlling share of Acorn with 79% of
shares. In July 1996,
Olivetti announced that it had sold 14.7% of the
Lehman Brothers reducing its stake at that time to 31.2%.
Lehman said it planned to resell the shares to investors. It was
at this time (Dec 1985) that
Acorn User magazine 'News' section (Page
#11) displayed a photo of a new OEM-focused computer named the
'Communicator'. This was Acorn's answer to ICL's 'One Per Desk'
initiative. This Acorn machine was based around a
16-bit 65SC816 CPU,
128 KB RAM, expandable to 512 KB, plus additional
battery-backed RAM. It had a new Multi-tasking OS, had 4x internal ROM
sockets, and shipped with 'View' based software. It also had an
attached telephone, communications software and auto-answer/auto-dial
In February 1986, Acorn announced that it was ceasing US sales
operations, and sold its remaining US
BBC Microcomputers for $1.25M to
a Texas company, 'Basic', which was a subsidiary of Datum, the Mexican
manufacturer of the Spanish version of the
modified Spanish keyboards for the South American market). The Woburn,
Mass. sales office was closed at this time.
BBC Master and Archimedes
Reader reply card in New Scientist, 9 September 1989 issue
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 KB of RAM and an internal 80186 processor for
MS-DOS compatibility, and the Master Turbo, which had a 65C102
The first commercial use of the
ARM architecture was in the ARM
Development System, a Tube-linked second processor for the
which allowed one to write programs for the new system. It sold for
£4,500 and included the ARM processor, 4 MB 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, 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, some 18 months after IBM
launched their RISC-based PC/RT. The first RISC-based home
computer, the Archimedes was popular in the United Kingdom,
Australasia and Ireland, and was considerably more powerful and
advanced than most offerings of the day. The Archimedes was advertised
in both printed and broadcast media. One example of
such advertising is a mock-up of the
RISC OS 2 desktop, showing some
software application directories, with the advert text added within
windows. However, the vast majority of home users opted for an
Atari ST or
Commodore Amiga when looking to upgrade their 8-bit
micros. As with the BBC, the Archimedes instead flourished in schools
and other educational settings but just a few years later in the early
1990s this market began 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+
These were sold mainly into education, specialist and enthusiast
Acorn's silicon partner, VLSI, had been given the task of 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
Members of Apple's Advanced Technology Group (ATG) had made initial
contact with Acorn over use of the ARM in an experimental Apple II (2)
style prototype called Möbius. Experiments done in the Möbius
project proved that the ARM RISC architecture could be highly
attractive for certain types of future products. The Möbius project
was briefly considered as the basis for a new line of Apple computers
but was killed for fear it would compete with the Macintosh and
confuse the market. However, the Möbius project evolved awareness of
the ARM processor within Apple. The Möbius Team made minor changes to
the ARM registers, and used their working prototype to demonstrate a
variety of impressive performance benchmarks.
Later Apple was developing an entirely new computing platform for its
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.
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 Ltd. when that
company was spun off in November 1990. Acorn Group and Apple Computer
Inc each had a 43% shareholding in ARM (in 1996), while VLSI was
an investor and first ARM licensee.
Acorn Pocket Book
Acorn Pocket Book
In 1993, Acorn decided to offer an Acorn branded
Psion Series 3
Psion Series 3 PDA,
badged as an Acorn Pocket Book, with a later variant branded the Acorn
Pocket Book II. Essentially a rebadged OEM version of the Series 3
with slightly different on-board software, the device was marketed as
an inexpensive computer for schoolchildren, rather than as an
executive tool. The hardware was the same as the Series 3, but the
integrated applications were different; for instance, the Pocket Book
omitted the Agenda diary and Spell dictionary applications, which
became an optional application, supplied on ROM SSD which could be
inserted into either of the ROM bays underneath the device. Other
programs were renamed: 'System' became 'Desktop', 'Word' became
'Write', 'Sheet' became 'Abacus' and 'Data' became 'Cards'.
In 1994, a subsidiary of Acorn, Online Media, was founded. Online
Media aimed to exploit the projected video-on-demand (VOD) boom, an
interactive television system which would allow users to select and
watch video content over a network. In September 1994 the
Cambridge Digital Interactive Television Trial of video-on-demand
services was set up by Online Media, Anglia Television, Cambridge
Cable (now part of Virgin Media) and Advanced Telecommunication
Modules Ltd (ATML)—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.
Olivetti Research Laboratory developed 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.
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 eight 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
Tesco and 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 University television
programmes and educational software.
Netherhall 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, and a share issue raising additional capital
for the division was announced in 1995, but the predicted
video-on-demand boom never really materialised.
Risc User: NewsPad – Covered in the October 1996 edition
In 1994, the EU initiated the NewsPad program, with the aim of
developing a common mechanism to author and deliver news
electronically to consumer devices. The program's name and format were
inspired by the devices described and depicted in Arthur C. Clarke and
Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film: 2001: A Space Odyssey. Acorn won a
contract to develop a consumer device / receiver, and duly supplied a
RISC OS based touch-screen tablet computer for the pilot.
The device measured 8.5 × 11 inches
(220 × 280 mm) and was being tried in 1996 in Spain by
Ediciones Primera Plana. The Barcelona-based pilot ended in 1997,
but the tablet format and
ARM architecture may have influenced Intel's
1999 WebPad / Web Tablet program.
In 1996, Acorn entered into a joint venture with
Apple Computer UK
called Xemplar to provide computers and services to the UK education
market. A survey in 1998 found that Apple and Acorn systems at
that time accounted for 47 per cent and one third of computers in UK
primary and secondary schools respectively. Acorn sold its
remaining share in Xemplar to Apple in 1999 for £3 million,
and the company renamed itself to Apple Xemplar Education. Apple
Xemplar was wound up in 2014. Acorn Education and later Xemplar
Education were heavily involved in Tesco's "Computers for Schools"
programme in the UK, providing hardware and software in exchange for
vouchers collected from
The Welsh Office Multimedia/Portables Initiative (WOMPI), launched in
1996, prescribed that Welsh schools choosing the multimedia option
received multimedia PCs exclusively supplied by RM. This upset
other suppliers and members of the National Association of Advisers
for Computers in Education (NAACE).
Wired UK, September 1996 issue, 'Five Go Nuts in Cambridge: Acorn's
mad rush to build the world's first Network Computer'
See also: Acorn Network Computer
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The Money Programme screened an interview with Larry
Ellison in October 1995, Acorn Online Media Managing Director Malcolm
Bird realised that Ellison's network computer was, basically, an Acorn
set-top box. After initial discussions between Oracle Corporation
and 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
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. In
February 1996 Acorn Network Computing was founded. In August 1996
it launched the Acorn Network Computer.
An Acorn NetStation NC
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 consisting of
the SA-1500 and SA-1501. Galileo's main feature was a guarantee of a
certain quality of service to 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. The
SA-1500 sported higher clock rates than existing
StrongARM CPUs and,
more importantly, a media-focussed coprocessor (the Attached Media
Processor or AMP). The SA-1500 was to be the first release target for
After 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 other software
and hardware technologies built on top of ARM processors.
1998–2000: Element 14
Further information: Element 14 (company)
The distinctive yellow case of the Acorn Phoebe
During the first half of 1998 Acorn's management were heavily involved
in the initial public offering of
ARM Holdings plc which raised £18
million for Acorn throughout 1998. In June 1998,
Stan Boland took
Acorn Computers from David Lee who started a review
of Acorn's core business.
The company had losses of £9 million in the first nine months of the
year and in September 1998 the results of the review led to a
significant restructuring of the company. The Workstation division
was to close, a forty percent reduction in staff and the
Risc PC 2
code-named Phoebe that was nearing completion was cancelled.
These actions allowed the company to reduce in on-going losses and
focus on other activities. Acorn concentrated on development
of digital TV set-top boxes and high performance media centric DSP
(silicon and software). It also produced a reference design for a
Windows NT thin client using a
Cirrus Logic system on a
To concentrate on these two activities Acorn hired a group of former
STMicroelectronics silicon-design engineers and they formed the basis
of a £2 million silicon-design centre that Acorn set up in
Bristol. They also started to dispose of some of their
interests in the former workstation market. It was reported that
Stephen Streater of Eidos may have made a £0.5M bid for the rights to
the PC range. In October they granted distribution rights to the
existing designs of machines to
Castle Technology to supply the former
Workstation market's dealer network, sold their 50%
interest in Xemplar Education to
Apple Computer in Jan 1999,
and in March 1999,
RISCOS Ltd acquired a licence to develop and
release RISC OS.
[T]he future of this company lies as a leading player in the digital
TV system components [...]
Chief Executive, Stan Boland, in September 1998
By January 1999,
Acorn Computers Ltd. had renamed to Element 14
Limited (though still owned by Acorn Group plc), this change was to
reflect the changed nature of the business and to distance itself from
the education market that
Acorn Computers was most known
for. Other names had been considered by the company, but
the website e-14.com had been registered before the official
During this time the
ARM Holdings share value had increased to a point
where the capital value of Acorn Group 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 Holdings to provide a return on
In May 1999, a deal was offered to Acorn Group plc shareholders by
MSDW Investment Holdings Limited, a newly incorporated subsidiary of
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Group, which would give them two ARM
Holdings shares for every five Acorn Group shares that they
owned. The shareholders accepted and on 1 June 1999 Acorn Group
plc was purchased by MSDW for £270 million. The transaction
involved the delisting from the stock market of Acorn Group plc, as a
result of which its shareholding in ARM was distributed to Acorn's
As part of the deal with MSDW, the STB division (including around 30
staff) was to be sold to
Pace Micro Technology
Pace Micro Technology for
Stan Boland was given the option to lead a
management buy out of the DSP business and on 26 July 1999,
MSDW sold it for the net asset value of £1.5 million to
The newly independent Element 14 set about raising venture capital and
subsequently secured £8.25 million in first-round funding from
Bessemer Venture Partners, Atlas Ventures and Herman
Hauser's Amadeus Capital Partners.
Broadcom Corporation's offices at
Cambridge Science Park in 2011
In February 2000, Element 14 successfully head-hunted 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. This reflected a shift towards the companies targeting of the
DSP technology away from Media and towards DSL markets.
Element 14 developed
IPTV over standard phone lines and worked with
telcos such as Canada's NBTel. It continued to develop its DSP
products until it was purchased by
Broadcom Corporation in November
2000 for £366 million and Element 14 became Broadcom's DSL
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December
The legacy of the company's work is evidenced in spin-off
technologies, with the company being described in 2013 as "the most
influential business in the innovation cluster's history".
Revival of the Acorn trademark
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. This company was dissolved in late
2018 Acorn Revival
On 23rd February 2018 the Acorn trademark made another return when a
new company Acorn Inc. Ltd announced a brand new smartphone, the Acorn
In 2009, BBC4 screened Micro Men, a drama based on the rivalry between
Acorn Computers and Sinclair's competing machines.
Acorn products featured prominently in a number of Educational
television series, including:
The Computer Programme
Making the Most of the Micro
Computers in Control
Acorn products spawned a series of dedicated publications, including:
(BBC) Acorn User
The Micro User
The Micro User / Acorn Computing
BEEBUG / Risc User
They also featured in dedicated section of:
Computer Shopper (UK magazine)
Personal Computer News
Personal Computer World
Home Computing Weekly
Amber (processor core)
Acorn Electron games
Microelectronics Education Programme
^ History of ARM: from Acorn to Apple - Telegraph
^ ARM CPU Core Dominates Mobile Market - Nikkei Electronics Asia -
Tech-On! Archived 11 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Acorn founder advocates moving datacentres to NZ". Stuff.co.nz. 31
January 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2012. [...] Acorn Computers, once
regarded as the UK's equivalent of
Apple Computer [...]
^ Report on Network Computer Technology. Simon Booth, European
^ a b Shillingford, Joia (2001-03-08). "From the
BBC Micro, little
Acorns grew". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved
2011-06-02. Originally, Acorn planned to use Intel's 286 chip in its
Archi-medes computer. But because Intel would not let it license the
286 core and adapt it, Acorn decided to design its own.
^ Athreye, Suma S. (18 July 2000). "Agglomeration and Growth: A Study
Cambridge Hi-Tech Cluster" (PDF). SIEPR Discussion Paper No.
00-42. Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. Retrieved 18
^ Meyer, David (19 November 2010). "Dead IT giants: A top 10 of the
fallen". ZDNet. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
^ a b "Great oaks from little Acorns? No". Personal Computer World. 26
November 1998. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013. Retrieved
10 April 2012.
^ a b Sethi, Anand (2008-04-15). "UK electronics – a fallen or
sleeping giant?". EMT WorldWide. IML Group. Retrieved 2011-07-06. One
of Sir Clive’s long term employees,
Chris Curry quit because of
differences over the technology roadmap [...] Finding nothing readily
available on the market including from the leading US chip
manufacturers [...] RISC processor called ARM which basically had the
design ethos of the simple 6502 but in a 32 bit RISC environment
making it that much simpler to fabricate and test.
^ Garnsey, Elizabeth; Lorenzoni, Gianni; Ferriani, Simone (2008).
"Speciation through entrepreneurial choice: The Acorn-ARM story".
Research Policy. 37 (2). doi:10.1016/j.respol.2007.11.006.
Acorn System 1
Acorn System 1 price list
^ Chris's Acorns - System 2
^ Chris's Acorns - System 3
^ Chris's Acorns - System 4
^ Chris's Acorns - System 5
^ do it right—quotation from an email from Sophie Wilson.
^ "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?" Attack, Carol (1988). "From Atom to Arc". Acorn User.
^ offthetelly.co.uk - Standby for a Data-Blast - Jack Kibble-White -
December 2005 Archived 28 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Langley, Nick (1989-09-09). "Schools: the early learning curve". New
Scientist. p. 65. In 1981 the British government launched a
scheme which offered schools 50 per cent of the cost of a computer
from one of three suppliers. The computers were the Sinclair Spectrum,
BBC Micro from Acorn and the Research Machines 380Z, all 8-bit
^ Sadauskas, Andrew (27 July 2012). "
BBC Micro B lives on: Strong
growth for ARM after increased tablet and smartphone use".
SmartCompany. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
BBC Micro ignites memories of revolution".
BBC News Online.
2008-03-21. Retrieved 2011-06-29.
^ "Acorn celebs to mark 30th anniversary with reunion". Drobe.
2008-01-28. Retrieved 2011-07-21. Top
Acorn Computers luminaries are
planning a reunion for former company staff to mark the firm's 30th
birthday, drobe.co.uk has learned.
^ Smith, Tony (2008-08-28). "Acorn alumni to toast tech pioneer's 30th
anniversary". RegHardware. The Register. Retrieved 2011-07-21. Some
400 staffers from that flag bearer of the 1980s UK home computing
revolution, Acorn, are to gather next month to celebrate the 30th
anniversary of the firm's foundation.
^ Goodwins, Rupert; Barker, Colin (2008-08-29). "Acorn to celebrate
30th anniversary". ZDNet. Retrieved 2011-07-21. Thirteenth of
September will see the 30th anniversary of UK technology company Acorn
Computers, famous in the 1980s
8-bit boom for its 6502-based
microcomputers such as the Electron, Atom and
BBC Micro. Some 400
previous employees and guests are expected at a celebratory party,
which will be held in the grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge,
close to the company's old HQ.
^ "Mighty Acorn holding 30th anniversary reunion bash". Business
Weekly. 2008-08-28. Retrieved 2011-07-18. Around 400 ex-Acorn
employees and guests are expected to attend the event in
September 13th. It will be held in the grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall,
close to the company’s old headquarters building.
^ Electronic Times, Oct 1983
^ about.com - Inventors of the Modern Computer - The History of the
IBM PC - International Business Machines - Mary Bellis
^ "Acorn re-enters the marketplace". New Scientist. 1985-08-08.
p. 32. Acorn [...] unveiled two products last week — a cheap
microprocessor chip and a range of scientific workstations. [...]
called the Acorn
Cambridge Workstation, was developed from Acorn's now
defunct range of business micros and is compatible with the BBC
Cambridge Workstation, New Scientist, 1986-04-24, retrieved
2011-10-17, Happily, all the mainframe power you have been waiting for
can now be found in a
32-bit micro – the Acorn Cambridge
^ Chisnall, David (2010-08-23). "Understanding ARM Architectures".
^ Furber, Stephen B. (2000). ARM system-on-chip architecture. Boston:
Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-67519-6.
^ Hammond, Ray (1987-06-18). "'Fastest' micro in the world". New
Scientist. p. 41. Acorn first started working on its RISC
research programme in 1983. [...] has spent £5 million developing the
RISC microprocessor [...]
^ Garnsey, Elizabeth; Lorenzoni, Gianni; Ferriani, Simone (March
2008). "Speciation through entrepreneurial spin-off: The Acorn-ARM
story" (PDF). Research Policy. 37 (2): 210–224.
doi:10.1016/j.respol.2007.11.006. Retrieved 2011-06-02. [...] the
first silicon was run on April 26th 1985.
^ Acorn Risc technology, New Scientist, 1986-07-31, retrieved
^ "High hopes for Advanced Risc Machines Ltd as Acorn returns to the
black". Computer Business Review. 26 April 1992. Retrieved 2 January
^ Hansen, Martin (2004-03-01). "Castle, RISCOS Ltd., FinnyBank theatre
report". Drobe. Retrieved 2011-02-04. In Acorn's prime, 200 people
worked on developing the OS [...]
^ Sanger, David E. (3 July 1984). "Warner Sells
Atari To Tramiel". New
York Times. pp. Late City Final Edition, Section D, Page 1,
Column 6, 1115 words.
^ Chris's Acorns Archived 11 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
Acorn Electron - Release and ULA supply issues.
^ Technologies time forgot: the
Acorn Electron Archived 6 January 2010
at the Wayback Machine., Silicon.com
^ Starring the Computer - Supergirl
^ Centre for Computing History
Olivetti buy 49% of Acorn
Olivetti Sells Shares In Acorn Computer". The New York Times. New
York. 2 July 1996. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
Olivetti S.p.A. of
Italy said yesterday that it had sold 14.7 percent of Acorn Computer
Group P.L.C. to
Lehman Brothers Inc. on Friday. Lehman did not
disclose how much it paid, but at current market prices, the sale
would have brought about L33.5 million ($52 million) to Olivetti,
which has been posting losses. The purchase, representing 13.25
million of the British computer company's shares, reduced Olivetti's
stake in Acorn to about 31.2 percent from 78.5 percent two years ago.
Lehman said it intended to resell the shares to investors.
^ Communicator details Archived 26 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
Acorn User - News section- Feb 1986
^ Chris's Acorns - Master 128 Archived 18 July 2011 at the Wayback
Machine. Master 128
^ Chris's Acorns - Master 512 Archived 18 July 2011 at the Wayback
Machine. Master 512
^ Chris's Acorns - Master Turbo Archived 14 July 2009 at the Wayback
Machine. Master Turbo
^ Chris's Acorns – A500 Second Processor Archived 17 June 2013 at
the Wayback Machine.
^ "IBM's simple route to powerful computing". New Scientist.
1986-01-30. p. 36. [...] new machine, the RT [...]
IBM has beaten
the British computer firm Acorn in the race to incorporate RISC
processors into products.
^ Pountain, Dick (October 1987). "The Archimedes A310". BYTE.
p. 125. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
^ The Archimedes 400/1 Series, New Scientist, 1989-09-09, retrieved
^ The RISC for the Rest of Us, Art Sobel, in Advanced RISC Technology
(ART), 1996. ARM Evangelist.
^ a b Low power hardware for a high performance PDA, M. Culbert, in
Low Power Electronics, 1994. Digest of Technical Papers., IEEE
^ a b c Acorn Group and
Apple Computer Dedicate Joint Venture to
Transform IT in UK Education, press release from Acorn Computers, 1996
^ ARM milestones, ARM website
^ Chris's Acorns: Acorn Pocket Book Archived 12 April 2013 at the
Wayback Machine.. Acorn.chriswhy.co.uk (2008-01-16). Retrieved on
^ Sapsed, Jonathan (2001-04-10), "Strategizing under Uncertainty and
Ignorance: The influence of knowledge and technological
path-dependence on corporate strategies" (PDF), Managing Knowledge:
Conversations and Critiques, Brighton, UK: CENTRIM, p. 13,
^ ARM7500 Press Release, Advanced RISC Machines Ltd press release, 18
^ a b Lessons in Learning Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback
Machine., white paper, Mediation Technology, last modified 18 June
^ a b
Cambridge Corners the Future in Networking, TUANZ Topics, Volume
05, No. 10, November 1995
^ "Acorn takes shares to City". Computer Shopper. May 1995.
^ NEWSPAD (9252 )
^ Acorn NewsPad publicity photograph Archived 24 June 2012 at the
dead link] Annotation devices
^ Visions and Realities in the NewsPad Constituency, by Alfonso H
^ Pelline, Jeff (5 November 1996). ""Daily me" device on horizon".
CNET. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
^ TheRegister, 25 May 1999 14:53 GMT, Intel's NewsPad from Acorn…
the saga continues…
^ Intel made a Web Tablet?
^ Esprit: A 'Multimedia Viewer' Enables Electronic Newspapers
^ Acorn Press Release Acorn/Apple press release on joint venture
^ Cole, George (1999-02-12). "Apple's bigger bite;Market Moves". Times
Educational Supplement. TSL Education. Retrieved 2011-06-30. A survey
last year, found that there were 126,000 Acorn machines and 22,000
Apple computers in primary schools; in secondaries the figures were
98,000 and 45,000 respectively. So Apple and Acorn account for 47 per
cent of computers in primary schools and a third of those in secondary
- a very large proportion.
^ Centre for Computing History Apple buy remaining Xemplar stake
^ "Acorn falls off education tree". The Register. 1999-01-11.
Retrieved 2011-06-30. Acorn [...] selling its half of Xemplar. The
other joint owner, Apple, now takes full charge of the educational
supplier. The deal valued Xemplar at £6 million, with Acorn bagging
£3 million for its share.
^ Companies House Webcheck service, search for previous company names
^ SourceWire Thursday, 17 September 1998. Xemplar press release.
^ "Projects". Rhondda Cynon Taff Education & Children's Services.
2001. Archived from the original on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 10
November 2011. The Welsh Office Multimedia and Portables Initiative
(WOMPI), launched in 1996 [...]
^ a b Evans, Arnold (1 March 1996). "When a PC is non-PC". Times
Educational Supplement. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013.
Retrieved 10 November 2011. But in
Wales the schools that chose the
multimedia option (93 per cent of some 1,700 schools) will all receive
Research Machines Pentium Multimedia PCs [...] has upset not only
other suppliers, but also teachers and the professionals in charge of
promoting IT in schools. A conference of the National Association of
Advisers for Computers in Education (NAACE) has demanded a radical
overhaul of the way decisions about Government IT schemes are made
^ a b Five Go Nuts in Cambridge,
Wired UK magazine 2.09, September
^ "Oracle signs up Acorn for Net devices". CNET.com. 1996-01-10.
Retrieved 2011-06-10. Oracle has signed up a small British computer
design firm called Acorn Computer Group to come up with a blueprint
for an inexpensive Internet access device.
^ "Five years ago: Acorn fights back with reduced losses". ZDNet. 8
March 2002. Retrieved 15 December 2011. Developing and licensing
technologies for Internet solutions and interactive TV has also lead
us to markets in the US, Japan and Korea, whereas before, we were
primarily involved in dealing with UK schools and colleges.
^ Acorn Looks to the Stars With New Galileo Operating System, Acorn
Computer Group press release, 10 February 1997
^ Acorn World '97 Transcripts
^ a b c d e Acorn Group PLC - Preliminary Announcement of Audited
Results for the Year Ended 31 December 1998
^ Acorn Management restructuring - Chris Cox VP, Workstations Division
^ Boland, Stan; Rollo Head, Sarah Pascoe (Shandwick Consultants)
(1998-09-17). "Result of strategic review and implementation of
fundamental restructuring programme". Acorn Computers. Archived from
the original on 1999-01-28. Retrieved 2011-05-10. Acorn Group plc
[...] today announced that following a strategic review of its
operations, it is implementing a fundamental restructuring programme
which will enable the Company to become more focused as a digital TV
and thin-client components company.
^ Clark, Etelka (4 October 1998). "Acorn stops making desktop PCs".
Personal Computer World. Archived from the original on 19 April 2013.
Retrieved 10 April 2012.
^ Jaffa Software - Phoebe:
Risc PC 2 No More
^ Stuart Halliday - Acorn Cybervillage Announcement - Workstation
Division to close,
Risc PC 2 work stopped, Acorn World Show postponed
^ a b c Element 14 - Acorn and Element 14 - Questions and Answers.
^ Cullen, Drew (1998-12-15). "Acorn poaches ST Microelectronics design
team". The Register. The Register. Retrieved 2011-05-09. Acorn Group
PLC is beefing up its digital TV business by poaching a seven strong
chip design team from ST Microelectronics. [...] setting up a £2
million chip research centre in Bristol.
The Register - Acorn builds Castles in the Air
Acorn Computers Press Release - Acorn announces distribution deal
Castle Technology for RISC based products" (Press release).
Archived from the original on 6 May 1999.
The Register - Acorn falls off education tree
Acorn Computers Press Release - Acorn sells Xemplar stake
The Register - RISCOS to continue OS 4 development
RISCOS Ltd Press Release -
RISCOS Ltd acquires licence to develop
RISC OS 4
^ "Result of strategic review and implementation of fundamental
restructuring programme". Element 14. 17 September 1998. Archived from
the original on 28 January 1999. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
^ Clarke, Peter (1999-01-14). "Acorn renamed, refocused as Element
14". EE Times. EE Times. Retrieved 2011-06-08.
Acorn Computers Ltd.
has changed its name to Element 14 Ltd. as part of its conversion from
a computer designer and manufacturer to a developer of software and
silicon intellectual property (IP).
^ Santarini, Mike (1999-01-25). "Acorn reinvents itself as IP-vendor
Element 14". EE Times. EE Times. Retrieved 2011-06-08. Acorn Computers
Ltd. (Cambridge, England) has changed its name to Element 14 Ltd. as
part of its conversion from a computer designer and manufacturer to a
developer of software and silicon intellectual property (IP).
^ "Acorn plans name change to reflect new ambitions". Computergram
International. 5 January 1999. Retrieved 3 December
2013. – via
HighBeam Research (subscription
^ a b The Independent - Ailing Acorn agrees to pounds 270m US takeover
^ a b Recommended Offer by
Morgan Stanley & Co. Limited on behalf
MSDW Investment Holdings Limited for the entire ordinary share capital
of Acorn Group plc
^ MSDW purchase Acorn stock, The Motley Fool, 27 May 1999
^ "Pace Micro Technology". UK ACTIVITY REPORT. UK Business Park.
1999-04-28. Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved
2011-05-09. Acorn, the microchip designer, has agreed to a £270m
takeover by MSDW Investment Holdings, and Acorn's set-top box business
will be sold to
Pace Micro Technology
Pace Micro Technology and its Media DSP division will
be sold to management.
^ a b Clark, Etelka (1 July 1999). "Acorn dies but legacy lives on".
Personal Computer World. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013.
Retrieved 10 April 2012.
Pace Micro Technology
Pace Micro Technology PLC Annual Report & Accounts 2000 Archived
16 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Element 14 BBQ
Bessemer Venture Partners
Bessemer Venture Partners - Portfolio Archived 15 January 2011 at
the Wayback Machine.
The Register - Atlas coughs up $13m for Acorn spin-out
^ Amadeus Companies - Element 14 Archived 18 December 2010 at the
^ Element 14 snatches Alcatel DSL designers, Electronics Weekly, 9
^ Swift, Caroline (13 April 1999). "From little Acorns, Element 14
grows". Personal Computer World. Archived from the original on 8
December 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
^ Broadcom buys Element 14 Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback
Machine., Electronic News, 9 October 2000
^ The Engineer - Broadcom acquires Element 14
^ Gain, Bruce (2000-04-10). "Broadcom to pay $594M for European DSL
supplier". EE Times. EE Times. Retrieved 2011-06-08. Broadcom Corp.
[...] agreeing to offer $594 million in stock [...] to purchase
Element 14 Ltd. [...]
^ Quested, Tony (15 November 2013). "Acorn legacy still earning
billions". Business Weekly. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
^ DRS Number 03682,
Acorn Computers Limited and Roy Johnson, Nominet
UK Dispute Resolution Service and Companies House WebCheck
^ "Historic UK Tech Brand Acorn is Back With a New Smartphone".
Everything Tech. 2018-02-23. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
^ BBC4 Micro Men
Personal Computer World
Personal Computer World review of the
BBC Micro (including details of
BBC contract), December 1981 Personal Computer World
"ARM's Way"[permanent dead link] (LISA influence, Berkeley RISC,
Fabrication date), April 1988, Electronics Weekly
"The history of the ARM CPU", taken from 'The ARM RISC Chip: A
Programmers' Guide' by Carol Atack and Alex van Someren, published
1993 by Addison-Wesley
"From Atom to ARC - The ups and downs of the development of Acorn",
from October, November and December 1988 editions of Acorn User
"ARM’s Race to Embedded World Domination" (
Motorola 68000 was
considered as a replacement to 6502), Paul DeMone, 2000
"Sophie Wilson's most admired CPU" (32016 chip as example of "how to
completely make a mess of things"), Sophie Wilson
Flotation of Acorn on Unlisted Securities Market, Electronics Times, 6
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Acorn Computers.
Acorn Atom pre-history
RISC OS and Acorn pages
Atom Review documentation of the Atom and lots of extensions made by
Dutch Atom clubs
About Acorn computers and ARM processors
Acorn information from Retro Madness, the museum of home computing and
RISC OS Ltd. develop Acorn's OS under licence from Castle
AdvantageSix develop computers and embedded systems for RISC OS
Castle Technology are the current owners of RISC OS
Acorn Computers The collection at The Centre for Computing History
Video Interview—at Manchester University on 17 August
Acorn Computers, derivatives, clones and compatibles
Systems 2 to 5
BBC Micro (aka Proton)
BeagleBoard-xM in Kiste)
32-bit dev boards
BBC Computer Literacy Project
Model A, B and B+
Archimedes range and A3000
TV programmes / services
Now the Chips are Down
The Computer Programme
Making the Most of the Micro
Telesoftware via Ceefax
Advanced Disc Filing System
Disc Filing System
Doctor Who and the Warlord
Doctor Who: The First Adventure
Cambridge Systems Technology)
Pace Micro Technology
6502 Second Processor
Z80 Second Processor
BBC Domesday Project
RISC OS software
RISC OS Open
Drag and drop
ARM system-on-chip architecture
Related and historical
History of RISC OS
The Electronic Font Foundry
a Current companies only
b Addition of m