The Acorn Archimedes found success in the British education sector as it is the successor to the BBC Micro. The first models released were the A300 and A400 series. These featured an ARM processor, 512KB - 4MB of memory and 8-bit stereo sound. The machines were also capable of emulating BBC Basic and utilised a 3-button mouse as standard. Future models, such as the popular A3000, used the 8MHz ARM2 processor and then later the ARM3 at 25MHz.
The operating system, RISC OS (Reduced Instruction Set Computing Operating System), was stored in ROM which contributed to it's fast speed and other features such as true multi-tasking, context-sensitive menus and anti-aliasing.
However, while the Archimedes range were more powerful than the currently available personal computers, they failed to garner much popularity outside of the UK, Ireland and Australasia.
Despite a small market outside of education, there Acorn Archimedes boasts a solid video game library. Many games of the decade saw releases alongside the Amiga and PC such as Magic Pockets and Lemmings. Aside from the multi-platform releases, the Acorn Archimedes was far from devoid of exclusive games. Starfighter 3000 is an example of a title that originated on the Archimedes and then saw later releases on the 3DO and even the Playstation.
The Acorn Archimedes lost popularity in schools in the 90s as other platforms such as Mac and PC improved their multimedia capabilities and programs such as "Computers for Schools" that were originally partnered with Acorn shifted away.
The Acorn RiscPC computers eventually replaced the Archimedes range, offering a dramatic increase in power, more expansion, dual processor slots.
While Acorn Computers Ltd split operations in 1998 and ceased trading in 2000, the operating system RISC OS perpetuates through releases of different variants from RISC OS Select, Adjust and 6. These current releases operate on the RiscPC generation and on modern hardware via a commercial emulator.
Four models were initially released in 1987, followed by a number of variations with minor changes.
|BBC Archimedes 305||ARM2||512 KB||None||July 1987||£799|
|BBC Archimedes 310||ARM2||1 MB||None||July 1987||£875|
|BBC Archimedes 310M||ARM2||1 MB||None||July 1987||£???|
|Acorn Archimedes 410||ARM2||1 MB||None||July 1987||£1,399|
|Acorn Archimedes 440||ARM2||4 MB||20 MB||July 1987||£2,299|
|BBC A3000||ARM2||1 MB||None||May 1989||£649|
|Acorn Archimedes 410/1||ARM2||1 MB||None||June 1989||£999|
|Acorn Archimedes 420/1||ARM2||2 MB||20 MB ST506||June 1989||£1,099|
|Acorn Archimedes 440/1||ARM2||4 MB||40 MB ST506||June 1989||£1,299|
|Acorn R140||ARM2||4 MB||47 MB ST506||June 1989||£3,500|
|Acorn Archimedes 540||ARM3||4 MB||100 MB SCSI||June 1989||£2,499|
|Acorn R225||ARM3||4 MB||None||July 1990||£3,000|
|Acorn R260||ARM3||8 MB||100 MB SCSI||July 1990||£5,000|
|Acorn A5000||ARM3||1 to 8 MB||20 to 160 MB IDE||September 1991||£999 or |
|Acorn A4||ARM3||2 or 4 MB||40 or 60 MB IDE||June 1992||£1,399 or £1,699|
|Acorn A3010||ARM250||1 MB||None||September 1992||£499|
|Acorn A3020||ARM250||2 MB||up to 80 MB IDE||September 1992||£799|
|Acorn A4000||ARM250||2 MB||up to 210 MB IDE||September 1992||£999|