About my Acorn RiscPC

About my Acorn RiscPC

Hi, I'm owning one of the best computers in the world and I want to present it here, how it works, what it's able to do and so on.
I want to explain here just general things, and for people who know more about computers and maybe even write programs on their own, there are on the next page more interesting things than here.

First of all some small things which go for some Acorn-users who use the RiscPC for about 4 years:


re-install my computer...
format a hard disk more often than one time
install a program more often than one time - most of them don't have to be installed at all...


a problem with a peripheral piece of equipment (monitor, printer, scanner, modem...)...
a problem with an internal piece of equipment (SCSI-controller, SCSI-ZIP, hard disk...)...
a problem with booting after an abrupt power-off...
a loss of data files which was caused by the comuter and not by myself...


install a new operating system (when the old processor got exchanged for a new and faster one, and it required a new version)...
format a SCSI-hard disk (it was pre-formatted in an incompatible way)...

The Acorn RiscPC is not to compare with any other computer, especially the common ones. It belongs to the term "workstation" although everyone is talking about a RiscPC. Also a kind of understatement...
You could just as well compare a middle-market-car with a racing car.
But it's worth a try.

About the RiscPC

In general people think that the RISC-technology is used in main frames only, but that's not true.
The abbreviation RISC (Reduces Instruction Set CPU) does not stand for the risk to get only the half of a processor, but means simplified, that in the processor instead of up to 2000 commands (most of them never get used) only the real important commands (about 30) are implemented.
These 30 basic commands can be supplied with various conditions, so that all functions are given nevertheless.
So less clock frequencies are necessary - the computer is getting faster.


Let's begin with the booting. Almost everybody knows how long it takes until other computers are operational, so that you can start to work on them. This mostly takes a span of one up to some minutes.
The RiscPC takes between 20 and 40 seconds until he is operational, it depends on how many applications are started with the booting.
Mine boots in exactly 34 seconds, in the course of this the printer driver, an alarm-timer, an universal editor, two painting programs and a JPEG-converter gets started.
And also the booting down of the RiscPC is faster than that of common computers. Normally this takes less than one second. (The "unnormal" case is if there are temp-files (i.e. from an Internet-browswer) to delete before shut-down.)

You also can switch off the RiscPC while you are working, and this does not cause any damage. Sudden power failures are no catastrophy anymore. (Files which were open or not saved of course are gone - not even the Risc is a magician.)

About the operating system

The RiscOS (Risc Operating System) is located in the ROM, which cannot be erased or formatted, so that the contents can not be erased. It is insensitive to viruses and cannot be influenced by electrosmog.
A very pleasent concomitant of that is the faster booting of the computer, this is caused by the fact that the operating system has not to be loaded from the hard disk first.

One big advantage of the RiscOS is the fact that it was made in the same house as the Acorn Risc processors.
The programmers could so not only use all the features of the hardware but influence and so optimize it.
There are no obsolete 16 bit or even 8 bit fragments, because Acorn uses for a long time ARM 32 bit Risc-processors and RiscOS was written as a 32 bit program from the beginning. There are no reductions because of compatibility to older applications, as Acorn seems to have the opinion that good programs can be made compatible by patches and bad programs belong into the dust bin.
This can be seen in the "Style Guide", the rules which Acorn released for the programming of applications.
Believe it or not - here not every program has got different shortcuts on the function keys.

The surface

You work with windows only, according to the Drag-and-drop-system. This system makes it possible to copy or move files without a clicking of a command.
You just take the file with the mouse and pull it into the window you want to put it, that's all.
If you are in an editor-window with the cursor and you drag a file into it, the path is written there by itself.

Acornsystems are using the 3-button-mouse from the very beginning, and all 3 buttons are taken advantage of.
At the scrolling of the content of the window with the right mouse-button, you scroll as ususal.
The use of the left mouse-button changes the scroll direction. So you don't have to search for the arrows, you can scroll in both directions without even moving the mouse.
With the middle mouse-button you get a menu in every program with the important functions (like save, print, help...) and certainly specific functions (like copy, cut, paste...in a text-program; colors, zoom, tools...in a painting-program...). Of course there are shortcuts too for these functions.
So an unnecessary blocking of the screen with buttons is dropped, what other computers practise very well.

The icons on the desktop are icons in principle only. This means that they are treated like real programs and not only links. When you drag the icon on the desktop onto the floppy drive, the complete program is saved there and not the link only.

Besides, everywhere antialiasing is used (without the known effects of slowing down), this causes the smoothed look of letters and items.

No additional graphic processor card is necessary, because a graphic chip is put in. With that you can work on graphics in realtime.
The graphic chip offers every resolution each application needs, but you can also define resolutions by yourself (the monitor should really master it).

The graphic section changes the resolution and all other changings of the setting without a boot down of the computer especially for that.
In general, the whole system is more operator- and user-friendly than the known world of the "popular" computer, what proves that even millions can be wrong.

Who still wants to keep on it, it is possible to have the whole Windows-world via a PC-card (with a x86 processor) on the screen of the RiscPC.
Of course you can work on foreign files too without a PC-card. There exist enough converters which convert data formats.

The RiscPC has the multitasking-system at its disposal, this system makes it happen that even more processes can be executed in the same time without the processor getting into a sweat, without a crash of the system. Something that's not imaginable for other systems unfortunately.

The processor

The at present by Acorn used StrongARM (the newest and fastest processor) with 233 Mhz clock frequency is smaller and cooler than the usual processors, what means that no cooling in the motherboard is necessary, besides much less current electricity is needed.
The Risc is also strong without the StrongARM, even a 30 Mhz Risc is quicklier and better at the moving of windows than the graphic artists' darling with 70 Mhz, and this is not claimed by me but an admirer and user of this darling.


The programs of the Risc are shorter (but faster and more effective than comparable programs) and so they need much less space on the hard disk. So you can use the capacy of the hard disk for the things YOU want to have there and not for the operating system.
There are about 4000 different applications for RiscOS, many of them are public domain and shareware. Also in the Internet there is much (free) software to download.
Even with 4 MB RAM normal working is granted, graphic artists of course should take the possibility to upgrade - to maximum 256 MB.

Its real greatness the Risc proves at multimedia, what he actually got developed for.
The complete 16 bit sound section is naturally already on the motherboard, the graphic chip as well.

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