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Hallas to study history of Acorn PhD

Published: 3rd Sep 2006, 16:22:23 | Permalink | Printable

He gets backing for new book from Acorn and ARM founders

Richard HallasFoundation editor Richard Hallas has left his magazine to embark upon a five year PhD study documenting the history of Acorn. In a touching farewell editorial, Richard, pictured, will tell his readers he plans to eventually write a book using his academic research.

He must spend his first year back at university completing a masters degree in the history of science and technology, then three years working on the history of Acorn and its influence on the "wider history of computing", before spending the fifth and final year penning his book.

Richard has also called for anyone who thinks they can assist in his research, from obscure technical documentation to interesting in-jokes, recollections and anecdotes, to contact him.

In the following interview with Drobe, Richard, 37, reveals the motivation behind his latest long term project, and how it all came about.

Is it really true that you're going to start a PhD into the history of Acorn?

Big open quoteI hope so; that's a major part of my plan. However, I'm obliged to do an MSc first, so the PhD itself is actually a year away. I'd hoped that I'd be able to start on the PhD this year, and that the fact that I've got two Bachelor degrees already, one in music, the other in computational mathematics, would have exempted me from having to spend an extra year on an MSc, but it's a requirement of the university. Luckily, I'll be able to do my MSc project in a related area - the BBC Domesday Project - so it'll help with the overall research.
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Which university are you going to?

Big open quoteManchester: birthplace of the Baby, the world's first stored-program computer, home of the UK National Archive for the History of Computing, and current employer of Steve Furber, designer of the ARM micro-architecture.

It was Steve Furber, in fact, who put me in touch with the right people in Manchester, and with [Acorn co-founder] Hermann Hauser for some funding.
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What will your work entail?

Big open quoteA one-year full-time MSc first of all, the dissertation for which should be something about the BBC Domesday Project. The precise aspect of study is to be decided, but I was told that the overall subject was considered to be ideal for an MSc dissertation.

Then, assuming all goes to plan, a three-year PhD on Acorn and its position in the history of computers.

"I'm not expecting the book to sell like Harry Potter, but I do feel that there's much more potential, given all of Acorn's interesting aspects and the BBC connections, for a book about it to sell well than there would be for one about a lesser company."
Finally, based on the research that I've accumulated whilst studying for the MSc and PhD, and having completed the PhD, it's my intention to write the definitive history of Acorn in book form.

The book is actually the motivation for the entire project, and I've had it in mind for several years, but have had great difficulty in getting it off the ground. I wrote a detailed outline quite some time ago and have a fairly clear idea already about what I want to do with the book - although obviously, it'll be refined as my research reveals things that I don't know at present. Attracting a decent publisher, though, proved to be a futile struggle.

Given that I couldn't a publisher interested in the book, it struck me that if I could do some academic research in the field, then (a) it would be more useful in the long run as it would serve the academic community, (b) I'd hopefully get a PhD in the process, which would be nice, and (c) doing research for the PhD would provide me with the material I needed for my book along the way.

The problem was that I needed some funding, as working in the RISC OS world these days isn't the ideal way of getting rich. I will still need further funding in the future, in fact, but Hermann Hauser is providing significant help in financial and other ways, and it's his initial assistance which has got this project off the ground.
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Why have you decided to do it?

Big open quoteBecause someone really ought to do it, and you know what they say about what to do if you want a job to be done properly...

Seriously, I've been involved in the Acorn world for a long time, I have a reasonable knowledge of it, am very interested in it, and have known some of the people who helped to shape it. I also have access to certain useful resource material, and hope to be able to acquire lots more during my research. I've also had an ambition to write a book for a long time, and can think of no more worthy topic on which to write one than the UK's greatest computing innovator. I like to think that I'm a decent writer, and hope that I'll be able to make a good job of producing the definitive book on the subject.

"I don't want to see Acorn being overlooked and ending up as nothing more than a historical footnote; I want to try to preserve a record of its achievements for the future and help to establish its true importance."
The absence of any kind of decent history of Acorn, which was a terrifically important company, and should have been far more successful than it ever was, based on its achievements, has struck me as a matter of deep injustice for a long time. There are books on some extremely obscure aspects of computing history, and yet no publisher seemed remotely interested in anything about Acorn, despite its huge importance and influence. Even many people who know a great deal about computers are totally unaware of what Acorn achieved, and the general public won't have a clue.

Yet I feel that there's an extremely interesting story to be told, and surely there's a 'popular' - rather than niche or academic - market for a good book here, even if it sells mainly to the generation of kids who grew up with the BBC Micro. It shouldn't be forgotten, for example, that the Domesday Project involved the participation of a million school children and their families and teachers. I'd hope that a percentage of them would be sufficiently interested in reading about the project, with the benefit of hindsight, to want to buy the book. I'm not expecting it to sell like Harry Potter, but I do feel that there's much more potential, given all of Acorn's interesting aspects and the BBC connections, for a book about it to sell well than there would be for one about a lesser company.

Besides, the longer that time goes on without anyone setting the matter straight, the greater the danger of things being forgotten and Acorn's achievements lost to history. I don't want to see Acorn being overlooked and ending up as nothing more than a historical footnote; I want to try to preserve a record of its achievements for the future and help to establish its true importance.

It takes years, and the benefit of hindsight, for things to be put into their true historical perspective, but I feel that this is an ideal time for this work to be done. Acorn has been gone for a few years, and the world has moved on significantly in the intervening period, but it's close enough to the events for all the key people and information to be around and accessible, and ripe for preservation. I hope that my book will allow people, both now and in the future, to understand just how important Acorn really was, and how much we lost with its untimely demise.
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Links


Richard Hallas's website Foundation magazine

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Discussion

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Best wishes to Richard for his book - it sounds like a very interesting project and, as he says, it would be an injustice to Acorn not to have something to amalgamate all their achievements in this way. Let me know when it's available in a bookshop near me :)

 is a RISC OS Usertamias on 3/9/06 6:05PM
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What a courageous and marvelous plan! I'm sure many of us have wondered if such a book would ever appear and now I believe the time will indeed come. I'm especially happy with the support Herman Hauser is giving Richard, which ofcourse ultimately serves to immortalize his own 'baby'.

I sincerely must congratulate and thank Richard and wish him great success in achieving his goal. I hope it may inspire others.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 3/9/06 6:10PM
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I trust it will be written with TechWriter ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 3/9/06 6:43PM
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Hopefully any book can go even a small way to dispelling the Microsoft sponsored myth that even the BBC bought in to, hook line and sinker, on recent reports about the 25th anniversary of the PC. If you didn't know better you would have come away with the impression that Bill Gates invented the IBM PC, Windows, the internet and the World Wide Web back in 1981.

If it had been CNN or Sky News you wouldn't have been surprised at such a load of cobblers, but this was the same BBC who teamed up with Acorn to produce machines which educated an entire generation of children in Britain and around the world, developed OS and processor technology which was unrivaled for many years, and whos ARM spin off is used in many billions of devices from cars to mobile phones. But no, from the BBC you'd never have know that the UK played any part in the computer industry whatsoever, Bill Gates did it all.

We can't let Microsoft rewrite the history of personal computers without a wimper, Acorn's story needs to be told, so best of luck to Richard.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 3/9/06 8:50PM
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Nice one Richard. Best of luck to you on this venture. If the book does come out, I'll buy it :-)

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 3/9/06 9:44PM
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This is absolutely wonderful. I've often thought that someone should do a proper documentary on Acorn (and perhaps someone will one day) - but a book is equally as brilliant, and indeed could go into a lot more depth.

Best of luck with it, Richard.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 4/9/06 1:21AM
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Good luck Richard. I'd always hoped that someone would write a definative history on Acorn - I've always found it to be a really interesting story. It's got so many ups and downs, from the high-flying days of receiving the Queen’s Award, 300 active dealerships and promos with Linford Christie and Steve Brackford, to the many crisises, such as the company's near death in 1985 and its eventual dismemberment. Will be a great read I'm sure, and if you're content in Foundation is anything to go by, you're the right man for such a task.

Interesting to see Mr. Hauser has contributed money towards the project. If only he would open his checkbook to RISC OS developers :(

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 4/9/06 9:46AM
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timephoenix: I sadly suspect rather more copies of the book will be sold to rather more people for his investment, than new RISC OS machines would be.

 is a RISC OS Usertamias on 4/9/06 12:09PM
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Good luck Richard. It will be nice to show people what Acorn/RISC OS was/is realy about rather than search many different websites to get a definitive history.

 is a RISC OS UserMikeCarter on 4/9/06 12:20PM
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Tamias:

True, but then again, I don't imagine that Richard will fail to mention whatever of the successor companies are still around in five years time, and maybe some of the people who read the book will be interested enough to investigate....

Like many others here, I look forward to buying a copy of the book when you've finished it, Richard - best of luck!

 is a RISC OS Userchrisj on 4/9/06 1:37PM
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I'm definitely also on the buyer's list for the book. While I have been following Acorn since I bought my BBC B shortly after it was released, I'm sure there is a lot I have missed (and even more I have forgotten),

I hope the book will also cover some of the companies that sprung up around Acorn, such as Watfor, Superior Software, etc., that supplied hardware and software specifically for use with Acorn computers, as well as taking a look at the competition (Sinclar, Commodore, etc.).

 is a RISC OS Usertorbenm on 4/9/06 2:28PM
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There is a splendid book about the history of pc's: "Digital Retro" from Gordon Laing ([link]). It describes the developement of pc's from the MITS Altair 8800 till the NeXT Cube. And the Atom, the BBC Micro, Electron and the Archimedes are described in it as well. With lots of pictures and interesting backgrounds and stories.

I hope that Richards book will be as interesting. Although five years... I'm looking forward to it!

 is a RISC OS Userpscheele on 4/9/06 11:26PM
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Very many thanks for all the positive comments so far on this article, and to those people who have emailed me privately with offers of help. I've had a couple of very useful offers already, though more would of course be most welcome. I'd like to make a few comments in response to things people have said here so far.

markee174: I agree that TechWriter is a splendid piece of software, and I've used it in the past (for my OU maths degree, actually!). However, I'm much more likely to use Ovation Pro (RISC OS version; I won't be moving to Windows under any circumstances), as it's the better page-layout package. All the work for the book will of course be done under RISC OS, though; it would be hypocritical to use any other platform to produce the book, even if I wanted to!

druck: I'm in complete agreement with what you say, and your description of recent BBC coverage is the sort of thing that's provided me with a strong motivation for this project. Sadly, I wasn't in the least bit surprised by the PC-idolising attitude that was apparent in its coverage of the PC's 25th anniversary. It reflects my own experiences when I approached the BBC about a book that would help commemorate its achievements with the Computer Literacy Project. Sadly, the BBC is no longer the organisation it was a quarter of a century ago.

torbenm: Clearly it will be appropriate and necessary for me to talk to some extent about other non-Acorn computers, and also to cover some important third party companies (Eidos and Sibelius spring to mind as being particularly noteworthy ones), plus of course the Acorn spin-offs like ARM and Online Media etc. But at this stage I'm not expecting to devote a vast amount of coverage to such things; my intention is to focus primarily on the Acorn story and the factors that influenced it, or were influenced by it. I do agree that what you mention is important, and I certainly won't ignore such aspects, but it would be all too easy to let matters run away and end up with a book that was unmanageable and ineffective if I tried to cover too much. The Acorn story is a big, multifaceted topic, and I fear that my book will turn out to be huge even without considering the competition. Of course, that's not to say that there isn't room for a separate book covering the UK computer industry of the 1980s in more general terms; I'm firmly of the opinion that there's another good project there, should the opportunity present itself.

pscheele: I've got a copy of Digital Retro, and I agree that it's a nice book, but it's not at all what I have in mind to produce myself. Digital Retro is a coffee-table book: big page-area, vast numbers of pictures, surprisingly little text, and the sort of thing that you can dip into, read a nugget and put down again. It's a useful pictorial overview of computers of the 1980s, with brief summaries and anecdotes. It is not, however, a detailed history. What I'm expecting to produce is a 'reading book' with lots of text and relatively few pictures: something that will provide ample detail about all important aspects of Acorn's history in a comprehensive and accurate way. I'm not saying that it'll be a dense mass of facts and figures; it needs to be an interesting read and to tell a good story, so that people will want to keep on reading it and won't be bored by it. But it will be the sort of book that you pick up and read for lengthy periods, rather than a picture-book that you glance at for a few minutes.

Final recap: I'd be most grateful to hear from anyone who may be able to help me in any way, and I'm particularly interested in (a) personal recollections from people who worked at Acorn, or were involved with it directly in some way, and (b) obscure documentation, such as the internal Acorn newsletters (someone scanned a few of these recently, but I'd like a full set), old press releases, internal technical documentation and suchlike. I can be contacted via email at Richard@Hallas.net or by phone on 01484 460280.

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 5/9/06 12:34PM
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One thing to remember is the extensive use the BBC (and indeed other companies) made (and, indeed makes in some cases) of Acorns - in editing, onscreen graphics, you name it. I know there was a RISC PC controlling BBC THREE's output until recently (not sure if it is since they moved out of White City). That's an important piece of Acorn's history to cover.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 5/9/06 12:45PM
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I came by this article a while back if anyone wants a good read. I doubt it will be useful research material for Richard as it is entirely unreferenced and is unlikely to contain anything new. Still, it may be of interest to readers of Drobe in the meantime: < URL: [link] > Incidentally, I just found it online. It has nothing to do with me, so any errors and omissions don't either.

 is a RISC OS UserCogs on 5/9/06 7:53PM
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@Cogs: This was certainly a very interesting read. Thanks for the link.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 5/9/06 11:12PM
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Godspeed Richard!

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 6/9/06 7:08PM
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Richard best of luck with your research and I, like others here, will happily look forward to its publication and wish you every success.

I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised that Hermann Hauser would support you in this, which suggests that he still as a "soft spot" for the Acorn scene and what it meant to people here.

It is sad to reflect that perhaps Acorn should have made better use of "self-publicity" when it would have counted.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/9/06 8:17PM
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"The absence of any kind of decent history of Acorn, which was a terrifically important company"

"no publisher seemed remotely interested in anything about Acorn, despite its huge importance and influence"

Acorn certainly scored some firsts but I am not sure they had much effect or influence on the computer industry, I doubt they even came up on the radar of Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Apple

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 7/9/06 4:51PM
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I think you'll find they certainly came up on the radar of Apple, seeing as they went into business together on two occasions - ARM, and Xemplar!

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 7/9/06 6:00PM
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moss>You'll probably find that the "float" of ARM was to soothe Apple's worries about using a chip from a compeditor (it also meant Apple could influence future developments of that chip - who knows the more cynical might think they'd use the oppertunity to steer ARM development away from the desktop market and leave Acorn floundering). As for Xemplar it was set up with an Apple man at the head (used to be a big wig in Apple's Cork (Ireland) operation) - who knows maybe it was a way to "steer" some educational institutions towards Apple rather than Acorn.

I'd be interested in what Richard Hallas discovers about that phase in Acorn's history.

From my slightly jaundiced perspective Apple generally do what benefits apple, taking the ARM out of Acorn's control and having a direct sales route into Acorn's main customer base was a real coup for Apple - and an enormous own goal for Acorn. Yet another case of Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory methinks.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 7/9/06 8:55PM
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JWoddy: "Acorn certainly scored some firsts but I am not sure they had much effect or influence on the computer industry, I doubt they even came up on the radar of Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Apple"

Well see above for Apple, and back in 1982 Bill Gates came to see Hermann Hauser, "We showed Bill Gates the Econet network and he said 'What's a network?'", so Acorn were definately on Microsoft's radar, but luckily they didn't know what a radar was either.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 8/9/06 10:18AM
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In reply to AMS:

I doubt ARM would have survived long without being separated from Acorn, Few companies would use a processor whose fate rest with a competitor. This is one of the things that killed DEC's Alpha processor (it was practically only used by DEC, so when DEC folded, there were no users anymore). Though we can dream of Acorn holding on to ARM and sweeping the competition away by using a vastly superior processor, this is not really a realistic scenario.

The lack of licensing was one of the things that prevented first BBC-clones and later Archimedes clones from expanding Acorn's systems into a wider market. And if ARM wasn't made more accessible, the same would have happened to it.

 is a RISC OS Usertorbenm on 8/9/06 10:29AM
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Druck "We showed Bill Gates the Econet network and he said 'What's a network?'", And the industry standard became Ethernet and TCP/IP so its hardly a case of Acorn or Econet influencing anything

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 8/9/06 10:31AM
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Jwoody: its not the type of wire thats important in a network, its the vision of what to do with it. Gates didn't understand it and didn't ship any native support until Windows 3.11 for Work Groups, giving Novell a free reign from the days of DOS up to NT. Acorn had Econet file and print servers, messaging and synchronisation, while Microsoft users were standing in a queue for the machine with the printer clucthing their 5.25" floppies.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 8/9/06 10:42AM
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"Druck" Your missing the point, Acorn might have come up with an interesting idea, but it did not become the industry standard therefore Acorn did not influence anything. Plus Econet hardly stands up to Ethernet its way too slow.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 8/9/06 12:15PM
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Jwoody: you seem to be lacking any point to miss, as I said the wire isn't important, its whats done with it, and Acorn pioneered the services that Novell went on to bring to the PM, and Microsoft eventually "got" 10 years later. There was influence there.

torbenm: Thats not what happened to Alpha. DEC brought a clear cut patent infringement suit against Intel, but due to the good old American payola legal system, they lost. In the settlement Intel bought the chip business and Compaq bought the rest. Intel then set about killing off the fastest chip of the era to replace it their dismal failure of the Itantium. (Conning HP, now owners of Compaq, in to give up their PA-RISC and joining the Itanic sinking ship in to the bargin). A chip 20 years in gestation, slower than the last 5 year old neglected alphas for the first 2 generations, the last of major chips to go to dual core just this year, and now with such a small market share RISC OS could claim to be more of an industy standard.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 8/9/06 12:40PM
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JWoody: "it did not become the industry standard therefore Acorn did not influence anything"

On this logic, Xerox PARC didn't influence anything either, and neither did Apple's first GUI systems. In other words, your logic is totally flawed. Quite apart from that, your comment above about Acorn not even being on the radar of other companies, is also demonstrably incorrect, as others have shown.

There may be an argument for saying that Acorn didn't have as great an influence as Richard Hallas has suggested, but what you've said so far just isn't convincing at all. In fact, it suggests that more people than I'd thought will learn things from Richard's book!

dgs

 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 8/9/06 12:41PM
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"Druck" Anyway it was Xerox Parc that came up with Ethernet a long time before Acorn did Econet. No they influenced a lot of things. I don't think acorn coming up with Econet influenced anybody.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 8/9/06 12:43PM
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Unless I am mistaken, the Econet was influenced by the Cambridge Ring network that was developed at Cambridge Uni in the late 70's

 is a RISC OS UserWalks on 8/9/06 1:26PM
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In Reply to JWoody: "I don't think acorn coming up with Econet influenced anybody." Hermann Hauser said on the topic of Econet: 'I think we could easily have standardised had we realised that standards were becoming important. Then in 1984 it was basically copied by Apple, and it's now called AppleTalk'. So it didn't influence anybody, hmm?

 is a RISC OS UserCogs on 08/09/06 4:19PM
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torbenm wrote>"I doubt ARM would have survived long without being separated from Acorn, Few companies would use a processor whose fate rest with a competitor."

That's why you don't try to get a compeditor to buy into it (as Acorn did). You find Consumer Electronics outfits and get *them* interested, you pick areas where performance are important (e.g., video decoding, audio processing, realtime systems etc.,) and target your chip there. The fact Acorn is building desktop computers would not in the least bit worry them - as Acorn and they are in *different domains*.

Unfortunately Acorn chose Apple. A compeditor. Who said "thank you very much" and proceeded to (I would suggest) steer the ARM in the "low power/non-desktop" area. Eventually resulting in Acorn having no viable supply of suitable "desktop" quality chips - exit Acorn as an Apple compeditor.

I know a lot of people think Microsoft succeeded because they "licensed" their OS to others, but in actual fact it was *IBM* that granted Microsoft the "non-exclusive" deal that allowed MS to sell MS-DOS to others while also selling PC-DOS to IBM. In the end who was the winner - IBM who facilitated Microsoft or Microsoft ?

Simply "sharing" technology does *not* necessarily make you a winner - it's *how* you share it and *who* you share it with. IBM picked bad (and are now effectively out of the PC business), Acorn picked bad and they're also out of the computer business.

When it came to technology Acorn were (IMHO) really innovative and creative. Their business skills, however, well that's another story....

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 08/09/06 9:29PM
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"Then in 1984 it was basically copied by Apple, and it's now called AppleTalk'. So it didn't influence anybody, hmm?"

Thats funny I thought appletalk was a protocol like TCPIP and that Econet was a transport like Ethernet, hmm silly me.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 10/09/06 8:07PM
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I still think you give our American Cousins too much credit. Before 9/11 a lot of Americans thought America was the whole world. I don't think they would take too much notice over what to them would be a 2 bit British computer company. Was it not Apple that had to be repremanded when they claimed to have the first Risc based personal computer. As to copying If they were aware of things it would be a case of not invented here and I am sure we can do better.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 10/09/06 8:13PM
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Hopefully the thesis will confirm or deny the Bill Gates 'What is a network' I've always suspected it was an urban legend! I was surprised by the 'Acorn Case' thesis's abstract which called Acorn a failure, whilst they did fail as a computer company, they did make money for some/most? of their shareholders when MSDW bought them up!

I wonder if MSDW maaged to make the killing they hoped for! There was some uncertaintly about Tax liabilities at the time. Unless that was appealed in the courts I suspect we will never know.

 is a RISC OS Userchrisevans on 11/09/06 12:13AM
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(nt)

 is a RISC OS UserCogs on 11/09/06 3:57PM
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In reply to Jwoody: "Thats funny I thought appletalk was a protocol like TCPIP and that Econet was a transport like Ethernet, hmm silly me."

Yes. Silly. Econet/AUN traffic can be sent over ethernet. I'm fairly sure he didn't mean Localtalk, as that was basically just serial ports.

My knowledge of Econet hardware is poor, but someone has already commented that it was related to the Cambridge Ring. Possibly a lo-cost derivative. See here for some Acorn-era blurb: <URL: [link] >

The company set up by Andy Hopper to sell Cambridge Ring hardware was called Orbis. It was later absorbed into Acorn. I'm not sure whether Ethernet predates the Cambridge Ring or not. They were both developed in the mid-70s. Certainly the Cambridge Ring had the technical edge in the 80s. The Cambridge Ring went on to become ATM (which forms the IEC 62365 standard). Acorn were still involved with ATM as late as their NC-era STB trials for video on demand.

You seem determined to find some way to rubbish Acorn. Perhaps reading some stuff first would help?

 is a RISC OS UserCogs on 11/09/06 4:24PM
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Well as far I am concerned Appletalk uses Ethernet and Ethernet came from Xerox Parc. It is well known that Steve Jobs got a lot of ideas from Xerox Park so I would say that Appletalk came orginally from ideas at Xerox Park not from Acorn

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 11/09/06 4:52PM
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Uh... Case in point about reading stuff. The first place I looked for more information about Appletalk was Wikipedia. Almost the first thing it says there is "AppleTalk was not built on the archetypal Xerox XNS system, as the intended target was not Ethernet". It also confirms that Localtalk was a RS422 serial network.

In fact the Apple Lisa was the machine that took ideas from Xerox PARC. Appletalk was part of the Macintosh project.

 is a RISC OS UserCogs on 11/09/06 6:48PM
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Infallibale logic I see.

Indeed if as you say If Appletalk was based LocalTalk a RS422 serial network it was hardly based on Econet !!!!!!!

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 11/09/06 8:02PM
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Jwoody: eh, Cogs was right, you should do a bit of reading, start by reading his comment again! He makes two statements: quoted from Wikipedia: "AppleTalk was not built on the archetypal Xerox XNS system, as the intended target was not Ethernet" and: "It also confirms that Localtalk was a RS422 serial network."

He doesn't say anything about AppleTalk being based on LocalTalk!

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 11/09/06 8:48PM
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Ignore the second "In reply to" line, Drobe's comment system overreacting. It should read "and:"

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 11/09/06 8:50PM
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Where is the confusion coming from here? Localtalk was the physical layer that Appletalk was originally designed to use via LLAP. Appletalk was later applied to other hardware (ethernet, token ring). Acorn also had peer-to-peer networking prior to Appletalk. Hermann Hauser's Appletalk quote comes from this old article <URL: [link] >

Right, that's it. No more about econet or Appletalk, let's move on.

Another interesting paper that mentions Acorn: <URL: [link] > Bringing the discussion back on topic regarding Acorn's legacy, it claims here that Acorn gave rise "to more than thirty start-ups". Also, it claims that Commodore wanted to license Econet, but Acorn said no. Aargh, I mentioned Econet again! *la la fingers in my ears*

 is a RISC OS UserCogs on 12/09/06 00:07AM
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"www.poppyfields.net" Interesting read but there are at least some errors so makes me question some of the other stuff. For example ARM was not the first RISC processor. IBM invented and has the patents on RISC and the first risk processor was the IBM 801 chip although it was never made commercially.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 12/09/06 12:17AM
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Hermann Hauser is right in that Acorn had superior machines than the PC and may lament the lack of success. But my personal recollection of time was that the IBM PC had the killer application and killer extra hardware. i.e. It had the IRMA card that allowed the PC to be used as cheap IBM mainframe terminal and to download mainframe data for use in a LOTUS 123 spreadsheet. You could not go into any reasonable sized company in the mid to late 1980 and not find that every department had their IBM PC and they were downloading mainframe data for analyis, as the prices dropped they would replace all their mainframe terminals with PC and IRMA cards. IBM mainframe ( Or compatibles ) where totally dominate at the time so the IBM PC cornered the Commercial market. As PC's became more affordable like for real home use, people tended to go for the same as what they had at work ( ability to bring work home etc ).

No other company Apple, Acorn etc understood the significance of IBM Mainframe access for commercial use of the PC. This is one of the main reasons why the IBM compatible succeeded in my opinion.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 12/09/06 1:31PM
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Technically the 801 wasn't a single chip, so it might be correct to say the ARM was the first available RISC microprocessor. It's easy to see how the meaning could be distorted by the writer, as this part doesn't even directly quote Hauser.

Various RISCy systems or chips became available around 1985-1987 and exact dates seem hard to pin down. These discussions also tend to go on a long time due to semantics over the definitions of "RISC" or "available". :-)

 is a RISC OS UserCogs on 12/09/06 2:17PM
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JWoody: "cheap IBM mainframe terminal"

Interoperability with legacy systems may be a very good way to commercial success, but commercial success is not the sole measure of how influential a company's developments were. That influence was the subject of the discussion, not which company sold more units or became the "industry standard".

Also, I'm not clear as to whether you're claiming that Bill Gates never did visit Acorn in Cambridge (as has been widely reported). If you accept that he did, how does this square with your suggestion that American IT companies would simply have been unaware of or uninterested in Acorn?

dgs

 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 13/09/06 11:18AM
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"dgs" My undertsanding was that Bill Gates visited Acorn to try and sell them MSDOS which as it would have been a step backwards Acorn turned down. Just because he was shown a few things does not mean he necessarly said gee I must go back and implement these. Having failed in his quest to sell MSDOS I think he would have just ignored them.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 13/09/06 12:06AM
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JWoody: next you'll be telling us your understand is that Acorn were only ever a small Welsh furniture company, the BBC Micro was just a an elaborate hoax by Ian McNough-Davis, and you think ARM was invented by fairies at the bottom of the garden.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 13/09/06 1:20PM
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David Ruck "With very few exceptions to Americans what you are saying might as well be true. In 30 years in the IT industry all the Americans I meet had never heard of the BBC micro. You have a very British centric view of things.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 13/09/06 4:27PM
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The most influencial magazine in the 1980's about personal computing was without doubt BYTE magazine. I cannot remember ever reading any article about the BBC micro, BBC Basic, Econet, Archimedes, Risc OS or anything major about Acorn in BYTE. At best one may have had a footnote that Acorn or some British firm was doing xyz. I think this shows what sort of influence Acorn had.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 13/09/06 4:55PM
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James: Richard is writing a book about what actually happened, not how illinformed you beleive most Americans to be, no matter how justified. If no one had heared of Acorn, why do you think both Microsoft and Intel have flocked to its birthplace in Cambridge to establish "research centres", if not to ensure our native talent now is bleed dry in their corporations, rather than forming independant British companies like Acorn. Yes I have a very British view of the computer industry, because despite 60 years of US propaganda, the fact remains we invented the modern electronic computer, and the story since is then has been American claiming to invent inferior copies of things we've had lying around in cupboards for years.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 13/09/06 4:56PM
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Jwoody:

I just did a web search for '"Byte magazine" Acorn' at Google. It shows numerous mentions of Acorn in the magazine, from both the 1980's and 1990's.

Please could you do a bit more research before posting your rather vague opinions and assertions of this nature. Alternatively, wait for Richard's book to come out, then read it!

dgs

 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 13/09/06 5:04PM
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Jwoody: Or could it just be that Americans have a very American-centric view of things? Certainly Acorn was not able to break into the US market (protectionist trade policies?), but had subsidiaries in (at least) Germany and Australia as I recall. Was that British-centric? The Hong Kong Stock Exchange used them extensively. The Acorn Research Centre in Palto Alto clearly must have been staffed by ex-patriot brits and the whole Oracle Network Computer thing must have been my fevered imagination. Not to mention Digital's StrongARM. Ever heard of the TV show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?". Sibelius? Xara? These things may no longer linked to Acorn now it doesn't exist, but just because noone in the US bought a Beeb doesn't mean Acorn hasn't left its mark. Commodore PETs and Apple IIs were relatively uncommon in Britain at the time of the BBC micro, but noone here has suggested they were not a significant part of computing history.

 is a RISC OS UserCogs on 13/09/06 5:14PM
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"Dgs" Mentions yes. Major articles No. Compared to pages neigh reams on PC, Mac insignificant.

"Dan" Yes exactly "Americans have a very American-centric view of things" they also have all the large IT firms

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 13/09/06 5:27PM
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Dgs " You must have a different Google to me" I found one that stated the first time North American Computer Enthusiats heard of Acorn was a BYTE article in 1987 and that was not a multipe page article

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 13/09/06 5:47PM
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This discussion isn't about the size of IT firms. Has more innovation in the computer industry come about from the largest IT firms, or from elsewhere? Do AT&T or Xerox count as IT firms for the purposes of this discussion? Ie: Do you think most Americans associate them with computers or something else? What were Intel or Apple or Oracle thinking of when courting a firm as small as Acorn for its technology? Originally your argument was that, being large IT firms, they hadn't even heard of Acorn, right? Now it's a competition to see who is a household name. I think you've been watching too much X-Factor.

 is a RISC OS UserCogs on 13/09/06 7:39PM
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This discussion is about influence. If you don't influence the large IT firms then you can hardly claim to have major influence in the computer industry. I agree its often the small guys who make things happen. Also I would consider Xerox large, but did not exploit its technology very well if at all. Personally I don't think Intel courted Acorn, if anything they courted ARM but in some ways that was an accident of aquisions. Apple again it was ARM for the Newton. Oracle were trying to promote Network computers and Acorn brought into this. I think Oracle were happy with anybody that brought into their vision, I don't think that courted Acorn per say.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 13/09/06 9:07PM
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I must say, all this is an impressive display of goalpost moving, Mr. Woodland.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 13/09/06 9:17PM
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"I must say, all this is an impressive display of goalpost moving, Mr. Woodland." I guess you are entitled to you opinion but my guess is that its more my fault for stepping into the den of a lot of biased Acorn bigots.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 13/09/06 9:21PM
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Jwoody: '"Americans have a very American-centric view of things" they also have all the large IT firms'

That's an excellent reason for writing a book to set the historical record straight, though, isn't it? (Not that I'll be writing for the American market as such, obviously.) The alternative would be /not/ to write the book, but instead allow history to record only the endeavours of all those successful American companies, rather than the frequently much more innovative, but sadly less commercially successful, activities of the little British companies like Acorn. The saying is that history is always written by the victors, but I don't see why it need be a universal rule.

It seems to me that there has been a lot of argument here about what is meant by "influential", and it's actually a pretty vague term when you come to think about it. It can mean as little as that Acorn computers were the first computers to be used by several generations of school children (even if they grew up to do something unrelated to computing). It can mean as much as that Acorn, in the form of its ARM chip, was largely responsible for the growth of the embedded market. Either way, I'd say that Acorn exerted a fair amount of influence, even if it was often in a rather indirect way.

I'm not honestly sure what point Jwoody is trying to make. His presence here suggests an interest in Acorn, yet his comments indicate a believe that it achieved nothing of historical importance and doesn't deserve a book. If that's his opinion, fair enough; he's entitled to it, though obviously I don't agree.

Cogs: "What were Intel or Apple or Oracle thinking of when courting a firm as small as Acorn for its technology?" Let's not forget, indeed, that Acorn and Apple were both competing for the Oracle NC contract (Apple with Pippin-based technology, I believe), and that Acorn won for the simple reason that its underlying technology was superior.

Druck, Cogs, dgs and others: I'm pleased to see that there are clearly some people who understand *exactly* why I want to write this book.

Jwoody: "pages neigh reams" Why are you whinnying? Is your throat a little hoarse? ;-) (Sorry, couldn't resist...! You meant "nay". I don't normally pick people up for typos, but this example just struck me as funny.)

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 13/09/06 9:27PM
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JWoody wrote>"The most influencial magazine in the 1980's about personal computing was without doubt BYTE magazine. I cannot remember ever reading any article about the BBC micro, BBC Basic, Econet, Archimedes, RISC OS or anything major about Acorn in BYTE. "

How about these then ->

[link]

Discusses amongst other things Acorn's Galileo (sadly I don't think it ever was released - but Byte *did* cover it).

and of course

[link]

An article which discusses RISC OS in some depth.

There were earlier articles (including ones describing the Archimedes) but sadly their on-line archive only goes back as far as 1999. The point is that American companies rarely give credit for where technology originates (the Jet engine and Jet airplane being another *American* invention of course).

Yes you're right IBM's John Cocke *did* propose the concept and Henessey and Sutherland in the states also did substantial work on it - but guess what Acorn and ARM does figure in there as it *predates* IBM's first desktop RISC computer (the PC RT which IBM didn't really seriously market and the 801 which was a "design concept"), the Archimedes *did* at very modest clock rates (between 4 and 8MHz) substantially trounce conventional PC's of the day (it even outperformed IBM's fastest 386 of it's day by a factor of 2 according to PCW magazine).

Just because people don't give credit for some idea's to their originators doesn't mean they haven't taken notice and haven't been inspired - that's the funny thing about computing one thing generally leads to another....

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 13/09/06 9:37PM
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"Just because people don't give credit for some idea's to their originators doesn't mean they haven't taken notice and haven't been inspired"

Very true and working out the difference between who copied who and who came up with a similar idea and people think they copied is not going to be easy. Hermann Hauser may well think one thing, but it will be interesting ( esential ) to get Bill Gates and Steve Jobs view, plus their respective development departments.

Hopefully as Richard is doing a PhD then his research will require rigour and not allow for rumours and here say or just one persons view.

As to BYTE and Acorn. BYTE magazine always had a monthly theme like SMALLTALK, APPLE LIZA,NETWORKING, IBM PC and there was always 5-6 many page articles on the Theme. Now I was an avid reader of BYTE and if there had been an issue with an Acorn theme then I would have definately brought it. The few short articles that there were to me typifies the lack of influence of Acorn.

I would agree that ARM has influence and if you take the line that Acorn begat ARM then to that degree they have been influencial. But if you claim the BBC micro, Econet, Risc OS, Archimdies have been influencial outside the UK and a few hot spots then you are miss guided in my opinion.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 13/09/06 10:38PM
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the reason I always wanted an archie was cos of its speed :-)

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 13/09/06 10:58PM
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Jwoody: you've been caught well and truly with yours pants down round your ankles trolling over the Byte magazine issue and your scurrilous attempts to denigrate the entire British computer industry. Do yourself a favour and stop digging, its time to skulk off with whatever dignity you can still muster.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 13/09/06 11:06PM
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In reply to Jwoody: "This discussion is about influence. If you don't influence the large IT firms then you can hardly claim to have major influence in the computer industry."

Yes, but numerous attempts have been made to show that this did happen in the case of Acorn and you just ignore them.

It's not as if us "Acorn bigots" are just repeating hearsay. These are tangible legacies. I could quote all kinds of more impressive rumours such as the ARM-based Apple prototype in 1986 called "Moebius" which can't be tracked down, or the RiscPC seen on Bill Gates' desk which noone has a picture of, or the Windows 95 desktop's RISC OS-like 3D icons and icon bar which could have come from anywhere, or the antialiasing font manager which noone else seems to have had before Acorn.

" I agree its often the small guys who make things happen. Also I would consider Xerox large, but did not exploit its technology very well if at all."

The point is, whether large or not, it wasn't an "IT company". It made photocopiers, and later invented the laser printer. It didn't sufficiently exploit its computer-related technology because it wasn't a computer company. The Xerox Star probably sold fewer units than the Archimedes, yet Xerox invented the mouse, ethernet, the bitmapped video display, the windowing GUI complete with proportionally spaced fonts... noone disputes this, yet how many units actually sold? By your measure it was a failure and noone should give them any credit because noone in the street has ever seen or heard of the Xerox Star.

Ultimately this is the killer: What innovation has Apple brought to the marketplace really? All its crowning achivements were embodied in the Xerox Alto & Star, yet Apple is always put forward as an innovator. You could ask the same of Microsoft, even Intel in many ways. Of the largest US computer companies, only IBM has really created anything new and it had somewhat of a head-start considering it existed before computers did. Not to mention the rise of the IBM compatible PC coming about without IBM even intending it.

"Personally I don't think Intel courted Acorn, if anything they courted ARM but in some ways that was an accident of aquisions."

Without Acorn, no ARM. And Intel stilll had to renegotiate the licence to sell StrongARMs, let alone develop XScale. Acorn was still a major shareholder in ARM in 1997. So Intel was essentially courting a spin-off of a still-trading Acorn.

"Apple again it was ARM for the Newton."

Well no. There was no ARM Ltd before Apple courted Acorn for the ARM. That's why ARM exists as a distinct entity. As Hermann Hauser said, maybe Acorn should have licensed more of its technology and sooner. Econet on the Amiga? Antialiased fonts in System 7? We'll never know.

"Oracle were trying to promote Network computers and Acorn brought into this. I think Oracle were happy with anybody that brought into their vision, I don't think that courted Acorn per say."

Acorn's NC was the reference design. Maybe it was just coincidence that Acorn had the right hardware at the right time to fulfill Oracle's vision, but minimalist though the design was, it was certainly out there and not merely as an also-ran.

 is a RISC OS UserCogs on 14/09/06 01:14AM
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"scurrilous attempts to denigrate the entire British computer industry"

Next you will be blaming me for the demise of Acorn, ICL etc What computer industry do we have left? Amstrad, CMG Logica, Sage perhaps you can add to the list. Perhaps you might like to consider why? I

"Dan " As to Xerox Parc I DO think they had influence their research has had a large impact. What you seem to be confused about and maybe its me explaining it. I am not claiming the large guys do all the innovation I am saying you must end up influencing the large guys. I would agree about Apple Microsoft about lack of real inovation, but its NOT Apple or Microsoft we are discussing here its Acorn.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 14/09/06 08:33AM
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Okay lets look at PATENTS after all these should be the real measure of how inovative companies are.

Try searching [link] and looking up companies and world wide patents. Makes some interesting reading.

Acorn 8 Apple 11 ARM 1049 Microsoft 22534 Intel 27897 IBM 99994 ( Maybe more as ther might be field overflow ).

Acorn, only 8, crumbs I have 3 in my name ( Woodland is a psuedonim ) can I have a third of a book written about my contributions to the computer industry :-)

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 14/09/06 1:02PM
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How many of the ARM 1049 patents were were when Acorn owned them? Anyway enough of this silliness. It would be nice to think that RISC OS still had something the others would want in some way.

 is a RISC OS UserPete on 14/09/06 1:47PM
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"How many of the ARM 1049 patents were were when Acorn owned them?"

I would think zero they don't change the name of the firm on the original patent, It's just ownership that gets transfered.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 14/09/06 2:51PM
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*spies the goalposts being thrown several miles away*

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 14/09/06 3:01PM
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Castle Technology 0 RISCOS Ltd 0 Element 14 15

Your Apple one seem wrong. Apple Computer 3847

Some more for comparison

Sun Microsystems 14805 Hewlett Packard 51694 (famous for having a huge and diverse patent portfolio) Silicon Graphics 985 Digital Equipment Corp 7238 Nvidia 498 ATI 394 Texas Instruments 35917

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 14/09/06 3:04PM
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Peter "Your Apple one seem wrong. Apple Computer 3847"

The first few were all Apple Computers and that reveals only 11 where as Apple Computer gives 3847 as you right say.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 14/09/06 3:37PM
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Patents aren't a very good comparison. Acorn was mostly operating in the UK, where the scope for ridiculous patents is (or was) less. How many of those patents held by other companies are really genuine useful innovations instead of just late bandwaggon-jumping with a few tweaks to make it different, bodged own implementations of something that already exists, or frivalous nonsense?

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 14/09/06 3:37PM
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Regarding ARM patents and whether they were Acorn. This is all a matter of timing since ARM originally meant Acorn Risc Machines.

One thing : it is not a "must" to influence the "big guys". If you wish to have influence then you must sell something or have your product embedded inside something that sells end everybody knows it e.g. Intel inside. Big guys can become very small guys if they back the wrong horse or fail to see something innovative.

regards,

Malcolm

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 14/09/06 3:38PM
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Yes, patents are not a good gauge of innovation. Companies patent everything possible just in case they can make money from them in the future. When I used to work at Xerox there was set yearly goals on the number of patents they had to be submited - whether the ideas were any good or not was irrelevant.

Conversely, in academia innovation is happening all the time, but very few universities actually bother to patent stuff.

 is a RISC OS UserWalks on 14/09/06 3:57PM
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So how innovative really are (say) Microsoft ?

Let's look at their amazing MS-DOS it was another Seattle startup that penned it (they called it Q-DOS and I must tip my hat to them they were honest - QDOS meaning Quick and Dirty Operating System). In an unfortunate turn of faith MS claimed they had an OS when they had none, bought that pile of manure and sold it to IBM (can't fault them for having nerve can you ?).

As to MS BASIC, well BASIC predated Gates and Allen's (it having originated in Dartmouth college in the US in (AFAIK) 1964 courtesy of Kemeny and Kurtz). On the fly disk compression (aka DriveSpace) was actually predated by Stac Electronic's Stacker compression system (MS lost a court case over that one). They also got a slap over trying to use Borland's IDE style in Visual Studio (which is why I can move buttons round on a Delphi Form and have the IDE attributes update (or change the attributes and have the button move) - can't do that in VS anymore.

We've already established that Apple (for all their patents) basically flogged a "reinterpretation" of Xeroc PARC's windowing interface. And of course the iPod (which saved Apple's bacon as it were) has more than a passing resemblance to how the Creative Zen (and its kind) work doesn't it.

It all begs the question if these companies with paracitic leanings can "acquire" technology from a wide variety of US firms why would they stop at purloining ones from Acorn (or any number of non-US firms ?). The most benign interpretation is that uncharacteristically they did indeed ignore what Acorn did and so deprived their users for over a decade of advantages like scalable anti-aliased fonts (I remember seeing Aldus Pagemaker on an Macintosh - frightful it was, go below 10 pt and it "greeked" everything), drag and drop, an OS that can boot from *ROM*, a fast uncluttered UI, the ability to change screen resolution *without* having to reboot and so forth.

Yes the American's are so far ahead of the rest of the world, really, look at all those patents they must mean something ;)

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 14/09/06 8:16PM
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JWoody>I forgot to mention that if you *actually look* at the patents ARM claim some of them are pretty fundemental to how the ARM processor works (for example swapping registers on mode changes). As this existed *also* when ARM was originally designed and released (1985) but the patent was only applied for much later (and in ARM's name) would suggest that Acorn simply didn't have a "culture" of patenting things.

ARM does, and many of its patents *do* appear to involve pretty fundemental aspects to the ARM processor that even existed at the time the processor was originally released - so the suggestion that Acorn had *only* 8 patents and ARM had over a 1,000 is misleading - and that's even not bearing in mind the inherent lack of value of using patents as a measure in the first place that others have pointed out.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 14/09/06 9:48PM
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"would suggest that Acorn simply didn't have a "culture" of patenting things." More fool Acorn and well done ARM for wizing up.

Perhaps Acorn could not afford to patent much. I was advised that it costs about £50,000 per patent to get worldwide patent UK,US Asia.

"inherent lack of value of using patents as a measure in the first place that others have pointed out" There entitled to their point of view but it does not mean I have to accept

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 14/09/06 9:59PM
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AMS: "So how innovative really are (say) Microsoft ?"

Mindboggling ofcourse - however, their stuff is most used, so they sure are a clever bunch. Like I saw in a film yesterday: "They're so incompetent, that the guys ahead of them can't do their work right and fall over. They move up."

"We've already established that Apple (for all their patents) basically flogged a "reinterpretation" of Xeroc PARC's windowing interface."

So did Acorn and the rest. Apple was the first to take that idea and implement it sensibly in the consumer market. After that, the rest followed suit. So, we should be thankful to Apple, otherwise we wouldn't all be happily running Windows. Psst, don't mention Doug Engelbart, okay?

"And of course the iPod (which saved Apple's bacon as it were) has more than a passing resemblance to how the Creative Zen (and its kind) work doesn't it."

Ah, that must explain it. Popular myth will have you believe the return of <angelic-choir>Stevus of Jobus</angelic-choir> and his iMac saved Apple. Anyway, the iPod made them fat and OS X isn't good for the old teeth. So, we should be thankful to Apple, otherwise we wouldn't all (soon enough) be running Vista and having a Zune for Christmas. That's what I call mighty-fine-wise-a*s-country-trash innovation, yeah.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 14/09/06 10:52PM
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Woody- don't you get it? Stuff "influence". It's about *innovation* and you're /still/ missing the point of this endeavour consequently.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 14/09/06 11:21PM
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Woody- don't you get it? Stuff "influence". It's about *innovation* and you're /still/ missing the point of this endeavour consequently.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 14/09/06 11:21PM
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If patents are such a bad measure why do people pay IBM 2 BILLION Dollars a year for access to their patent portfolio see [link] They obviously think they are not worth much emm :-)

Yes some companies try to inflate their numbers so that in any cross-licensing deal they can claim to have x more patents than the other vendor. So Patents is not a PERFECT measue, But at the end of the day when you are talking such large orders of maginitude difference the imperfections are negligable.

Plus as I said people are prepared to pay very large sums of money to cross license so at least some people agree with me.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 14/09/06 11:41PM
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Patents are entirely to do with licensing, nothing else. The rise of the patent, within the computer industy specifically, reflects a culture change within that industry. About as many software patents were granted in the US just last year as in the whole of the 1980s. Has the use of personal computers changed much in that year compared to the 1980s? I think not.

Up until the mid 90s, the computer industry was predominantly product based. Software was thought to be well enough protected by copyright law not to need anything else. And besides, software isn't even meant to be patentable is it? Computer companies played their cards close to their chest until they released a system, after which any innovations were bound to be copied. The entire IBM PC was cloned FFS! That would never happen now as IBM would have patented every part it could, not through expectation of success, but just in case it was. Would the design then have been licensed to other manufacturers? Probably not.

Now we are seeing what ARM got right, and Acorn only understood too late to act before imploding: A huge upsurge in the importance of IPR. This isn't a huge suprise as it's basically the way the winners were operating from the start. If Digital Research had cooperated with IBM on the licensing of DR DOS, Microsoft wouldn't have dominated with MS DOS. And if Apple hadn't protected the look of its GUI by suing DR, or Xerox had thought of suing Apple sooner, everyone might have been running GEM desktops on IBM compatibles (Actually that reminds me, AMS: The Atari ST was booting a GUI from ROM before the Archimedes).

So in summary: in addition to what others have said here, comparing numbers of patents are not an indication of relative innovation because they have only dominated the industry since shortly before Acorn's demise. Go and see how many computer related patents you can find filed before 2000.

It is also interesting to see how many are even remotely innovative. Read a few.

 is a RISC OS UserCogs on 15/09/06 02:37AM
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Dan Moloney wrote >"The Atari ST was booting a GUI from ROM before the Archimedes"

I never actually said that the Archimedes was the *first ever* to boot a GUI, actually I was comparing it to the *PC* as only that platform would probably be deemed by JWoody as "influential" whereas Acorn (and Atari and everyone other than a select few) were "uninfluential" and therefore unimportant.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 15/09/06 9:49PM
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    "Interesting, what kind of information is spread here? Some people must have really close contacts with insiders in certain companies"
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