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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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