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Maudlin over RISC OS

By Martin Hansen. Published: 3rd Jan 2008, 21:11:38 | Permalink | Printable

Martin Hansen brings one of his old apps up-to-date while reflecting on the past 27 years of using Acorn and RISC OS kit

A BBC MicroOpinion - New Year is traditionally a time in which the achievements, surprises and disappointments of the previous year are reflected upon. Often, in spite of the fireworks and wild parties, time is set aside in which to dwell upon one's private thoughts. As 2008 is now underway I've found myself mulling over my involvement with RISC OS. Whether I like it or not, my involvement in the Acorn and RISC OS scene has been a significant part of my life over the past 27 years.

I've spent several moments during 2007 tinkering with an old desktop application, WordChain, which I wrote during the Christmas season in 1989. This was published, in October 1990, in the long defunct Micro User magazine. I've since spent the first few days of 2008 finishing my software upgrade, uploading it to my website as a free download, and penning a related article. This is the result: a collection of the thoughts that have been in my head as I've reworked an 18 year old program.

How it all began
My first point of contact with what, in retrospect, became RISC OS, occurred in 1981. I was in my final year at university. A mate turned up with one of the very first BBC microcomputers. I didn't understand the point of the machine, nor why my friend had spent almost £400. However, it made an impact. TV in those days fed you information. To be able to place your own material and ideas on a television screen was mind-blowing.

Originally thought to be worthy of a production run of 12,000 units, well over a million of the 8-bit BBC micros were manufactured before being discontinued in 1986. By then I was hooked. I had ended up in one of the 60 percent of schools that opted to invest in the BBC micro. With first one, and later several, sitting in my classroom, my curiosity got the better of me. I drifted into writing software, motivated by wanting to create for myself the (then new) fractals associated with the geometry of the mandelbrot set.

The launch of RISC OS 2 for the Archimedes range in 1989 coincided with, for me, my financial compensation from being a passenger in a car crash. This seemed like a great opportunity to be a part of the most exciting thing around and I paid around £1,400 for an Archimedes A410/1. With built in floppy drive, hard drive and one whole megabyte of RAM, this was my dream machine. I was determined to get to grips with programming the desktop, and so spent a further £75 on a set of Acorn's Programmer's Reference Manuals.

Writing my own software
The target I set myself was to have a piece of software published in one of the many RISC OS magazines that were, at that time, widely available in newsagents such as WH Smith. WordChain was written over a two week period during which I programmed for 12 hours a day. It was total immersion and, even if I do say so myself, a great piece of early RISC OS 2 software was the result. The idea was to have a program that allowed its user to design and print Lewis Carroll's famous doublets word puzzles for others to solve.

Click for biggerThe screenshot, left, shows the original program working perfectly on a modern day RISC OS machine, an Iyonix, and being used not to design but to solve a doublet. Connecting the start word 'head' to the finish word 'tail' is a sequence of four linking words, each differing by one letter from the word before: head - heal - teal - tell - tall - tail. A proper doublet puzzle, such as this one, has start and finish words that have an association of some kind. Turning 'love' into 'hate' or 'ape' into 'man' are two other classic doublet puzzles.

A surprising number of puzzles on the Internet and in magazines have lost this aspect of the doublet. Such blunders makes one despair at the overall level of intelligence of the human race. WordChain was remarkable because of the natural way it dynamically used the built-in RISC OS menuing system to effortlessly present all possible words that might come next in the chain.

Old media
I still have a copy of the edition of the Micro User in which my program was published as a two page feature. The New Year has seen me flicking through its pages. In August 1990, programming was still a big part of what mainstream computing was all about: books, manuals, and languages such as LOGO, C and FORTRAN are promoted heavily within.

There is a five page program listing for enthusiastic readers to type in. I marvel that I used to have the patience to type in such things. As a pastime, entering program listings by hand was well past its peak in popularity, even in 1990. In fact, my WordChain application was used to help sell the separately available monthly disc rather than being presented as a listing.

Amongst the 132 pages, advertisements for ancient looking dot matrix printers at £636 plus VAT are particularly amusing. Watford Electronics (remember them ?) have a 14-page advertisement featuring a bewildering variety of paraphernalia to upgrade, enhance or otherwise enliven the early 1990s computing experience. I'm confident that all that is advertised will have long since been placed into skips.

From programming to using
The move towards presenting a computer as a machine on which to run programs, rather than a thing to be programmed, is surprisingly advanced given that the Archimedes had so recently been launched and that its predecessor, the BBC micro, just didn't have the speed or memory to allow sensible applications to be run. The WordWise wordprocessor was a comendable pre-desktop attempt, admittedly.

Looking at the magazine, it would appear the Acorn world is holding its own. Adverts and features present a lively and fast changing environment into which new software and hardware is being enthusiastically channelled. Desktop publishing (Ovation for £99), word processing (PenDown for £39), graph drawing (Graphbox for £80) and a video digitizer for around £300 all feature prominently. This particular issue of Micro User is targetted at those wishing to use their machine to make music. If games are your thing, there are plenty available on both tape cassette or floppy disc.

Ah yes, in 1990, Acorn Computers Ltd, manufacturer of the fastest microcomputer in the world, were poised to take over the world. A steady flow of innovative and aggressive hardware developments from the company over the next six years and culminating in the StrongARM upgrade for the RiscPC really should have kept the RISC OS flag flying high. But in 1998, Acorn was unceremoniously broken up. Can any New Year's Eve pass without RISC OS enthusiasts glumly reflecting upon what could have been, should have been, but, tragically, never was? We are probably doomed to forever more ask ourselves: "What went wrong?"

"Acorn messed it up"
I guess that all of us who have lived through the Acorn years have our lists from which we can build an "Acorn messed it up" rant. What can I concoct, as I pour myself a drink, and type (ever more maudlin) into my Iyonix's keyboard? And why don't we have speech recognition? It's 2008, for goodness sake.

Small things randomly pop into my head as I stare into my half empty beer glass: games were not converted fast enough or cutting edge enough to make full use of the breathtakingly fast new Archimedes machines - other than, possibly, Zarch. Ah yes, that was ahead of its time in 1990.

I can recall Acorn-loving teachers being irritated and inconvenienced by Acorn's failure to have a system in place to quickly release urgently needed new printer drivers as home printing left dot-matrix behind for the emerging laser and bubble/ink jet technologies. Product specific kit meant a replacement keyboard for my A5000 in 1997 cost an immovable £120 when, in the local shops, similar for a PC was plunging towards £10. I've never minded paying a little more for RISC OS but that hurt.

Recalling bigger problems from those years makes me both angry and sad. Overall, as a RISC OS user, I remember being forced to be increasingly defensive about persisting with a machine that seemed less and less mainstream. Acorn continuously didn't help itself. Always, they were one step behind. CD-ROMs were increasingly non-Acorn compatible, a colour laptop was developed but not deployed, the Internet became another arena in which Acorn machines struggled to keep up, and multimedia support seemed to be a non-starter if you were using RISC OS. Many promising developments just didn't go the full distance. Browse, Replay, and Cineroma are but three potentially platform saving applications whose development was underfunded and allowed to stagnate before they had fully flowered.

The biggest problem of all was that Acorn just didn't have the knack of keeping people believing in them, be they the BBC, the Government, teachers in schools, musicians, digital artists, graphic designers, engineers, games players, or home movie-makers. In education, I can remember the idea taking hold that pupils using RISC OS were being trained to use a quirky system that was trapped and isolated within the educational world. Outside in "the real world" children raised on RISC OS would need retraining in the Microsoft way. The Labour Government began funding Microsoft-compatible kit to the exclusion of all else (and regardless of what taxpayers felt). Shame on them for not only failing to back British, but being actively obstructive.

Despite all of this, I am still a committed RISC OS user. I use Windows when I have to, like the look of the latest Apple machines, but continue most of all to take pleasure from small advances in the RISC OS world. Personally, it's been the continuing development of WebWonder, TechWriter and a convoluted method of producing LaTeX under RISC OS that have most inspired me during 2007. I'm still willing to spend spare time updating an 18-year-old program to relaunch it as a modern release, albeit for free. At £40 an hour, the update is worth £3,200 - a figure that makes me laugh at the the £25 I was paid, even when Acorn was in its prime, for the original WordChain application. Yes, RISC OS can still make me laugh.

Click for biggerA modern look
In some ways, it is the slowness with which RISC OS has moved forward that prompted me to update my WordChain application. The original, written under RISC OS 2, was concocted before a consistent and established way of making RISC OS desktop applications look and feel had been agreed upon.

So, firstly, I wanted my updated application to have proper Style Guide-compliance. Even some of the bundled applications within the operating system have not properly converged upon this. Secondly, in 1990, I had opted to print each puzzle directly to a printer. Clearly, these days, it's better to simply save each as a drawfile. Whilst the drawfile can simply be printed out, it can also be imported into other applications such as TextEase, TechWriter or Ovation. I also took the opportunity to increase the maximum length of words that the program can handle from five letters to six, use outline fonts, and fix a couple of bugs.

For anyone similarly thinking of updating old applications, I recommend the excellent book by Lee Calcraft and Alan Wrigley called Wimp Programming for All. In spite of being published in 1993, it told me pretty much everything I needed to know to get the job done. My program is entirely in BBC BASIC, and contains a lot of code that's instructive. If you are after straight forward ways of doing WIMP programming without using other authoring packages, such as Dr Wimp, the code is worth looking through.

I'm not expecting my program to make one iota of difference to how RISC OS fares over the coming year, but I do think that an essential ingredient that makes being involved with RISC OS worthwhile is the steady trickle of up-to-date, quirky, interesting and amusing free software offerings. I hope Drobe readers enjoy playing around with my program and can come up with a few innovative doublets of their own using it.

And if any readers are inspired to modernise any of the many small programs that have made RISC OS so interesting and lively in years gone by, do tell us here at Drobe about it. Here's to RISC OS in 2008.


Visit Martin's personal website

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Next: Ditching desktops for portables: The way forward?


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erm we do have speech recognition (of some sort)?

I remember using it with a parallel sampler, to automate my A310!

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 3/1/08 9:39PM
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Heh. I recognise a lot of this! It's a shame Acorn messed it up. However, in a way I find using the platform a lot more fun these days. It's a hobby OS. Sure, we'll never be fastest again, but projects like NetSurf and ArtWorks are still around, making using the platform very enjoyable in those areas where it's still viable.

I agree with you about Wimp Programming for All - it got me started, and was a great guide to the Wimp.

Here's to 2008 too. I have a feeling this one's going to be better than the last. In particular, I'm optimistic about seeing real progress from ROOL, the GCC team, the NetSurf group, and the prolific Martin Wuerthner. Let's hope. :)

 is a RISC OS Userlym on 3/1/08 9:48PM
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We do indeed. VoiceCon works on RiscPC's and is by Jason Tribbeck and can be found at:


Would be great if it was updated for the Iyonix or A9 as MUG would have liked to have used it at one of the Xmas shows to automate the loading of Mp3 versions of game samples to feed an Acorn Atom from an A9.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 3/1/08 9:56PM
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Forgot to say , great article Martin.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 3/1/08 9:57PM
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I would also like to say great article.

It makes me think back, in the early 90s I worked for a computer educational unit for a local council where we provided support for local schools. The unit wrote software and kept the hardware going and *everthing* was Acorn. Back then these machines where light years ahead of anything PCs had to offer (Plenty were still running DOS).

Many years later all the schools had switched over to Windows PCs that wernt as sleek as the Acorns I was so fond of using, what went wrong? The government wanted everyone to be computer literate but failed to keep supporting an English OS in the schools so the rot set in and Acorns became a niche thing (Due to cost of the hardware I suspect).

Im glad we still have a community here and stuff is still being written, but RISC OS seems to continue to lag behind other OSes. Anyhow its great to see that people like Martin are still writing software for our beloved OS.

 is a RISC OS UserFuzzy on 4/1/08 9:23AM
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I'm always a little confused as to why people expect the Government to have supported Acorn more. How many other companies got the great start that Acorn did, some of it at the taxpayer's expense? Frankly, they were given plenty of help. As a private company, it was up to them to produce good products and market them properly. Arguably, the very fact that they'd been given so much support in the BBC era, and saw the education market as 'their' cushy patch, did them few favours in the long run.

My own view is that explicit Government help for private companies is rarely a good thing. Acorn would have been more successful if they'd sensibly marketed their products, pursued fewer pipedreams, been more savvy with licensing their technology (as they did do with ARM, in the end), and been quicker to adapt to changing marketplace conditions. And even then they would have been up against it.

 is a RISC OS Userlym on 4/1/08 10:13AM
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I agree that the government should not support specific companies, but it also needs to provide a level playing field, which is what it didn't do.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 4/1/08 11:16AM
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As alluded to in the article, we could go on at great length about what went wrong, how it could have been different and all. There's no doubt that there was many a lost opportunity.

The author said that Acorn was 'one step behind' I've never been particularly wealthy and was always a few steps behind. When the RiscPC was popular I had an A3010. When the Omega was to be the next big thing, I got a RiscPC 600. I still have that with an arm 710 in it. I would love an Iyonix or an a9... It won't be this year though.

That there are still versions of RISC OS and compatible machines being produced ten years on is a testament to Acorn's legacy. When you factor in the success of ARM, it's frankly amazing!

 is a RISC OS UserBecky on 4/1/08 11:26AM
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In 1987 you could get all the software you wanted for PCs - scientific word processors, programming languages, terminal emulators, graphics packages. The PCs had floating point coprocessors too. Early in the year the cheap Amstrad 1512/1640 etc. appeared. Where I was working was flooded with PCs by the end of the year, people were very enthusiastic. At that point, the Archimedes arrived - no software, no floating point support.

That is when Acorn lost, the vast majority of computer users in the UK had opted for the PC platform by 1987. All the experts, software companies, hardware suppliers and users had a vested interest in the PC platform after that date.

 is a RISC OS UserDavidPilling on 4/1/08 3:21PM
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80% of computer related work carried out in my Accountancy Practice is with a pair of Iyonix's using ultra reliable software such as OvationPro, Schema 2, NetFetch, Messenger, etc. Whilst I have Ovation for Windows, the RISCOS version is nicer to use and Schema 2 is far more user friendly than Excel despite its limitations. Netfetch and Messenger ensure that our systems are not infected with nasty Windows viruses and RiScript converts documents for export to anyone.

We have to use PC's for tax software and internet work but only when absolutely necessary.

I am quite happy to support RISCOS as long as users are supported and at the moment I think that support is there. I still receive free updates of programs purchased some time ago and have no reason to complain about anything.

I am confident that I will the Iyonix's will only retire when I do which is still some way off!

 is a RISC OS Userpotterco on 4/1/08 4:36PM
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"The author said that Acorn was 'one step behind' I've never been particularly wealthy and was always a few steps behind. When the RiscPC was popular I had an A3010. When the Omega was to be the next big thing, I got a RiscPC 600. I still have that with an arm 710 in it. I would love an Iyonix or an a9... It won't be this year though. "

Very much the same story for me. Just weighing up whether to get an Iyonix. What disgusts me is that I can't seem to get a clue whether there will be a successor to the Iyonix although given that I bought a RiscPC when it was a mere 5 years then it's certainly an option.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 4/1/08 6:55PM
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I would love to be wrong, but I don't expect to see an Iyonix II, or for that matter any new ARM-based machines designed to run RISC OS. I don't think there's any money in it anymore. The MD of ROL has been reported as saying the same thing. This is not necessarily something to get too upset about: there's a choice of eumlators, and the ROOL project may result in a port to other ARM-based machines.

If you buy an Iyonix tomorrow, however, and an Iyonix II comes out on Monday, I take it all back ;)

 is a RISC OS Userlym on 4/1/08 7:10PM
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There's no way I'm going to support RISC OS retreating further into novelty by buying virtual RISC OS as an upgrade option. It can only co-exist alongside original dedicated hardware otherwise it either dies completely (as an emulated version) or becomes a pale Linux imitation IMHO.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 4/1/08 7:15PM
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Didn't you complain about that some years ago? It hardly seems fair to expect anyone to preannounce machines (isn't that the mistake Acorn made with Phoebe?).

You have an added complication now in that a third option now exists of someone porting RISCOS onto an Arm device already out there.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 4/1/08 8:48PM
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That "not preannouncing" has long since begun to look like a smokescreen. It would be nice to know from Castle if they are interested in desktop machines or whether they do a silence-and-no-response-then-announce-cessation leaving everybody in the lurch so to speak as certain other developers have done.

I *think* they said they were interested some years ago but nobody seems to ask and nobody seems to report these things these days.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 4/1/08 9:48PM
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"The Labour Government began funding Microsoft-compatible kit to the exclusion of all else (and regardless of what taxpayers felt). Shame on them for not only failing to back British, but being actively obstructive. "

This was I believe largely down to a visit by Bill Gates to 10 Downing St in around 1997 where he saw a man easily seduced by the rich and the famous had become Prime Minister and he ruthlessly stuck the knife in the competition, finishing the job with Acorn as it were. And that's why he's been so successful commercially.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 4/1/08 9:54PM
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"nobody seems to ask and nobody seems to report these things these days."

The last time Drobe asked CTL if they had any Iyonix-successor plans was in November while we planned to write an article about the fifth anniversary of the machine. We didn't get a reply, and none of us had time to finish the piece.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 4/1/08 10:04PM
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I am feeling very maudlin about RISC OS thsi new year.

Castle have always stated that there wouldn't be another Iyonix until there is a processor that is atleast 3x faster than the current XScale, and that hasn't yet happened. Even if it does, the machine will still only be a performance increment over the existing machine, and vastly slower compared to x86 based hardware, and not much of an advantage over emulations running on such machines.

It still wouldn't solve the problems of gaping holes in the software line up, and its unlikely to trigger a boost in software development that previous generations of machines have. There are bound to be fewer sales than of the first Iyonix, as many people have left in the last 5 years.

I personally will continue to use RISC OS for most tasks, as although there might be better software out there for other platforms, my experiance means I can get better results our top software such as Artworks, Photodesk and Ovation Pro, than peope using so called industry leading packages. But there will come a point when I get my next camera that Photodesk will just be too slow for the increased resultion (I can just live with 7.1Mpix).

However, I find myself doing less and less creative work including programming, and am seeking more enterainment and information gathering which requires use of the internet. Netsurf is great, but with the abandoment of FireFox and lack of Flash, I'm having to consider getting something else to fulfill this task. Currently I'm looking at an eeePC which is just FireFox with a screen and keyboard. If I went for a full laptop (probably a MacBook) I'm afraid using RISC OS would become less compelling.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 5/1/08 1:54PM
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I leapt from RISCOS to PCLInuxOS and was a little wary of doing so. However I have reconfigured my desktop to look like RISCOS (just for the familiarity) and as for the software, well, astonishing. It's all free.

I thought I would have all sorts of configuration issues and the need to eneter command line stuff but I had NONE. You can get PCLOS from a magazine disk (or download off the internet), boot up a laptop and "try before you buy" i.e. try before you install to harddisk.

I can honestly say that all the complaints I have had about RISCOS falling behind, lack of applications, multimedia etc etc have all been answered by the 100% free PCLOS.

There's no need to spend a fortune on a Macbook either. A dual core 17" laptop for sub £500 will do fine. If you really must you can always set it up to dual boot the dreaded resource hungry Vista, which I have but I only use it for commercial games!

FYI, for free: OpenOffice - nuff said Firefox - with all the plug-ins and extensions including the ability to play AVI's, Realplay etc. All sites with Micorosft nonsense work! Digikam - (recent wow) an album organiser and photo editor Gimp - extensive image editor Amarok - music Synaptic - what a dream of a software install and update application. MySQL - relational database Perl,Python etc etc - the choice is yours VLC, MPlayer etc etc - a multitude of video players Thunderbird - email Games - loads of them.

The list goes on and on...

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 7/1/08 4:01PM
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In reply to Becky

If you can't afford an Iyo or an A9 (neither can I at the moment), it's well worth buying a 2nd-hand StrongARM RiscPC on Ebay.

I bought one 18 months ago and got an immediate speed increase of 3-4 times. You ought to be to get a good one for about £100-150 and the extra speed and responsiveness makes using RISC OS much more enjoyable.

Just make sure you get one with RISC OS 4.39 instead of 3.7 as it will save you the bother of having to reformat your hard drive.

Jon Robinson

 is a RISC OS UserJon on 7/1/08 4:42PM
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I have to admit to being puzzled by people thinking of buying an Iyonix now. I don't regret buying mine, which is still in daily use, but if it packed in today I would not replace it with another Iyonix. PCs and Macs have improved greatly over the last five years: the Iyonix is still the same computer (albeit in a different box). Running VRPC on my iMac is a very enjoyable way of using RISC OS. I think VRPC on a Mac mini would be both cheaper and faster than an Iyonix.

I will be very sad if RISC OS becomes an emulation-only operating system, but I'm not going to pay over the odds for a slow computer just to prop it up.

 is a RISC OS Usercables on 8/1/08 9:57AM
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It's easy (and not unjustified) to criticise Acorn, and implicitly hark back to a golden age when, if different decisions had been taken, the outcome would have been better, but I think we delude ourselves: Acorn was /never/ anywhere near big enough to sustain non-PC hardware and software development long-term. After all, Apple, a much, much larger company, almost went under doing the same thing, and probable would have failed but for the iPod. Despite its current popularity, it has now abandoned separate hardware development.

The true legacy of Acorn is of course ARM, not RISC OS.

That said, I remain optimistic that the ROOL initiative will result in an improved chance of survival for the platform. Software updates are still appearing regularly for a number of commercial and freeware apps which I use, and this gives me hope for the future. Thanks to all active developers, and a happy New Year!

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 8/1/08 10:46AM
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bucksboy: I'm not sure if there ever was a Golden Age for Acorn. If there was, I guess it were the BBC days. That's not to say they didn't have times of great developments, I just mean in terms of market success.

You say Acorn wasn't big enough to sustain non-PC hardware and software development, but even Apple wasn't that big a company in those near-fatal days. And Apple has never abandoned separate hardware (and software) developments. In more recent times, they've adopted more traditional PC hardware, but I think when you'll open up various Macs you'll find a decidedly unconventional architecture, combining traditional PC hardware with untraditional design.

Like Acorn, Apple had spread itself too thin in even more varying endeavours than Acorn. Apple's renaissance began as soon as Steve Jobs returned to the company and cancelled a large amount of relatively fruitless product developments. The iPod was perhaps the most visible part of Apple's resurgence, but in fact it has been a combination of several factors. That's not to say the iPod didn't benefit Apple immensely, but concurrently Apple re-established themselves in certain key markets where they've traditionally had strong footing. Plus they reconfigured their main assets, laid off those not serving the company directly and placed bright minds in positions of power. While Apple bought NeXT to acquire their advanced OS, it were the NeXT people (led by Jobs) who subsequently took over Apple.

In many ways Acorn was Britain's mirror of Apple. Both extremely innovative companies in constant struggle against technological complacency and convention, due to their innovative mentality and drive for advancement. Nowadays Apple is sometimes referred to as the R&D branch of the industry and I can't say I disagree with that. If one takes the time and researches the company's endeavours, one will find a truly remarkable and recurring influence on the technological progress of the whole industry. From the first successful GUI to one of the first digital camera's, from QuickTime to the first PDA and to radical change when necessary (68000 to PowerPC to Intel x86, Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X changeover). Some might not realise this, but Apple technology (and indeed ideology) goes far beyond the company's own products.

It's not often mentioned, but ARM Ltd became a successful company because it was separated from Acorn on the suggestion of Apple, since both companies were already working with the design for a while. Acorn and Apple set out to develop the ARM further in 1990 and one should attribute the following successes to Apple as well - even if the original instruction set and design was Acorn's. To this day, Apple is a major shareholder of ARM Ltd and indeed the iPhone and iPod products contain Apple-branded ARM processors, now even running OS X. Some of you will remember Xemplar Ltd, the joint venture of Acorn and Apple? Well, while Acorn pulled out, Apple continued it and so inherited part of the educational market which could have remained Acorn's.

It's pretty pathetic when some people disregard Apple as some hip brand producing ordinary products in fashionable exteriors. Apple walks a very fine line of balancing careful innovation with successful marketing. In contrast to what some might think, design isn't about how something looks, but rather how something works. There's your clue to Apple's success.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 8/1/08 12:51PM
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It seems to me that a RISC OS user aimed distibution of Linux might go a long way to solving our problems with applications.

What I'm thinking of would be a live CD that would make the PC act as a thin client application server. (A Home server for RISC OS)

For example If you VNC'd to a certain display you get open office for example, which would save its work to the moonfish share on the RISC OS client. Another display would give firefox.

(The Server could also act as NAS and a router if needed.)

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 8/1/08 6:43PM
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Jess: VNC is pretty horrible to use, I find; I prefer to have PC and Iyo linked via a KVM using LanMan98 to share directories/folders etc, and switch over to the PC when I need to do something the Iyo can't (like use a Flash-enabled browser). But the fundamental issue remains - why have two computers? If someone came up with a version of RISC OS running on top of (for instance) Ubuntu on x86 hardware I would give it serious consideration. We're constantly told this is too difficult, but I don't find the explanations convincing, and I suspect there are many RO hardware users who would buy such a solution in preference to running VRPC/Vista.

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 8/1/08 7:02PM
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Jess: Why do you still use and champion RISC OS? It clearly can't be for the hardware, because vastly superior hardware in every way is available else where cheaper. It can't be for the cost, because it's also so expensive. And now it would appear that it isn't for the software or GUI, given your (almost repulsively hacky) idea would involve using software on a machine other than your RISC OS box, and with a non-RISC OS GUI. I'm confused.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 8/1/08 8:03PM
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In reply to Jess:

Something like a mixture of Citrix and that WinRISC program?

 is a RISC OS UserMikeCarter on 8/1/08 8:59PM
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bucksboy: My suggestion would pretty much consist of standard Linux things configured carefully, so would require the services of a Linux system expert rather than a programmer. VNC isn't the most ideal protocol, but is one that is implemented well on RISC OS.

rjek: I like the low energy hardware. The cost I spent ages ago, (and the price of a new RISC OS systems needs to be much lower to hope to retain users.) The suggestion would be to fill in the gaps in software. The gui needn't be totally wrong anyway (no way I could see drag and drop saves happening, but the mouse control could be correct.) I use thin client systems regularly anyway which makes me wonder how is it replusivly hacky when it is a standard thing to do in industry. (And things like crossover and fusion achieve a similar effect.)

MikeCarter: Sort of. Published applications (aspiring to be like seamless windows citrix.)

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 8/1/08 9:50PM
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Jess: You like low-energy hardware? Why? RISC OS isn't unique in running on low-energy hardware, and you won't save much given the premium RISC OS kit costs. If you're thinking about the environment rather than you pocket, then RISC OS is also a lose: the larger a manufacture run, the less the overhead and pollution. Additionally, your ugly idea of having another computer running apps RISC OS can't for you doesn't seem very energy-efficent!

Thin clients are a completely different kettle of fish. They don't tend to have much GUI of their own, they're for running remotely managed applications. Having a RISC OS desktop with Messenger, Zap, ArtWorks etc, then then having a big fat window with OpenOffice running in it doesn't sound nice to use at all - and it won't integrate nicely like CrossOver or WinRisc (if "nicely" is used very losely.)

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 8/1/08 10:32PM
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rjek: Replacing my Iyonix with a different low enegy system (with a poorer gui) isn't going to help the environment.

The second computer would only be powered up as needed, (just as my current second computer is), but would probably boot somewhat quicker meaning it would be less likely to be left on to avoid delays, it also would save a screen.

Thin client applications are very routinely used by full fat client.

Having Open Office run that way is unlikly to be much worse aesthetically than RISC OS firefox and is likely to be better than the earlier versions. Certainly better than having to go through a second GUI in a window or turn to a second screen.

Crossover is reasonable aesthetically, however people use VMware fusion which is poorly integrated rather than use a second PC, and how would it be any worse than running things via X on OSX (eg OpenOffice)?

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 8/1/08 10:54PM
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The world of Risc OS is still active and Drobe has played a usefull part in bouncing discussion between acorn.groups and on Drobe. I would wish that this continue as it brings life to the Risc OS scene .

Trying to add this to Drobe to see if its still active.

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 08/06/08 08:17AM
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