35 Facts About Acorn Computers


Acorn Computers produced a number of computers which were especially popular in the UK, including the Acorn Electron and the Acorn Archimedes.

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Acorn Computers's computer dominated the UK educational computer market during the 1980s.

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Acorn Computers is sometimes referred to as the "British Apple" and has been compared to Fairchild Semiconductor for being a catalyst for start-ups.

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Acorn Computers was chosen because the microcomputer system was to be expandable and growth-oriented.

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CPU's role gradually changed as its Acorn Computers brand grew, and soon CPU was simply the holding company and Acorn Computers was responsible for development work.

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In many ways a cut-down BBC Micro, it used one Acorn Computers-designed uncommitted logic array to reproduce most of the functionality.

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Acorn Computers resolved to avoid this problem in 1984 and negotiated new production contracts.

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Acorn Computers became more known for its than for its other products.

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Acorn Computers Limited was responsible for the management of the microcomputer business, research and development, and UK sales and marketing, whereas Acorn Computer Corporation and Acorn Computers International Limited dealt with sales to the US and to other international markets respectively.

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Acorn Computers Limited focused on component procurement and manufacturing with some distribution responsibilities in local markets.

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In developing these, Acorn Computers had to implement the Tube protocols on each processor chosen, in the process finding out, during 1983, that there were no obvious candidates to replace the 6502.

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Acorn Computers had investigated all of the readily available processors and found them wanting or unavailable to them.

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Electron had been launched in 1983, but problems with the supply of its ULA meant that Acorn Computers was not able to capitalise on the 1983 Christmas selling period.

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Ferranti solved the production problem and in 1984, production reached its anticipated volumes, but the contracts Acorn Computers had negotiated with its suppliers were not flexible enough to allow volumes to be reduced quickly in this unanticipated situation, and supplies of the Electron built up.

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Acorn Computers was spending a large portion of its reserves on development: the BBC Master was being developed; the ARM project was underway; the Acorn Computers Business Computer entailed a lot of development work but delivered few products, with only the 32016-based model ever being sold .

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Meanwhile, Acorn Computers's chosen method of expansion into West Germany and the United States through the establishment of subsidiaries involved a "major commitment of resources", in contrast with a less costly strategy that might have emphasised collaboration with local distributors.

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In July 1985, Olivetti acquired an additional £4 million of Acorn Computers shares, raising its ownership stake in the company to 79.

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However, with Acorn Computers's finances having sustained the development cost of the Archimedes, and with the custom systems division having contributed substantially to the company's losses in 1987, a change in strategy took effect towards the end of 1987, moving away from "individual customers" and towards "volume products", resulting in 47 of Acorn Computers's 300 staff being made redundant, the closure of the custom systems division, and the abandonment of the Communicator.

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In February 1986, Acorn announced that it was ceasing US sales operations, and sold its remaining US BBC Microcomputers for $1.

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In 1990, in contrast, Acorn set up a sales and marketing operation in Australia and New Zealand by seeking to acquire long-time distributor Barson Computers Australasia, with Acorn managing director Sam Wauchope noting Acorn's presence in Australia since 1983 and being "the only computer manufacturer whose products are recommended by all Australian state education authorities".

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Acorn Computers sought to expand into Germany in the 1990s, identifying the market as the largest in Europe whose technically sophisticated computer retailers were looking for opportunities to sell higher-margin products than IBM PC compatibles, with a large enthusiast community amongst existing and potential customers.

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Deliberations continued into 1986, with Acorn Computers proposing its own ARM processor architecture as the basis for the initiative, whereas Thomson had proposed the Motorola 68000.

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Apple and Acorn Computers began to collaborate on developing the ARM, and it was decided that this would be best achieved by a separate company.

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The bulk of the Advanced Research and Development section of Acorn Computers that had developed the ARM CPU formed the basis of ARM Ltd.

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In 1994, Acorn Computers established a new division, Online Media, focusing on interactive multimedia client hardware.

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The adoption of such hardware and software platforms, motivated by concerns about the capabilities of Acorn Computers's existing products in the server role, even apparently led to Acorn Computers becoming a Microsoft Solution Provider despite having been "very vocal critics" of Microsoft and its technologies in the past.

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In 1996, Acorn entered into a joint venture with Apple Computer UK called Xemplar to provide computers and services to the UK education market.

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The deal was regarded as benefiting Apple more strongly, with Acorn Computers developers being encouraged to port their software to Mac OS, and with RISC OS effectively being sidelined to Acorn Computers's set-top box and network computing products.

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However, in 1999, with Acorn Computers undergoing restructuring, the company's remaining stake in Xemplar was sold to Apple for.

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The range of multimedia software offered in the initiative was criticised: "none of the scheme's CD-Roms" were in Welsh, and Acorn Computers machines needed additional software, at an estimated £300 in extra costs, to "make effective use" of the software titles.

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Acorn Computers concentrated on development of digital TV set-top boxes and high performance media centric DSP .

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However, Acorn Computers pulled out of this tentative deal amidst accusations of attempts to sideline the consortium and to negotiate directly with its financial backers.

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In late 1999, Reflex Electronics signed a five-year contract to perform warranty work and technical support for Acorn Computers-manufactured products, renewing an earlier arrangement with Acorn Computers.

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Acorn Computers remained active until being dissolved in December 2015.

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Acorn Computers products featured prominently in a number of Educational television series, including:.

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