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ArthurOS with a floppy disc open

ArthurOS with a floppy disc open
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  The desktop with all the programs open

The desktop with all the programs open
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This is ArthurOS, the forerunner to RISC OS. When the Archimedes series was first introduced RISC OS wasn't ready, so this fairly basic version was what got shipped with the early machines. In some respects it resembles the desktop that was included on the BBC Master Compact series welcome disc - the Master Compact also being close to the Archimedes in the split design (keyboard and base unit were joined by a wire, not in one unit), and the floppy drives were 3.5" ADFS drives rather than the more familiar 5.25" DFS drives used on most BBC and BBC Master machines. The official Acorn Electron floppy disc unit, the Plus 3, also contained a 3.5" ADFS drive, so it had been on the cards for a while.

Computer Concepts decided to write their own OS to replace ArthurOS, but RISC OS was finally released just ahead of theirs. Part of this alternative project however surfaced as the Impulse module in Impression etc. for communication between different parts of the CC range - to enable mail merge and so on.

As you can see from the screenshots, although some simple programs were included on the desktop it is not possible to do much without loading things from disc - there's no bitmap editor (although a rather groovy pre-Paint monotasking bitmap editor was available from disc), and to get a screenshot I had to get the floppy drive working and write a one-line BASIC program on my RiscPC to do the equivalent of *screenshot. You might also notice that although I've tried to correct the time, the date seems stuck in 1989.

Never mind that this machine is pretty much useless, this particular unit (base and keyboard only) was bought off eBay for just £1.50 (P&P £10). A listing of an Archimedes with a "funny coloured desktop" tipped me off that it might contain this now rare OS. The machine itself is an A310 with THE EXTRA scratched along one side, so presumably it has been sat in a cupboard as a potential source for spares for a while until it was made available for sale, hence the lack of upgrading to RISC OS 2 or 3.

*help - click to see what's in ArthurOS.

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