This is a vintage Acorn A3020, a fine example of an early English RISC machine. The ARM processor runs at 12MHz, and this one has 4MB of RAM and an internal 80MB hard disk, making it a very powerful computer back then. Talk about ahead of its time: RISC OS 3.11 was a complete and user-friendly graphical windowing environment in 1992. Microsoft's Windows 3.1 looks positively clunky in comparison, and it took Debian even longer to release their version 3.1 ('Sarge') ;-)
At college I wrote a BBC BASIC V program on the Archimedes for my final year project which calculated solutions to the Numbers Game on Channel 4 Television's popular quiz show Countdown. The idea is to find a way of making a randomly chosen three-figure target number from six other numbers using just addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. One or two of the six numbers was either 25, 50, 75 or 100 and the other four or five ranged from 1-10, all chosen at random. It was never clear on the show if they had pre-tested the combination of numbers, as some turned out to have no exact solution, but my program gave an answer wherever it was possible, exhaustively checking every conceivable permutation of the given numbers much faster than Carol Vorderman could ever deal them out :-)
I still have the complete program listing and documentation; one day when I have nothing better to do (as if!) I'd like to type it all in and get it running again. This may seem a bit pointless now that there are similar solutions available online, but it's nice to know that, as usual, The Smith got there first ;-) Before I do that though, I should get the A3020 connected to my other (slightly more modern) PCs, to transfer data to/from the Internet.
[UPDATE: Alas, I never have the time to use this machine, so I gave it away to a good home, together with an Acorn A3000 with its special CUB monitor.]
© copyleft Malcolm Smith 2006-04-18 - last updated 2007-07-13 - links verified 2006-04-18