BBC/Acorn Archimedes A3000

After the strong users' feedback about the very successful first series machines, Acorn decided to produce a version of its Archimedes that was closer to home and semi-professional users pockets, adopting a more usual and compact form factor than previous models, supplied in the typical three-piece configuration, i.e. the models belonging to the series 300, 400 and 500 that, in my humble opinion, were beautiful.
Also inspired by the success of the Amiga and Atari ST, Acorn decided to adopt the familiar solution of the PC-keyboard shape, and thus the model A3000 was born, and recently joined my collection. 🙂

The attempt (successful) to contain the costs for the end user, found application in reducing the maximum amount of memory available to the system, in the absence of an hard disk controller, in the limited expansion capabilities, even in the absence of a serial port, that was provided as disabled, because the management was delegated to special chip to be installed in the appropriate sockets on the motherboard, that had to be purchased as an additional option. The standard configuration provided 1MB of RAM, 1MB ROM, which contains the RiscOS operating system, version 3, a 3.5" floppy disk″ capable of writing up to 800K on a DS/DD support , two expansion slots (an internal at 8-bit and an external one at 16-bit), with an ARM2 processor at 8 MHz.

As the Archimedes products up to that moment, came with an analog RGB output, particularly suitable to multisync monitors of the time, and also provided a monochrome composite video output. The audio was always the phenomenal 8 stereo voices shared by the entire Archimedes family, with two stereo speakers installed internally, as on modern laptops.
Other option was the Econet port, cheap network format owned by Acorn.

The target of this model was, as often, the didactic market. In fact, after populating all schools in England with the famous BBC Micro, The Archimedes A3000, Also due to its compact form, managed to find a place on the classroom desks, thus updating to a modern technical level the previously installed machines.
The model A3000 I have found comes from a school warehouse. At the rear the cover is missing, its job was to protect the 8-bit expansion bay. Most likely there was a hard drive or a multiport adapter, which obviated the gap in the serial port, adding also an Econet door.
I have a curiosity about the expansion module ram that I found installed. The seller could not tell me the configuration, and I do not understand what it could mean an expression such as 1/3 MB RAM on this little board.
From a quick and inexperienced analysis, I guess it is a module designed to accommodate from one to three megabytes of RAM and, being fully populated, mine should be fitted to the maximum.
At any rate, if anyone could tell me more about this expansion, I would be very grateful.

Beyond the compact and stylish look, under the hood of Archimedes A3000 there were much horsepower.
It is estimated that the ARM processor installed in this model was capable of performances from 5 up to 8 times faster than those of rival era, namely that Motorola 68000 that lorded the computer consumer and semi-professional markets, finding place in machines such as Macintosh, Amiga, Atari ST, Sinclair QL, etc.

Whenever you promote a machine, there is always a kind of technological demo to show to potential buyers. The Amiga had the famous checkered ball, while the Archimedes family enchanted users thanks to amazing graphic effects from a three-dimensional game , even written in BASIC! This fact speaks volumes about the processing power of this computer.

The game in question? Simple: it is Zarch, better known as Virus to Amiga and Atari users.

Zarch screenshot – courtesy of wikipedia


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.