What is an Acorn?
Acorns are not just the fruits of the oak-tree,
it also used to be the name of an English company that made computers.
Acorn started that before 1980.
The first computer Acorn made was the 'Atom',
which was later followed by the 'Electron'.
The major breaktrough for Acorn came when the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) wanted to start a computer course. A computer was part of the course material. The BBC chose a computer system that was about to be released to the market by Acorn by the name of 'Proton'.
The name 'Proton' was changed into 'BBC Computer' and that system was used by the BBC in their course. But it also became available on the consumer market.
The BBC Computer was far ahead of it's time. Compared to the competing systems in those days it was certainly not the cheapest, but it was the most complete and made out of high quality components. The design of hardware and software were very good too. This made it easier to develop hardware and software for the Acorn systems.
Through the years, Acorn has produced many more systems and those were always not the cheapest, but they were the very best systems available on the market.
Unfortunately Acorn has never been able to reach a good position in the computer market. There was always just a small number of people who understood the value of their products and were prepared to pay for that.
The market chose the IBM-PC. That mainly started in the business market. IBM was of course well-known for it's mainframe compters. Nobody had ever heard of Acorn. The consumer market followed when cheaper systems became available that were 'compatible' to the IBM-PC, the so-called 'clones'.
Acorn Computers were not 'compatible'. And for a very good reason! They had always been far ahead of their time, and had a much better design. But it is a nuisance if you can't read your neighbour's disks and if your programs will not work on his computer.
Modern Acorn systems have no problem reading and writing MS-DOS disks and they can even run DOS and Windows software. That is because it has now been built into the system as a standard 'feature'.
In the end, Acorn didn't make it. The company has been ended in the fall of 1998. Maybe other companies will continue, starting from the accomplishments of Acorn. There are initiatives in that direction. But we will have to wait and see what the results will be.
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Aug 24 2004
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