Wakefield’s on the horizon – so what’s in store?

This year’s Wakefield Show takes place on 22nd April, so it’s time for a brief look at what’s in store for visitors – and judging by what’s on the show website, along with other factors, it very much looks as though there could be something interesting afoot. The starting point for suggesting that is a 4th April entry in the “latest news” on the show website’s front page, which notes that a short additional slot has been added at the start of the day’s talks in the show theatre.

Being short, in addition to the day’s talks, and at the start suggests an announcement of some kind can be expected – but although it is scheduled for the start, I’m going to save discussing it further until towards the end of this post. Instead, let’s quickly look at the general layout of the show and then any interesting highlights on the Exhibitors page of the website.

The event once again takes place at the Cedar Court Hotel on the outskirts of Wakefield, where it is spread over four rooms, three of which are given over to to the main show, and one of which is set aside for the show theatre. Putting that room to the side for the moment, the three rooms are the Hawthorne, Oak, and Cypress Suites, and to use labels that have been adopted here in the RISCOSitory bunker for a couple of years, the first two of those combine to make the smaller ‘Retro Room’ with the larger Cypress Suite being the ‘RISC OS Room’.

As well as the retro exhibitors, the Retro Room plays home to the show’s organisers, the Wakefield RISC OS Computer Club, and the charity stall, raising money for the Wakefield Hospice – with somewhere in the region of £18,000 raised to date. This room is your port of call if you are interested in obtaining a bargain (and helping raise some money for a good cause while doing so), or if you still run any of Acorn’s 8-bit systems – or even if you are firmly embedded in the RISC OS world, but are simply nostalgic about the older platforms. It’s always amazing to see some of the new things the 8-bit stalwarts are able to do with the old computers – both in hardware and in software.

The larger Cypress Suite is the RISC OS room, and is more focussed on the 32-bit ARM-based system that we know and love, with the main companies – big and small – that produce and sell hardware and software for the platform, along with individuals and their own hardware and software projects. If your interests lie in the platform as it is today – and where it might be tomorrow – this is the room that will be more of interest to you.

The range of products you can expect to see is as wide as ever – hardware ranging from small peripherals to full-blown computers, and software covering just about all your possible interests, from gaming to graphics, from mapping to music, and lots in between.

There are many familiar names amongst the exhibitors, including many regular exhibitors and some new to this show. Regulars include companies such as R-Comp, CJE Micros, RISC OS Open Ltd, Soft Rock Software, AMCOG Games, and so on, while the new exhibitors include RISCOSbits and Ident Computer – both names should now be familiar to RISC OS users, but this is the first time for them at the Wakefield Show.

But what of the highlights?

Many of the exhibitors tend to announce things in the last few days before the show itself, so there are no firm details on what they are working on or expecting to release at this stage. I can do nothing but ignore those for this post1, and just pull a few interesting snippets from the details published on the show website.

For gamers, make sure you’re armed and ready to aim for the head – because that’s how you kill zombies according the movies (so it must be true), and they are the subject matter of a new game currently in development by Tony Bartram of AMCOG Games. Tony is also working on a game development kit, and a Wavesynth-inspired sound module, which he will no doubt be talking about in the show theatre.

If your gaming preferences are less action and more puzzle-based, Sine Nomine say they will have a new version of Wrangler available, with two extra puzzles to exercise the brain. Less entertaining and more practical, though, they also expect to have a new version of map software RiscOSM, and the latest versions of Impact and other products from their range.

With a project that has some relevance to RiscOSM, Chris Hall will be next to Sine Nomine showing off the latest version of his GPS-equipped system, which now displays status information on a small e-ink display. Chris is a semi-new exhibitor to the show – in recent years, he has had an exhibit on the Soft Rock Software stand, but this year he has a stand of his own.

Veering off in the direction of hardware, RISCOSbits will have a range of things for you to see and buy – and will be showing off the latest development version of Wispy, which aims to provide RISC OS computers with an easy way to connect to wireless networks, and other benefits.

If you’re looking for reading matter, with a bit of luck there will be a new issue of not one, but two of your favourite magazines – new issues of Drag ‘n Drop are usually timed to coincide with shows, and we can hopefully expect a new issue of Archive Magazine.

Less reading matter and more reference material, RISC OS Open Ltd should have stock of their growing range of manuals, as well as selling SD cards for the Pi, development tools, and generally talking about the latest developments for the OS itself – and in the first of two intriguing and notable points about the show, they also say they will have “an announcement of epic proportions on the day” – so that’s definitely something to look forward to.

Which brings me to the second of those intriguing and notable points – and back to that short, additional theatre slot at the start of the day’s talks. That short slot is timed for 11:00am, and is listed as Orpheus Internet / RISC OS Developments Ltd – which is also the entry given for what is normally just the Orpheus Internet stand.

It doesn’t take much detective work to find RISC OS Developments Ltd on the Companies House website, which shows that it was incorporated on 5th April, 2017, and that its two directors are Orpheus Internet’s Richard Brown and R-Comp’s Andrew Rawnsley – a new company, formed by two people who we know have been working closely together, both to organise the Southwest Show, as well as in respect of the ARMX6 computer.

So is the new company related to either of those things?

Although formalising the organisation of the show might make sense, the name of the company would seem out of place for that – so it’s doubtful it has anything to do with that. The ARMX6, meanwhile, is arguably now a mature product, so if a company was to be formed around and regarding that, wouldn’t it have been done earlier in its life cycle? I doubt, therefore, that it’s anything to do with the computer as it stands – though that doesn’t rule out some new development relating to the ARMX6.

Another possibility is that it has nothing to do with either of those; that it’s for something entirely different – be that software or hardware. And it’s also possible that whatever RISC OS Developments Ltd is about, it has some connection with the “announcement of epic proportions” that RISC OS Open Ltd have promised – or the two could be totally unrelated.

The best way to find out? Come to the show – it’s open from 10:30am until 4:30pm, with a ticket price of £5.00 (or £0.00 for children under twelve accompanied by an adult), and takes place at:

The Cedar Court Hotel,
Denby Dale Road,
Calder Grove,
West Yorkshire,
WF4 3QZ.

And why not discuss the upcoming show – or indeed the recent Southwest Show (report and videos still to come) on the new RISCOSitory ‘Shows and Events‘ discussion list?


  1. I’ll ignore those exhibitors who hold back their announcements until the last minute, except to say this: Please, guys, don’t forget that as well as running this website, I have my own stuff to organise for the show, on top of my normal non-RISC OS life. If you announce things at the very last minute, there’s a very real possibility that what you are announcing won’t get mentioned on RISCOSitory in the run up to the show – thus reducing your own publicity, as well as that for the show itself.

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