Sep 032018
 

The Centre for Computing History, a computing museum based in Cambridge, will be playing host to an event this coming weekend that should be of interest to any and all fans of Acorn Computers: Acorn World 2018.

Organised by the Acorn and BBC User Group (ABUG) in association with the museum, the event will run from 10:00am until 5:00pm on both Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th of September, and will offer an eye-popping range of hardware and software from both the Acorn and post-Acorn eras, with many of the computers on display running software for visitors to try out.

The exhibition will provide an insight into Acorn’s history, showing how they started and the innovation that drove the company to produce some impressive systems along the way, most notably including their decision to design their own CPU, the ARM processor. That single design choice was a significant one, because it led to a legacy that has lived on long beyond the original company, and the Acorn World exhibition will cover this as well.

The Acorn-era aspect of the event will feature a range of computers produced and sold by the company, including the System 1 and the BBC Microcomputers, all the way through to the company’s most iconic design, the RiscPC. The computers Acorn released, though, only tell a part of the story; the company also had plans for a number of other systems, one of the most famous being Phoebe, and this and other rare prototypes will also form part of the exhibition. Visitors will also be able to see some of the innovative things people have done to their older computers to give them an extended lease of life, by innovatively coupling modern add-ons with classic computers.

There can’t be many fans of Acorn’s computers that don’t remember venturing to their local newsagent on particular days each month. Back then, their shelves would have been weighed down with all manner of computer magazines, covering all the different platforms that were around, and with several titles specialising in Acorn’s systems – both the 8-bit computers such as the BBC Microcomputer, and the 32-bit systems such as the Archimedes – it was probably a trip made more than once each month. Acorn World 2018 will feature a number of those classic magazines, to remind visitors of those heady days; looking out for the latest software reviews, type-in listings, programming tutorials, hints and tips, and other features.

The Acorn legacy is that other companies have been able to produce computers based around the ARM processor that they originally designed, such as the very small and incredibly cheap Raspberry Pi and, at the other end of the scale, the much larger and more costly Titanium – both of which come from companies based in Cambridge, the spiritual home of anything Acorn-related, and both of which will be on display over the two days of the event, along with other post-Acorn systems.

Tickets for either day of the event can be purchased in advance, and cost £8.00 for adults, £7.00 for over-60s, £6.00 for children, or £24.00 for a family ticket for two adults and two children. As well as Acorn World itself, the tickets also grant access to the rest of the museum’s exhibits on the same day.

Proceeds from ticket sales go into helping to fund the museum, which is largely funded by donations and helps to provide an engaging and exciting day out for children to learn about the history of computing, how to write simple programs, and – hopefully – be inspired to become the programmers of tomorrow.

The Centre for Computing History can be found at:

Rene Court,
Coldhams Road,
Cambridge,
CB1 3EW