With some notable exceptions, the history of RISC OS on laptops has never been great. Acorn themselves only ever launched one RISC OS laptop – the 24MHz, ARM3-based A4 – in 1992. Its name was based on its size, taking up about the same amount of space on a desk (or indeed a lap) as a piece of A4 paper, it sported a 640×480, greyscale screen, had 2 or 4MB of RAM, and needed an external mouse. The company also later announced the Stork notepad and NewsPAD ‘tablet’, but they never came to be.
Beyond Acorn, for a long time the most practical laptop solution was to run an emulator on another platform, with the VirtualAcorn range available commercially for Windows and Apple computers, and alternatives such as RPCEmu available for free. Hardware solutions have included the Raspberry Pi-based Pi-Top, as well as more ‘hacky’ solutions such as utilising an Atrix Lapdock, a laptop-style docking station for a mobile phone, and more recently a proper ARM-based laptop running RISC OS natively – the PineBook, supplied by R-Comp.
The PineBook solution was arguably the best so far, but still had room for improvement – and that improvement is currently a work-in-progress in the form of the PineBook Pro. The computer itself is the latest laptop from PINE64, improving on the original PineBook in a number of ways, and R-Comp is currently working on getting RISC OS up and running on it.
Andrew Rawnsley will be taking the virtual podium at the next RISC OS User Group of London (ROUGOL) meeting – his first time ever talking to the London user group, apparently – with the main part of the meeting being to talk about and demonstrate where things are with that task.
The presentation won’t end with the laptop, though. R-Comp’s product range includes other hardware, and a wealth of software, so Andrew will take the opportunity to talk about recent updates to the latter, such as Messenger Pro and Photodesk, and any other items people may wish to ask about.
The meeting will take place on Monday, 17th October, at 7:45pm, and will be both an in-person and virtual one.
Attending in person
The physical meeting – for which there is no entry fee – will take place at:
The Duke of Sussex pub,
23 Bayliss Road,
There are directions on the ROUGOL website to help get you there whatever your mode of transport, and once there head upstairs, to the Chichester Room (or possibly the Petworth Room), where you should find ROUGOL members lurking from around 6:30pm onwards.
If London is a bit too far away to make attendance practical, the other option is to join in online, using the Zoom video conferencing system. The software is freely available for most mainstream platforms, and all you need are the meeting credentials. If you’ve joined any recent ROUGOL meetings online those credentials are unchanged, but if you haven’t, just get in touch with the group to receive them by email. The online meeting will be open for people to join from 7:30pm.