Friday, April 10, 2009

Acorn Archimedes A3000

Acorn Archimedes A3000It might not have been as successful as the BBC Micro, but the Acorn Archimedes A3000 was a true -and almost affordable- dream machine. It was released back in 1989, came with at least 1MB of (expandable) RAM, offered simple hard drive support, was fairly powerful in 3D, had high resolution 4096 colour graphics, featured a good sound chip, and above all sported that amazingly powerful and innovative RISC technology ARM CPU. It actually was way more powerful than the Amiga and even had the best version of Elite ever.

Find out more about the A3000 here, here or here. For your emulation needs either try the seemingly impressive and quite commercial Virtual Acorn or the freeware Red Squirrel.

Now, why not have a look at this fantastic Acorn Archimedes A3000 eBay auction? Seller ships worldwide, and you'll be getting a truly complete machine with hard disk, 4MB of RAM, tons of software, a mouse, DOS emulator, manuals, cables and a selection of other lovely bits. Paying anything less than 40£, 60$ or 45€ should be considered a great chance at a bargain.

16 comments:

  1. The Amiga and Acorn had similar capabilities, sound was equal , the Acorn could display higher graphic modes without interlace but did not have a hardware blitter or decent sprite hardware which made games programming more difficult than the Amiga.

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  2. Well...I don't agree.
    They were completely different machines.
    You can't compare a 68000 and an ARM chip, hugely superior (4 MIPS for the ARM at 8 Mhz, less than 1 MIPS for the <8 Mhz 68000 in the Amiga).
    You can't either compare a machine with a 4 channel sound chip (linear) and one with 8 channels (logarithmic).
    You can't compare a machine with graphics modes which use planes and one which uses 'chunky' modes.
    The Amiga was a game machine, not the Archimedes, it was not thought to be.
    The Archimedes on the other hand had many flaws : 256 colour modes are 64 colour modes with 3 automatic hues for each chosen colour.
    It has no H Sync so forget fantastic blitter effects like on the Amiga.
    Neither has it usable hardware sprites (only one, 3 colours (one kept for transparency), 32 pixels width, unlimited heigth)).
    The OS is impressive but it's cooperative multitasking, not preemptive (much better) as found on the Amiga.

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  3. VIDC is capable of way more than 8 channels Acorn-law sound

    Arabella demo does more than 256 colours

    Parts of RISC OS are pre-emptive, like most OSes

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  4. Of course you can mix the sound to produce more than 8 channels but the hardawre provides 8 channels.

    If you want to show more than 256 colours on screen you must sync the palette swaps and thus you just can't do anything else : the AMiga is far superior or even the ST.
    There is no H Sync on the Archimedes, and it's a real flaw.
    Acorn wanted the machines to be 'basic' (RISC idea) but this feature is really missing.
    Of course inside the chip there is an H Sync but you can't trigger it.

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  5. http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=270673866094&ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT

    This is a beautiful little machine, owned and loved by my good self.

    Everything works (will upload a picture of the system switched on ASAP).

    Original manuals, software etc.

    PHILLIPS 14" Monitor

    Flashback, Lemmings, ChuckRock, E-type Jaguar, Chocks Away, many more!

    I will probably update this listing as and when I scrutinise what I have!

    Any questions, just ask! I love this machine, and to be honest, am very tempted to keep it, but I appreciate that you bidders out there have the same passion, so another good home is a welcome home....

    There are some very good online-bookable couriers, so I think £20 should cover it, though maybe over two shipments (at the same time).

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  6. Excellent that. I'll blog it asap!

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  7. It was better in papers, but Amiga was the one who really performed better in everything, especially animation.

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. I'll add I've just run the Symposium '96 demo for the compo held in Germany (Hamburg) and it displays a 97366 colour plasma (so that's not 'only' horizontal coloured lines) with a 4 channel modtrack , and in the credits its author, Archiologics, explains it's done thanks to 'raster colours and interlacing'.
    So, Amiga lovers who don't know anything about the Archies, any comments ? ;-)

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  10. Just the statement of a simple truth: I want an Archie. Need it even :)

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  11. Amended comment due to an error... here it is back, corrected :
    Hello.
    Using very highly optimized routines to plot sprites, the Archimedes can achieve impressive results. The programmer behind Nevryon for example said he had more than 10 different methods to plot his sprites. I have developped routines to plot sprites (on a background), line by line, in 256 colour modes, privileging fast LDM and STM instructions, and the result is just... amazing.(ok that's about 4 routines for each n set of pixels to plot, but all in all it doesn't use much memory as there is no need of a mask). You can check here some old code, less optimized, using this idea, in my 1992 demo http://www.retrosoftware.co.uk/wiki/index.php/XTHOPAC_STUARC
    As far as the HSync missing interrupt is concerned, well you don't need to change colour palette on the exact scanline you want your new colours to be seen : if it's done on the line before it'll work too (think about it) so yes it is possible to display rasterized 'shading' colours (it's what some demos show on the Arc) even if the 2 Mhz IOC Timer1 is not always 'on time'. Few games did it, but there is, for example, a patch for Zool to get the same colourful background as seen on the Amiga. Many demos showed that, and I advise you to watch the !colours demo by James Allderidge from Buckingham at the time , it's an orgasmic experience ;-)
    And BTW, for the sound, the VIDC provides 7 level of stereo, and not 3 as the Amiga (full left, center, full right).
    Happy 25 year anniversary to these great Acorn machines !

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  12. do you want an amiga lover?
    well,you just fine one.

    before i comment i say something else.i give an random example.
    atari ste and powerchrome utility can load pictures with 32000 colors.
    now i have a question
    do you beleive that a "4096 palette machine" (amiga,ste,archimedes) with a simple utility or demo or a simple routine can impress someone who knows that the "real" capabilities of the machine is 4096 colors? i have all machines back then except archimedes but i play games and pacmania (with no overscan in archimedes,such as amiga) in
    i belive you need to separate "hardware specifications" and "software routines".these machines have 4096 colors and anything higher is fake.and if you do not agree,please give me an a3000 benchmark to see that.all these are tricks.
    i admit that Symposium '96 demo is very good but its the software that is made 97366 colors.
    well again,please separate software from hardware.
    the specifications for hardware is 4096.
    the specifications for a software routine or utility is...........unlimited.
    also i see a year before a youtube video with 4 ham images putting together with 16384 colors totally.what is this? blahhh,these are tricks,not really colors.the real palettes are the truth.not the routines.

    machine year palette
    atarist (1985) : 512
    amiga (1985) : 4096
    atari ste (1989 nov) : 4096
    archimedes (1987) : 4096
    atari falcon (1992) : 262.144 colors
    amiga 1200 (1992) : 16.800.000 colors
    these are the colors you see.the rest are tricks.

    a nice programmer is a nice programmer,i respect them,i respect the demo scenethey offer to people many "software demo surprises",but never compare a "software trick" with a "real hardware machine"

    these are the things i want to say to you.Be good.

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  13. Well. I totally agree.
    You can add : Acorn RISC PC (1994) : 16.8000.000 colors (24 bits) + support for
    transparency and overlay colours.

    My point about the colours you can 'see' on the Archies was about the fact that they can do tricks as the other machines do.
    Amiga trolls just love saying the opposite.

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    Replies
    1. YES,ANY MACHINE IN THE WORLD CAN DO SOFTWARE TRICKS.BECAUSE THIS IS DEPEND OF A "GOOD PROGRAMMER" AND NOT FROM THE MACHINES HARDWARE.
      IF NOW, THIS IS YOUR POINT,NOW I AGREE WITH YOU.

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    2. ALSO IF I AM TELLING TO YOU ALL THE MACHINES PALETTES (LIKE YOU ADD 1994 THE RISC PC 16800000) I ALSO ADD PC SVGA BEFORE RISC PC (16800000) OR MACINTOSH 2 1987(16800000 PALETTE) AND MANY MANY HUNDREADS OF MACHINES,BUT I ONLY TOLD YOU A FEW MACHINES FOR JUST THIS OCASSION.

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  14. Both have own good points. Same applies for Atari and Apple but not for PC. which have only one good point is common now.

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