[Electron ] [Communicator ] [Computers ]
By 1983 Acorn was the dominant supplier to the education market and decided to move into the business market. The Acorn Business Computer, which was originally called the Acorn Business Machine before it was launched,was the result. The range shares a common case and keyboard and is built around the BBC+ motherboard with differing second processor options. The Acorn Business Computer range was launched at the end of 1983 with the first models available in early 1984. Unfortunately Acorn had one of their periodic financial crises and the range was cancelled. The only model to make it to public sale was the ABC210 which was relaunched as the Acorn Cambridge Workstation (ACW). I am told that most of the other models were rebuild as ACWs so there are very few examples in existance.
The ABC range consisted of these models:
While the ABC 100, 200 & 300 are all designed to run their second processor operating system (CP/M, Panos and Concurrent CP/M), it is still possible to switch off the Tube, reboot the computer and use them as standard BBC B+'s using DFS or ADFS to access the floppy disc drives and presumably Econet (although I haven't tried this).
Looking at the ABC range now I think it is a good thing they were never shipped. When you take the cover off, you find a horrible metal case with the integral Microvitec monitor which tips forward to access the BBC B+ motherboard and "wings" that come down on either side for the second processor and the hard disc controller. There are wires going everywhere. I have suffered a number of cuts, scraps and squashed fingers working on them. They may look good on the outside, but the inside is way below Acorn's normal standard of build.
The ABC range is described in the Acorn leaflet Acorn Business Computer .
In October 1984 Acorn User published a news item titled "New Acorn Micro".
In November 1984 Acorn User published a review of the ABC310 titled "Vertical tack of the ABC "
In April 1985 Personal Computer World published a review of the ABC310 titled "Acorn ABC 310 "
The ABC Personal Assistant is simply a repackaged BBC B+ with a 5.¼" floppy disc drive, Econet and a green screen. View and Viewsheet in ROM provide the applications. [Wanted]
The ABC terminal is an Econet terminal with no local disc drive or applications. It runs a VT100 terminal emulation and has a green screen. [Wanted]
The ABC 100 is a twin 5¼" floppy disc drive CP/M system with the BBC Micro Z80 second processor packaged inside the ABC case. The applications are MemoPlan, FilePlan, MicroPlan and GraphPlan. It has a green screen. [Wanted]
The ABC 110 is the same as the ABC 100 with the second 5¼" floppy disc drive replaced by a 10MB hard disc and a colour screen. The hard disc is connected via an Acorn SCSI card and an Adaptec MFM card.
Here are further details of the ABC110
The ABC 200 is a twin 5¼" floppy disc drive system with a National Semiconductor 32016 second processor. It ran the Panos operating system, although I have not seen this confirmed in writing. It has a green screen. It was shipped with a range of programming languages including C, LISP, ISO-Pascal, Fortran 77, FORTH, BBC BASIC and assembler. [Wanted]
Here are further details of the Panos Operating System.
The ABC 210 is the same as the ABC 200 with the second 5¼" floppy disc drive replaced by a 10MB hard disc and a colour screen. The 32016 second processor memory is increased to 1MB. Various reports on the internet suggest that Xenix (a version of Unix), and a virtual memory manager, were ported to the ABC210 and replaced Panos, however I have not found any evidence to confirm this.
The ACW is the same as the ABC 210 except for a larger 20MB disc drive.
Here are further details of the Acorn Cambridge Workstation .
The ABC 300 is a twin 5¼" floppy disc drive system with an Intel 80286 second processor (this was never available for the BBC micro and the BBC Master 512 used an Intel 80186 processor). It ran Digital research Concurrent DOS and had a desk top manager. [Wanted]
The ABC 310 is the same as the ABC300 with the second 5¼" floppy disc drive replaced by a 10MB hard disc and a colour screen.. I have recently heard of a survivingABC 310 . Richard Kirkpatrick has posted a description and some photos of the system on his Retrotech web site. If you have an unwanted ABC310 please let me know :-) [Wanted]