This website is an archived copy of "Chris's Acorns", now hosted by The Centre for Computing History as part of The Chris Whytehead collection.
To view the page in it's original forms without this header, append "?cfch-archive=orig" to the URL.

Acorn FastNC

[NCs, STBs & Prototypes ]     [Computers]


The FastNC or Office NC (see photographs below) is also, reportedly, the CoNCord, although it is in a NetStation case and doesn't look like it would fit in any of the wing designs for the CoNCord.
A correction from Piers Wombwell "It does fit! Measure the gap between the LEDs and smartcard slot in the photos, and it'll match with any NC. The same with the (vertical on an NC, horizontal on the coNCord) alignment of the slot and the LEDs - slightly off centre. They were design mock-ups and never produced. The Acorn logo was stuck on with blue-tac. I think it was actually one of the enamelled lapel badges". Piers should know as he had the NC from Acorn (see below).

The FastNC is very similar to a RiscPC with a 200MHz Digital StrongARM CPU, IOMD21 and VIDC20. It has RiscOS 3.71 on a card which is a bit like a PMCIA card and fits (badly, the flap doesn't close properly) into the smartcard slot at the front of the case. The FastNC has an Acorn 10baseT Ethernet podule.

I bought the FastNC from Piers Wombwell on ebay in October 2005. Here is his description from the ebay auction:

 Absolutely unique. Acorn's Fast NC, serial number 1

Network Computer Inc (NCI) Reference Design

This was the first Fast NC (as we called them), or Office NC as Oracle/NCI called them. I was working on porting Java to RISC OS, and needed to do demos. Java demos needed a rather more powerful processor than a standard NC could provide, so I was given the first StrongARM NC off the production line.

There were a couple of earlier prototypes (with serial numbers A, B...), but they were unreliable, so I returned mine :-) I doubt they exist anymore.

This is essentially a RiscPC squeezed into an Acorn NC box. It boots to a RISC OS 3.7 desktop. It runs all StrongARM compatible software that I ever tried (admittedly I haven't tried all that much).

Note: This needs a network to boot. It needs a server serving IP addresses using BOOTP. I can give instructions of how to set this up on FreeBSD (absolutely trivial). It does not need any software sent over the network, though obviously it's not all that much use without software, and there's no hard disc or floppy interface. The ROM includes !Alarm, !Chars, !Draw, !Edit, !Help, !Paint and !Printers. The ROM also includes NFS.

Manuals and documents

Here is the Acorn Clan Fast Netstation  factsheet.


The FastNC has an Acorn 10baseT Ethernet podule .

Here are some photographs:

Acorn FastNC front

FastNC (front)

The FastNC case is similar (the same?) as the NetStation case.

NCI Office NC logo

NCI Office NC logo

Acorn FastNC right

FastNC (right)

Boring shot, but shows that the case is the same as the Netstation!

Acorn FastNC back

FastNC (back)

Back view of the FastNC showing the standard ports, from left to right: 10BaseT Ethernet Adaptor, parallel port, keyboard, mouse, audio, monitor and psu. You can also just see the security point on the top of the case which can be used to lockdown the NC to a desk or whatever. Note also the FastNC label on the Ethernet podule.

Acorn FastNC left

FastNC (left)

Acorn FastNC (bottom)

FastNC (bottom)

Bottom view of the FastNC, with the serial number F2B001.

Acorn FastNC with top cover removed

FastNC with the cover off

FastNC from the front with the top cover removed. On the right is the Acorn 10BaseT Ethernet Adaptor, in the centre the 16MB SIMM, below the SIMM is the smartcard adaptor, on the front left is the power supply and power on/off button (not working), above the psu on the left hand side is 2MB VRAM surface mounted on the motherboard, to the left of the VRAM is the Digital SA110J CPU and along the back are the ports.

Here is a HiRes picture of the Acorn FastNC with the cover off .

Acorn FastNV with facia removed

FastNC with facia removed

Here is a HiRes picture of the Acorn FastNC with the facia removed .

Acorn FastNC with Ethernet Adaptor removed

FastNC without Ethernet adaptor

Ethernet Adaptor removed from FastNC, as is the smatcard. A view from the back showing the NCI logo.

Here is a HiRes picture of the Acorn FastNC without the Ethernet Adaptor .

Acorn FastNC circuit board front

Fast NC circuit board (front)

Acorn FastNC circuit board back

FastNC circuit board (back)

Acorn FastNC circuit board bottom

FastNC circuit board (bottom)

Acorn FastNC Smartcard

FastNC Smartcard

This is the FastNC smartcard. Actually is is not a smartcard, it is mor a PMCIA type card and holds RISC OS 3.71.


Serial No.F2B001
Unique identityn/a
MotherboardFast NC
Reference Design
Motherboard part no.2106,000 Issue B
CPU TypeStrongARM
CPU ModelDigital SA110J
CPU Clock200MHz
Memory ControllerIOMD21 rev A
Memory16MB SIMM
Memory Clock16MHz
Video ControllerVIDC20r1
NICAcorn 10BaseT Ethernet Adaptor
OS Date23-Sep-96
SICK v1.22
ARMSi v4.0