Acorn System Computers

Acorn Home Page

MK14    System 1    System 2    System 3    System 4    System 5    Prestel Terminal    Atom    Proton

  MK14 Thumbnail System 1 Thumbnail System 2 Thumbnail System 3 Thumbnail System 4 Thumbnail System 5 Thumbnail Prestel Terminal Thumbnail Atom Thumbnail Proton Thumbnail

Acorn Computers was established by Hermann Hauser and Chris Curry in 1978 at 4A Market Hill, Cambridge.  They first started developing an SC/MP based microcomputer, presumably derived from Curry's previous involvement at Science of Cambridge working on the MK14 ?, this was apparently called the Acorn System 75 (has anybody ever seen one ?).

The more familiar Acorn System 1 microcomputer was designed by Sophie Wilson (then Roger Wilson) in two formats as an industrial controller board or a standalone microcomputer with keyboard and display.  The cards followed the Eurocard standard which allowed for an expandable system.  The System 2 added a 'proper' display and ASCII keyboard and could run a BASIC interpreter.  This was followed by the System 3 which added floppy disk storage.  The System 4 is a larger version of the 3 with two floppy disk drives whilst the System 5 provided improved performance with a new 2MHz 6502 CPU board.

In order to make inroads into the consumer market and compete with their rivals at Sinclair with their ZX80 the next Acorn development was the Atom.  The Atom was based on the System 2/3 but with the electronics and keyboard on a single PCB in a plastic keyboard enclosure (in fact the same case used for the System keyboard).  As well as the option of an external floppy disk drive the Atom could also be used with their Econet network which had already been developed for the System Computers.

Following on from the Atom worked started on its successor the Proton which was to be an improved 6502 based machine with greater expandability including a Tube interface allowing the addition of a second processor.  However the Proton never made it beyond a prototype (which can be seen at the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge) instead it became the BBC Computer.