4 posts • joined 28 Apr 2010
ARM Machine Code
Whatever happened to all those genius programmers who wrote fast, efficient and small programs for the Acorn RiscPC? I am so surprised that something based on RISC OS is not the definitive phone OS. Imagine being able to program your phone in BBC BASIC!! After all the original designers of the ARM chip also wrote the BBC OS and BBC BASIC. Ahh memories!
Renée James ought to know that making comments such as won't run & never will run are bound to backfire on you. I recall in the 90's being told that you would never be able to run Microsoft OS's or applications on the Acorn RiscPC. They forgot to tell the people who went off and wrote the PC Emulator - they didn't know it was impossible, so they did it!
There are numerous stories similar to this concerning Acorn developers and the ARM chip in particular. There was a relatively small band of programmers who dedicated themselves to getting the most out of the ARM chips of the day. Now, if you could find and harness those guys you could really make things fly.
ARM - the early years
As a software publisher originally for the BBC and later the Acorn Risc Machine (ARM) my company was in at grass roots level the start of the ARM story. There were so many things that could not be done, according to conventional wisdom. Thank goodness for the band of innovative and often self taught programmers who made the Archimedes (generation 1) and later RiscPC platforms, do things they were not intended to do. It was due to the largely self taught nature of many of these guys that produced the CAN DO attitude the UK is famous for.
My guys produced a simulation of the ARM chip running BBC Basic on a BBC Micro. This was before there was any silicon and was based solely on the specification from Acorn's brilliant team. They wrote applications that worked first time on the pre production prototypes!
I would love somebody to look into the early background of the ARM chip with emphasis on the early usage of ARM computers and the Acorn RISC OS operating system. There were many rumours of systems being used in high security applications because of their speed but also because nobody bothered to write viruses for RISC OS. The Hong Kong stock exchange was one name that kept cropping up.
There is a fascinating story to be uncovered and I wonder how many of the old programmers are still around that could squeeze more out of these processors than convention would anticipate. These guys often wrote in machine code but to get programs to market quickly they would often use BBC Basic coupled with machine code where the speed was needed. It was not until the C compiler arrived that we started getting the BLOATWARE so common in the PC market.
Current software such as the XARA series on PC were firmly rooted in the old Acorn market
Anyone want to take on a project?
I wonder how much Acorn got into Apple
Maybe none at all but I do recall being shown a WORKING Acorn Pad sometime around 1997/8 - but I cannot be certain of date. It was DEFINITELY pre 1999. Like Apple, Acorn had a tight well written OS integrated very closely with the hardware. There was no need for a graphics card and having the core of the OS in ROM provided a good level of protection from viruses.
Often when I read of what Apple or ARM are doing my mind is taken back to items I was shown at Acorn - sometimes officially & sometimes unofficially. There was a huge pool of talent within Acorn and its ISVs, IHVs etc. many able to write major applications completely in machine code. Compared to application size today they were tiny.
Sometimes it is a pity that we can't live in the past because SOME things were better
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