A3020 up and running – welcome to the 90′, welcome to 32 bit

Categories: Acorn, Retro computers

So for a while I’ve had an Acorn A3020 I purchased in the UK, which was waiting for me to pick up or ship to the US. As a thoughtful Christmas gift my brother carefully packaged this up with mouse and other peripherals and mailed it across to me. It’s turned out to be in much better shape than I had hoped with only minimal damage due to battery leakage (I had my brother snip this out when he picked it up). It actually looks like the machine was stored upside down so any leakage has actually dripped onto the metal shielding (as you might see in some of the images it’s corroded away the nickel plating exposing the steel below). Fortunately any corrosion has been removed with vinegar then IPA, for a nice and so far as I can tell fully working machine.

Front of the A3020
Front of the A3020

Very happy with the way this has turned out. At the time the Archimedes never really appealed to me, being rather expensive and with little game support compared to the Atari ST. However, using this today you can see how advanced it was for its time, taking the best of the BBC Micro and making it considerably better by adding internal hard-disk storage, much more power and a GUI (sorry WIMP to use the popular Acorn term). The ARM 250 (first SOC version of the ARM2 incorporating the MEMC, VIDC, IOC on chip) was quite an incredible feat. Given the low-power consumption of the machine (just look at the small size of the transformer to get an idea), and high performance it’s no surprise that the ARM went on to subsequently dominate the mobile device segment.

Great job Acorn !

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