Saturday, February 11, 2017

Resurrecting an old computer - quick note.

While I was getting the emulator up and running I noted this picture from another website;


Although I think this picture is from an even older version of arthur, it has some intresting differences (see the pictures below).

- The menu bar (bottom) appears to be green. Weather or not this was the default colour for this different version I am not sure.

- I understand the pointer in my pictures (below) is “squashed” but in this picture (above) the pointer looks much more “sharp”.

- Files just have lines (looking a bit like a hamburger menu icon!) in the icons.

- The directory icon looks much more squashed up.

- The bottom row of icons is different. From left to right, we have a hard drive icon, the floppy icon, a scroll, palette, notepad, diary and calculator. The one on the far right is a mystery - a black circle with white outside.


Resurrecting an old computer


Ok these screengrabs are from an emulator. But what you are looking at are screengrabs from Arthur 1.20 - if you’re not sure what that is it’s the precursor to Risc OS. This old OS ran on an equally old computer called the Acorn Archimedies. And it dates from the late 80s — remember, this is the era of the Amiga and Atari ST way back when they were in their heyday and the games machines of the moment.

But the old acorn machine used something which is still around today, namely the ARM CPU. If you have an android phone it more than likely has an ARM CPU inside. And I remember using this OS and that old acorn machine in my last few years at school. So I sort of got to use the very first ARM based computers! But what on earth did this early OS - arthur OS look like? Well, here goes!

This is the starting screen of arthur. A Blue desktop and icons for the floppy drive, colour palette, notepad, diary, clock, calculator and exit. The odd looking mouse pointer is some sort of bugette in the emulator.

Clicking on the floppy disk icon opens a new window with some directories present.

But I’ll come back to those. Let’s try the colour palette. Note that “bor” changed the border colour and Ms1/2/3 changed the mouse colour.

The built-in notepad. Note that it turns red once you type text into it.

…and here are your options for notepad. Load, save and print. That’s it!

The diary program. For some odd reason, arthur OS thinks it is 1997(!). Note that clicking on a day lets you start a simple diary.

The clock and calculator.

Going back to the window we had open earlier. Let’s open the “apps” directory.

…but before that, you *can* display the files as a list. But only icons or as a list. Nothing else!

Loading up one of the apps, here’s “ARM Paint”. It’s pretty basic — Dpaint 3 on the amiga it ain’t!

Arthur OS also includes some demo programs. Here’s one that describes graphics and the various screenmodes.

Another demo to do with the keyboard has a similar look.

Rather intrestingly, Arthur OS comes with a demo version of a game (”Zarch”). This runs a *lot* faster than the Amiga and ST versions (”Virus”).

Back to the desktop - but whappens if we hit “Exit”?

….this is the answer - a command line!

And it even has a version of BASIC all ready to use. The acorn machines were unusual in having a basic interpreter built into a 32-bit system, let alone one using an ARM CPU!

Quick and dirty basic program

You can even use the older BBC Micro screenmodes. This is “MODE 2” - 160×256(!).

It even has “Teletext” mode built in (MODE 7)!

….or alternatively you can use rhis simple text editor (which even creates the line numbers for you) in basic!

If you change screenmode this is what you’ll probably see — the default in BASIC/Command line is white text on a black screen.

Hope everyone enjoyed that!


Saturday, December 31, 2016

That’s it!

Ok, so I’m writing this a little early. :-)

It’s a case of …. that was the year that was. This year actually hasn’t been exactly brilliant but here’s having high hopes for …. oh wait, trump and brexit. Uh, oh.

More later!


Monday, December 5, 2016

Old laptop saved !

Well, nobody else wanted it, it’s been sat around at work lying on the floor for the last 6 months (and who knows how long before hand)


It’s an old Compaq contura 410 . It’s the height of sophistication - grey scale screen, 8MB ram, 210MB hard drive with dos 5.0 and windows 3.1 ! I believe the CPU might be a 486 and not even a pentium cpu. Had the power supply with it as well


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The all new server and the all new blog!

Ok. Truth be told I’ve stopped using the “old” server (a banana pi and soforth) as I felt I’d pretty much gone as far as I could with it. Don’t get me wrong it still works fine - it is just I wanted something which didn’t need about either half a dozen plugholes or just well …. don’t like trusting everything to one cheapo “wall-wart” style power supply.

So in the end I decided to completely rebuild the server. It is now an x86 machine running well …. this blog. No other files are here, I’m going to start again from fresh. Pretty much my file management stinks x.x .

If anyone was still wanting to see those dr who/red dwarf eps I can always put them back up. :-)

And I think I will be updating this blog more than I used to!