Acorn World in Retro-Land
by Jim Nagel

Two new games and a new version of a BBC emulator are being showcased at the Acorn World show in Yorkshire on September 12-13, despite its being part of a retro event.

Resurrecting the Acorn World name was a last-minute inspiration, said Dave Moore, the enthusiastic man behind it. “Hey, a lot of Acorn people are coming; let’s call it that!” He hired the adjacent hall at the hotel where Retro Reunited (retroreunited.info) was already booked and with the help of a few friends covered the cost of upgrading the hall’s meagre power supply.

“Bringing classic games back to the future” is Retro Reunited’s slogan. Events like this sometimes bring 3,000 people. They are not commercial but rather for enthusiasts, and the age range is a complete mix from about 14.

“Many people behind the organization of this are writing new games for old 8-bit machines – and also for RISC OS,” Dave said. Most of their testing is on A3000s and the like. “Pretty much all of them have used RISC OS and have written music demos and games for RISC OS in the past.”

New Release
The Krystal Connection is one of the new-old games to be launched at Acorn World. Stephen Smith wrote this platform game 25 years ago for Melbourne House, which never released it though it was 95% complete. Out of the blue, Stephen sent it from Australia. Despite the lack of source code, Tom Walker (author of RPCemu) and team managed to patch the machine code to finish it.

It will be for sale online after the show through Retro Software (www.retrosoftware.co.uk) – whose logo is a tribute to good ol’ Superior Software. The not-for-profit label’s first release, last May, was Zap!, a classic shoot-em-up for the BBC Micro never released by Superior; Jamie Woodhouse finished it for Retro. Coming soon is Mountain Panic, an altogether new arcade adventure for the Beeb by Dave Footitt. Retro Software prices are between £1.50 and £5 .

The Wakefield and London user groups and RISC OS Open have taken stands at Acorn World to bring up-to-date RISC OS to the attention of the retro attendees. ROOL is scheduled to give a theatre talk about how the operating system has developed.

Among the Attractions
• Professor Steve Furber gives a talk on the heritage of the BBC Micro (Sunday afternoon). He was one of Acorn’s principal designers of the Beeb and of the Arm processor.

• Mark Hayman (retroclinic.com) designs USB interfaces for the BBC Micro – “a fantastically talented guy giving really professional service to BBCs,” said Dave. “He buys in old machines, rebuilds, cleans each key, tests, then puts a Compact Flash interface into it like a harddrive. He can’t get enough old BBCs. He lists one at £120 on Ebay and it’s immediately gone. He brings a lot more users back into the BBC fold.”

• Original peripherals for the BBC Micro: the Hybrid 5000 music system, the Arm evaluation system, the R260 and the Domesday system.

• Econet Island is “a complete Econet nerd-out” linking a mixture of more than 30 machines of all types and eras using Acorn’s pioneering low-cost network system. Users from anywhere on the internet might even be able to log in during the show.

• Robots controlled by an Iyonix and a BBC Master. Beebcontrol, headed by Neil Fazakerley, specializes in any electromechanical gadget than an Acorn computer can interact with.

• A hacked version of BeebEm will be released, adding AUN (Acorn Universal Networking) support for the Linux and Windows emulators of the BBC Micro.

• The Ringworld bulletin-board system will come out of retirement. Rob O’Donnell has added new content to that from 20 years ago.

• Acorn Atoms fitted with flash memory by Charlie Robson, and a clone of the Atom by Phill Harvey-Smith.

• Robert Sprowson’s dozens of BBC add-ons and accessories, such as an ethernet upgrade and Arm7 coprocessor.

• Talks by several authors of games: Jamie Woodhouse (Qwak and Zap!), Kenton Price (Ripton, Starquake), Matthew Atkinson (Repton 3).

Next Door, Lots More
The adjacent hall, four times the size of Acorn World’s, will be full of every other format under the sun, including Nintendo, Sega, Spectrum, Amstrad, Amibay (the big Amiga community also has RISC OS-like arguments over its operating system) and Atari.

The Homebrew Coding Association will hold its second gathering during the weekend – independent programmers from across the UK interested in developing new software for commercially obsolete systems. The workshop is open to all showgoers.

“There are so many extraordinary hardware designers and software programmers all doing their own thing in isolation,” said Dave Moore. “How beneficial it can be when you put the great minds together.” That’s his main motivation in helping organize the show.

For the past 10 years Dave has run a couple of archive sites, preserving old tapes and discs: www.acornpreservation.org and www.stairwaytohell.com. He isn’t a current RISC OS user but has Archimedes and RiscPCs to bring to shows. He lives in Leicester and as a day job trains people at Rolls-Royce to use their in-house software.

Venue and Tickets
The venue is the Cedar Court Hotel at Huddersfield, at M62 junction 24 – just around the corner, in motorway terms, from the sister hotel that hosts the Wakefield RISC OS show in spring.

Tickets at £13 each cover both Acorn World and Retro Reunited for both the Saturday (11am to 11pm) and Sunday (11am to 5pm) and can be bought online: www.acornworld.co.uk. Any profits from the show will go to the Shelter charity.

Call for a Report
Any Archive member who’d be interested in attending the show and writing up some aspect of it as an article for the magazine, please contact me. —Ed.

Home Magazine Search Files Booklets URLs Forum
Prices Offer Products Addresses Glossary Contact
If you are viewing just a single page, please click restart to rebuild the frame structure
© Abbey Press Glastonbury, 2009