Acorn World 2009 Banner

Acorn World @ The Vintage Computer Festival, Bletchley Park

Acorn World 2010 formed part of the Vintage Computer Festival at Bletchley Park on 19-20 June 2010.


The Drawing Room OMD Sophie Wilson Bletchley Park Mansion

Acorn World 2009 has come and gone - thanks for your support!

We would like to thank all of the guests, exhibitors and visitors who attended Acorn World & Retro Reunited and helped to make the weekend such a success.

We are extremely grateful to the friendly staff at Cedar Court Huddersfield and are also indebted to Darren Doyle and Dave Jeffery for providing artwork for display at the show.

  Click to view 'tagged' photo on Flickr

Click to enlarge (photo by Phil Mellor) Click to enlarge (photo by Joel Rowbottom) Click to enlarge (photo by Joel Rowbottom) Click to enlarge (photo by Vinny Patel)
The Emley Suite (from left) Robotic Arms Steve Furber talk The Emley Suite (from right)
Joel Rowbottom
David Glover
Andy Taylor
David Glover
Darran Jones (Emley Suite)
Darran Jones (Lobby)
Blogs / Reports
The Icon Bar
Joel Rowbottom
Centre/Computing History
Forum Threads
Stairway To Hell


A little under thirty years ago saw the launch of a seemingly unassuming computer: the Atom.

The company behind it - Acorn Computers - went on to become a household name after the machine being developed as a successor to the Atom (which had the working title of The Proton) was adopted by the British Broadcasting Corporation as the system that would be used to promote the joint BBC / Department of Industry-backed Computer Literacy Project. Over the years that followed, Acorn drew some of the UK's most talented computer and software engineers to its Cambridge base.

Acorn World is an exhibition and gathering at the Cedar Court Hotel - Huddersfield on 12th-13th September 2009 that will celebrate the importance and legacy of this uniquely British company.

Over the course of the weekend, the Emley Suite at Cedar Court will be populated with numerous examples of Acorn computers, charting the company's rise from the less well-known Acorn System series and Acorn Atom; through the various iterations of the BBC Microcomputer and the Electron to the ground-breaking Archimedes and RISC PC range; both of which were developed to take full advantage of Acorn's now-ubiquitous ARM technology, which is estimated to be prevalent in 90% of mobile and embedded devices currently available.

On Sunday afternoon Professor Stephen Furber - a principal designer of both the BBC Microcomputer and ARM microprocessor - will give a talk on The Heritage of the BBC Micro. Topics covered will include construction of the prototype BBC machine and the design and manufacture of the ARM microchip.

Stephen will also give an insight into his current research interests, such as the SpiNNaker project: a bold attempt to emulate the interactions of the human brain, utilising an estimated one million ARM processors. This will be preceded by a presentation and demonstration from RISC OS Open Ltd - a group of volunteers who continue to make improvements to the RISC OS Operating System; originally written by Acorn for use with the Archimedes series.

This event forms part of the Retro Reunited Classic Gaming & Computing convention and weekend tickets (priced £13.00 each inclusive) cover entry to both Acorn World (Emley Suite) and Retro Reunited (Presidential Suite). All proceeds will be donated to the Shelter charity and it is anticipated that tickets will sell out in advance.

For further information or for press enquiries, please contact dave.moore@acornworld.co.uk.

Picture of John Coll & Ian McNaught-Davis with BBC Micro in shot

Making the Most of
the Micro, BBC TV

Photograph of Acorn co-founders Hermann Hauser and Chris Curry

Acorn co-founders:
Hermann Hauser
& Chris Curry

Acorn RISC PC featuring ARM Technology

Promo photo of an


The installations on display will be augmented by many original peripherals, including the Hybrid 5000 music development system, as well as several rare/prototype systems such as the ARM Evaluation System and the R260 in addition to [the casing for] the Phoebe 2100: the proposed successor to the RISC PC which never saw a general release.

One such fully-working piece that will be on display and deserves a special mention is the BBC Domesday System. This visionary project inspired by William the Conqueror's historic 1086 Domesday survey and devised by the BBC, was the culmination of several years' data collection from UK school and charity groups, and comprises of - what was then - cutting edge laserdisc technology accessed through an upgraded BBC Micro Master Series computer. The final result was a system that could search a wealth of UK data which foreshadows many similar web applications popular today, such as Google Maps.

Amongst the many features now available as standard in modern computers that Acorn were amongst the first to pioneer, were Local Area Networks. Acorn's first home microcomputer, the Atom, was launched with a demonstration of Acorn's Econet networking technology. Acorn World will see the implementation of one of the most remarkable Econet networks ever built. As well as networking the standard Acorn machines, recent custom work by hobbyists should allow the Econet network to link up modern computers, even ones running BBC Micro emulators! If that wasn't ambitious enough, a Viewdata-based Bulletin Board System will be run from the event, with the intention that anyone with a Windows or Linux PC and internet connection can download free emulator software that will enable them to dial-in to the BBS and interact with visitors.

The BBC Micro Model B was fitted with a number of expansion sockets as standard, and this gained the BBC B the reputation of being the most versatile home micro available at the time. The User Port was one such expansion socket and this instantly opened up the world of Robotics to home users, schools and industry. The most visually spectacular attraction at Acorn World 2009 promises to be the BeebControl exhibit, where Neil Fazakerley will demonstrate a number of Robotic Arms (including the Cyber 310, the Atlas and the gargantuan, hydraulically-driven Feedback HRA933) which are controlled by both BBC Micro and RISC OS Iyonix machines. The infamous BBC Buggy will also be given a runout at some point during the weekend.

As well as examples of original Acorn hardware, there will be several designers on-hand who have continued to create modern hardware upgrades for the machines, including larger capacity, physically smaller and faster storage devices, new second processor upgrades and many others, such as the USB interface for 8-bit machines provided by DataCentre and the 8580 SID Audio add-on. Several computers with fitted upgrades will be on display and, in many cases, available for purchase at discounted prices.

The BBC Domesday System and an MDFS File Server

BBC Domesday
System & MDFS

The Cyber 310: Robotic Arm controlled by a BBC Micro

Cyber 310:
Robotic Arm

DataCentre: USB connectivity on a BBC Micro

DataCentre: USB
on the BBC Micro!

Gaming & Programming

Most pupils at school in the 1980s will remember the classic games Chuckie Egg, Frak, Granny's Garden and the legendary Elite, many of which will be available to play at Acorn World with the benefit of lightningly fast loading times courtesy of the advances in modern memory card technology.

The event will also see a presence from Retro Software; the Acorn-focused publishing label that recently launched Zap! - the first commercially-released BBC Micro game in years.

Their second title - The Krystal Connection - will be launched at Acorn World and attendees will have the opportunity to purchase copies at discounted prices.

They will also provide Work-In-Progress demonstrations of upcoming titles such as Bomber Blaster for RISC OS and Archimedes machines as well as Arcade Adventure Design Kit, White Light, Mountain Panic and Repton: The Lost Realms for the BBC/Electron.

The venue will also stage the second meet-up of the Homebrew Coding Association - a gathering of independent programmers from across the UK who share an interest in developing new software for commercially-obsolete computer systems such as the BBC Micro, Sinclair Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64/Amiga and Atari ST. Anybody with a ticket for Acorn World/Retro Reunited is welcome to attend the coding workshop.


New BBC Micro titles from Retro Software

Click here to view a High Resolution version of the floor plan

Event supported by

Funded by netNORTH