But beyond the headlines of silicon-based power struggles and overpriced electronics, the UK had another big hitter in the computer industry. Acorn Computers Ltd produced several computers, notably the BBC Micro, whose graphics were featured in episodes of Doctor Who in the 1980s, and developed its own operating system.
First released in 1987, Archimedes computers with an operating system RISC OS (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) and later the Acorn A7000 computers would dominate schools and colleges across the UK until the mid-1990s and Windows 95. But it’s still available today and you can install it on your Raspberry Pi.
Installing RISC OS
The main reason why RISC OS still exists is because of ARM, with which it is inextricably linked. The original name of Arm Holdings was Advanced RISC Machines.
With an ARM-based processor in the Raspberry Pi, there is a certain poetry to installing a RISC OS! And RISC OS can run on all Raspberry Pi models.
You have two options here. The first is to install RISC OS using the NOOBS installation tool. You will find RISC OS as one of the options, so just check the box and click install. The operating system will be installed on your microSD card, and once it’s complete, you can safely remove the microSD from your PC, insert it into your Raspberry Pi, and boot into RISC OS.
Or use the RISC OS download for SD cards. After downloading the ZIP file, extract it and write it to your SD card.
Whichever option you choose, you’ll also need a monitor, keyboard, and three-button mouse. A mouse with a click-activated scroll wheel is enough here — the middle button opens a menu in the RISC OS.
Explore RISC OS
Have you used RISC OS before? If so, when the OS boots up (which usually happens very quickly), a lot of what you see will be familiar. The desktop is pretty basic, but different enough from Linux, Windows, or macOS to be a little tricky at first.
Instead of launching like a Start menu or dock, RISC OS organizes applications into folders. Applications can be identified by prefix ! which in RISC OS terms is known as pling .