Computing History acquires a rare Acorn A680

The Centre for Computing History has acquired a rare Acorn A680 desktop computer.

The A680 Technical Publishing System was developed by Acorn for Olivetti in 1988. Although it runs RISC iX, it seems to have been the original development machine as it’s architecture differs from the Archimedes (e.g. there is no RISC OS component and the maximum RAM is 8MB).

This machine was built by Acorn in 1988 as one of the prototypes for a desktop publishing system to be sold by Olivetti. The system was never put into production so the remaining prototypes are very hard to find.

The A680 runs a variant of BSD 4.3 Unix called RISC iX : although the A680 was the first machine built to run RISC iX, it was used to develop versions later released on machines similar to the Archimedes series – the R140, R260 and R225. However, the A680 had substantially different (and more expensive) hardware than those machines with many built-in features that were options on the later models. It was therefore in use at Acorn long after the R140 was complete and didn’t become obsolete until spare R260s were available.

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