Acorn Communicator

The Communicator is a bit of an anomaly as it is possibly the only genuine 16 bit computer Acorn made. It seems to have been designed as an intelligent terminal for use with Prestel and other early electronic mail/Bulletin board type systems. Details of the Communicator are hard to come by, I have searched both the web and usenet groups with Google and found some contradictory statements.

The Acorn entry in Wikipedia says it was produced in 1982, others state it was designed in 1988 (after the launch of the Archimedes). It is thought that the correct date is 1986.

Again the Acorn entry in Wikipedia says it was never sold commercially, but there is definitive evidence that it was used by Pickfords Travel, including an FCO. I think that it was not sold to the general public, and it doesn't appear in the Acorn price lists of the time, but was sold to buiness customer(s).

There are statements that it was an modified Electron, but the architecture is very different including the use of a 16 bit CPU.

There are statements that the Master Compact reused the case because the Communicator didn't sell. I have checked the case and they clearly are not the same. There are different colour plastic, different ports and a different keyboard layout, in fact, there is little similarity apart from the ridging along the back and the expansion slot on the right hand side.

The Communicator has a GTE G65SC816P-2 CPU which is a 16bit version of the 6502 and has a segmented memory. The 65816 was also used in the Apple IIGS. The Communicator is reported to use the Electron ULA (BTW this must date it to 1985 or later when Ferranti was finally able to ship it in volume) but does not contain a Ferranti ULA, instead there is a Mietec IC with an Acorn part no. 0252,602, is this also a ULA? 

The Communicator has 512K of RAM expandable to 1024K, 32K CMOS RAM and 256K ROM. The applications included in ROM were, View, Viewsheet, Comms and Terminal Emulation.

There is no disc storage internally and no interface for external storage. The only filing system interface is Econet and that needs a standard Econet module (as used on BBC Master). It has an integral, BABT approved, modem. The ports are Display Output, Printer Output, Serial (uses a Telephone type connector) and on-board modem.

Our machine was was very kindly donated by Chris Curry

Manufacturer: Acorn
Date: 1986

Acorn Communicator Manuals:

Item Manufacturer Date
Psion OPL Programming Manual Psion 1984

Other Systems Related To Acorn Communicator:

Item Manufacturer Date
Acorn BBC Micro Model A (Issue 2 Board) Acorn Computers Ltd Unknown
Acorn AEH02 Archimedes NSM Acorn Computers Ltd Unknown
Busicomputers Prophet 3 Acorn Computers Ltd Unknown
Acorn 6502 Microcomputer Board Acorn Computers Ltd 1979
Acorn System 1 Acorn Computers March 1979
Acorn System 3 Acorn 1980
Acorn Atom Acorn 1980
Black Acorn Atom Acorn January 1980
Acorn BBC Micro Model A - Issue 1 Acorn 1981
Acorn BBC Micro Model A Acorn 1st December 1981
Acorn BBC Micro Model B Acorn 2nd December 1981
German BBC Micro (GNB09) Acorn 1982
Acorn Business Computer (ABC) Acorn 1983
Acorn Cambridge Workstation Acorn 1983
Busicomputers Prophet 2 Acorn 1983
Acorn Electron Acorn July 1983
Acorn Electron (German) Acorn July 1983
Acorn Electron with Turbo Board Acorn July 1983
BBC Micro B+ 128K + 48K ROM Acorn 1984
US BBC Micro (UNB09) Acorn October 1984
Acorn BBC Micro Model B+ (64K) Acorn July 1985
Acorn BBC Master 512 Acorn 1986
Acorn BBC Master 128 Acorn 1986
Acorn BBC Domesday System Acorn Computers Limited 1986
Acorn Econet Terminal Acorn Computers Ltd 1986
Acorn - BT Merlin M2105 Acorn Computers / British Telecom 13th May 1986
Acorn BBC Master Compact Acorn September 1986
Acorn Archimedes 310 Acorn 1987
Acorn Archimedes 305 Acorn 1987
Acorn A680 Acorn 1988
Acorn Archimedes A500 Acorn 1988
Acorn Archimedes A500 Acorn 1988
Acorn A3000 Acorn 1989
Acorn R140 Acorn June 1989
Acorn Archimedes A440 Acorn July 1989
Acorn R260 Acorn 1990
Acorn Archimedes A5000 ALB12 Acorn 1991
Acorn A5000 ALB53 Acorn 1991
Acorn A5000 ALB22 Acorn 1991
Acorn A4 Laptop Acorn 1992
Acorn A3020 Acorn January 1992
Acorn A4 WLP-530N7 Acorn Rev. B Acorn June 1992
Acorn A3010 Acorn September 1992
Acorn A4000 Acorn September 1992
Acorn Risc PC 600 Acorn January 1994
Acorn Risc PC 600 ACB25 Acorn April 1994
Acorn Risc PC 600 ACB45 Acorn April 1994
Acorn A7000 Acorn 1995
Acorn RISC PC 600 - Prototype Acorn 1995
Acorn A7000+ Acorn 1995
Acorn SchoolServer Acorn Ltd 1995
Acorn Risc PC 600 ACB60 Acorn July 1995
Acorn RISC PC700 System Acorn July 1995
Acorn Xemplar Matrix NC Acorn 1996
Acorn StrongARM RiscPC Acorn 1996
Acorn Stork Notebook Acorn Computers Ltd 1996
Acorn Fast NC - Serial Number 1 Acorn Computers Ltd 1997
Acorn Phoebe Acorn 1998
Acorn DeskLite Prototype Acorn June 1998

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH33413. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

 

Acorn Communicator


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