Acorn BBC Master Compact Prototype
The Master Compact was launched in September 1986. It is quite different from the rest of the Master series having a 2 box design (3 if you count the monitor) like a modern PC. However, what appears to be the system unit is, in reality, only the disc drive/monitor stand, while the motherboard is under the keyboard. The disc unit only contains a 3.5" drive and power supply.
Like the Acorn Electron Plus 3, the Master Compact has a 3.5" disc drive and ADFS as standard, with room for a second 3.5" drive in the disc unit. Unlike the rest of the Master series, the Master Compact does not have cartridge slots. Only the operating system, BASIC IV and ADFS are in ROM. Instead software like View was on the Welcome Disc disc. The Master Compact cost £451.25 (inc VAT).
Only the ADFS file system could be used, preventing backward compatibility with DFS disks (though it was possible to load a 1770 DFS ROM into sideways RAM, or to insert a ROM or EPROM containing it). The Master Compact also utilised a limited re-burn EEPROM, instead of the battery backed CMOS memory found in the other models.
The unit under the monitor housed a 3.5 inch floppy disk drive and the system power supply. The remainder of the system was housed in the same unit as the keyboard, much like a conventional Master 128. The cartridge and cassette ports were removed as a space saving measure. The loss of the latter was a move Acorn later came to regret. Software for the Compact became very expensive (typically £20 for a game) due to the small user base.
The Compact included a copy of Acorn's first public GUI interface. No commercial software or utilities, others than those included on the Welcome disk were ever made available for the system.
This unit was Mark Jenkin's one for field testing.
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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH49512. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.
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