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The Acorn Communicator is a discontinued business computer developed by Acorn Computers in 1985. The system sold in very low numbers to companies requiring a computer with a built-in modem. As a dedicated Prestel terminal with built-in word processing and spreadsheet capabilities, the Communicator found a niche market amongst travel agents in the United Kingdom and Italy, who used Prestel (and similar networks) as probably the earliest online booking service.

Acorn Communicator
ManufacturerAcorn Computers
TypeBusiness Computer
Release date1985; 34 years ago (1985)
CPU65816 @ 2 MHz
Memory512–1024 KB RAM
256 KB ROM


The machine is reported to use the Ferranti-manufactured "Aberdeen" gate array developed for the Electron, which was the largest ULA ever developed at that time. However The Centre for Computing History has noted that one in their possession does not contain a Ferranti ULA. They noted that instead there is a Mietec IC with an Acorn part no. of 0252,602, which could possibly be a ULA.[1]

The system used a 16-bit Western Design Center 65816 chip rather than the 8-bit MOS Technology 6502, which was used by all of Acorn's previous offerings. The communicator boasted 512 KB of memory, which was expandable to 1024 KB. It contained no built-in storage mechanism (such as a disk drive) nor a connector for an external storage mechanism. The only way to read and write files was via Econet, and this required a standard Econet module to be installed.[2]

The Communicator contained a full office software suite, including View software (word processor), ViewSheet (spreadsheet), and a fully featured Prestel terminal, plus (of course) Econet and many of the interfaces found on the BBC series of computers. The system software that bound the packages together was a mixture of BBC Basic and assembly language. The software development team was led by Paul Bond, a keen pilot who would occasionally fly team members in his Cessna when things were quiet.

First versions of the Communicator were monochrome-only; later (but before first customer delivery), a daughterboard provided full colour.


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