The upgrade to the A300/400/500 series

Published , updated by Richard GoodwinFiled under Computers

The A5000 was essentially an upgrade to the aging A300/400/500 range; originally it came with RISC OS 3.00 on EPROM, but this was so bug-ridden 3.10 and 3.11 soon followed. It also had an ARM 3 and high density floppies as standard, and most if not all came with small IDE hard drives.

I didn't have one of these myself at the time - I went from a second hand A310 to a RiscPC (also second hand, but slightly less decrepit) - but we did have some at college.  This second hand unit probably came from a college or school somewhere, as you can just see the yellow security paint on the keyboard.

The monitors could cope with both the original low-resolution modes available to me on my A310, plus the new high-resolution modes with proper square pixels and everything. Most monitors can only do hi-res, and the lo-res was really a bit of a hack to get fairly good resolution on a machine with low memory and a TV as a display (as per the BBC B and Electron), but as most games still used the lo-res modes this dual-purpose monitor was quite handy - so long as it didn't overheat.

I thought I'd blown one up when I set up a machine for a demo at the college, only to find I'd accidentally knocked the brightness down to zero when I'd been carrying it. Ever since I've always checked the settings on hardware before deciding it's broken - who says you don't learn anything at college?

This particular machine is fairly stripped bare - you can see the hard drive (40MB), floppy drive and internal speaker at the bottom of the picture, and the four RISC OS chips on the right. I think the memory is just under the speaker. It certainly seems a lot simpler than the A310 internals.

The four slot backplane is empty here, although it is usually fitted with a network card - the 40MB hard drive and 4MB memory is just about enough to handle a boot sequence, a network stack and a simple browser for reading the news on.

There was some, erm, surprise when I mentioned on a public forum that I had an A5000 in the loo so that I could read the news -I don't bother to buy a newspaper, although a Palm V hand-held device became a much more convenient alternative to take into the smallest room in the house...