Acornsoft

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Acornsoft
Type Privately held company
Industry Software industry
Founded 1980
Headquarters Cambridge, England
Key people David Johnson-Davies (managing director)
Products

Acornsoft was the software arm of Acorn Computers, and a major publisher of software for the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron. As well as games, they also produced a large number of educational titles, extra computer languages and business and utility packages - these included ROM-based word processor VIEW and the spreadsheet ViewSheet which Acorn supplied on ROM chips/cartridges for the BBC Micro/Acorn Electron and included as standard in the BBC Master and Acorn Business Computer.

While many of their games were clones or remakes of popular arcade games (e.g. Hopper is a clone of Sega's Frogger, Snapper is Namco's Pac-Man, Arcadians is Namco's Galaxian), they also published a number of original, innovative titles (such as Revs and Elite) that went on to spawn entire genres that live on to this day.

Acornsoft also published a number of text adventure games by authors such as Peter Killworth, including Philosopher's Quest and Countdown to Doom, that remain highly regarded within the interactive fiction community.

Although Acorn continued releasing office software in the VIEW family under the Acornsoft name for the BBC Master series, Superior Software obtained some publication rights for some of the Acornsoft games in 1986. Several Acornsoft games were re-released by Superior, often as part of compilations such as the Play It Again Sam and Acornsoft Hits series. By agreement, the Acornsoft brand was also used on the packaging of some of the subsequent Superior games. Superior chose not to take on Acornsoft's text adventure games, most of which were released in updated versions by Topologika along with some sequels from the same authors.

Branding[edit]

Loading screen for LISP

Acornsoft titles extended their consistent branding to the software's loading screens.

Select titles[edit]

Acornsoft Games range[edit]

Including all arcade, text adventure and board games. All games were compatible with the BBC Micro Model B. Games followed by Model A & B were compatible with both machines. Games followed by Electron were also released separately for the Acorn Electron. Games are listed by their catalogue numbers which are roughly the order of release of the BBC versions.

  • G01 Philosopher's Quest (BBC 1982, Electron 1984)
  • G02 Defender (BBC 1982) deleted for legal reasons and later re-released as Planetoid
  • G02 Aviator (BBC 1983) released with G26-G28 but re-used the deleted Defender's number
  • G03 Monsters (BBC 1982, Electron 1983)
  • G04 Snapper (BBC 1982, Electron 1983)
  • G05 Rocket Raid (BBC 1982)
  • G06 Arcade Action (BBC Model A & B 1982) 4 games: Invaders, Breakout, Dodgems and Snake
  • G07 Sphinx Adventure (BBC 1982, Electron 1984)
  • G08 Cube Master (BBC 1982)
  • G09 JCB Digger (BBC 1983)
  • G10 Chess (BBC 1982, Electron 1983)
  • G11 Maze (BBC 1982, Electron 1984)
  • G12 Sliding-Block Puzzles (BBC 1982)
  • G13 Meteors (BBC 1982, Electron 1983)
  • G14 Arcadians (BBC 1982, Electron 1984)
  • G15 Planetoid (BBC 1982, Electron 1984)
  • G16 Super Invaders (BBC 1982)
  • G17 Castle of Riddles (BBC 1982, Electron 1984)
  • G18 Missile Base (BBC 1982)
  • G19 Countdown to Doom (BBC 1982, Electron ROM Cartridge 1984)
  • G20 Draughts & Reversi (BBC Model A & B 1983, Electron 1983)
  • G21 Snooker (BBC 1983, Electron 1984)
  • G22 Starship Command (BBC 1983, Electron 1983)
  • G23 Hopper (BBC 1983, Electron 1984)
  • G24 Carousel (BBC 1983)
  • G25 Kingdom of Hamil (BBC 1983)
  • G26 Crazy Tracer (BBC 1983, Electron 1984)
  • G27 Drogna (BBC 1983)
  • G28 Free Fall (BBC 1983, Electron 1984)
  • G29 Meteor Mission (BBC 1984)
  • G30 Gateway to Karos (BBC 1983)
  • G31 Boxer (BBC 1984, Electron 1984)
  • G32 Tetrapod (BBC 1984)
  • G33 Volcano (BBC 1984)
  • G34 Black Box & Gambit (BBC 1984)
  • G35 Bouncer (BBC 1984)
  • G36 The Seventh Star (BBC 1984)
  • G37 Acheton (BBC 1984)
  • G38 Elite (BBC 1984, Electron 1984)
  • G39 Firebug (BBC 1984, Electron 1984)
  • G40 Quondam (BBC 1984)
  • G41 Labyrinth (BBC 1984)
  • G42 Go (BBC 1984, Electron 1984)
  • G43 Revs (BBC 1984)
  • G44 Revs 4 Tracks (BBC 1985) extra tracks for the main game
  • G45 Elite original BBC Micro 6502 Second Processor version[1]
  • G46 Magic Mushrooms (BBC 1985, Electron 1985)
  • G47 Elite enhanced (BBC 1986) incl. 6502 Second Processor and Master 128 versions[2]

There are also a number of completed but unreleased games that have found their way into the public domain such as Crazy Balloon, Hellforce and Bandit that date from around 1983.

Acornsoft Education range[edit]

Acornsoft produced a wide range of educational titles aimed at many different age groups.

  • E01 Algebraic Manipulation (BBC Model A & B 198?)
  • E02 Peeko-Computer (BBC Model A & B 198?, Electron 1984)
  • E03 Business Games (BBC Model A & B 198?, Electron 1984) 2 games: Stokmark and Telemark
  • E04 Tree of Knowledge (BBC 198?, Electron 1983)
  • E05 Word Hunt (BBC 198?, Electron 1984)
  • E06 Word Sequencing (BBC Model A & B 198?, Electron 1984)
  • E07 Sentence Sequencing (BBC 198?, Electron 1984)
  • E08 Number Balance (BBC 198?, Electron 1984)
  • E09 Missing Signs (BBC Model A & B 198?, Electron 1984)
  • E?? Speed and Light (BBC 198?)
  • E?? Density and Circuit (BBC 198?)
  • E12 Chemical Analysis (BBC 198?)
  • E13 Chemical Simulations (BBC 198?)
  • E14 Chemical Structures (BBC 198?)
  • E15 Jars (BBC 198?)
  • E16 Temperature Control Simulation (BBC 198?)
  • E17 The Examiner (BBC 198?)
  • E18 Spooky Manor (BBC 198?)
  • E19
  • E20
  • E21
  • E22 Talkback (BBC 198?, Electron 1984)
  • E23 Workshop (BBC 198?, Electron 1984)
  • E24 ABC (BBC 198?)

Acornsoft also published and distributed a range of educational software developed by ASK (Applied Systems Knowledge) that were widely used in schools running BBC Micros. These included Podd (find out which actions a red blobby character can perform (e.g. jump, smile, dance), Squeeze (a two player strategy game of squeezing shapes onto a board) and Cranky (solve maths problems to repair a living calculator). These titles were part of the Acornsoft catalogue but used a different code (XBE?? - all other Acornsoft titles began with S so the Education range on BBC Micro cassettes would be SBE??). They ran on both the BBC Micro Model B and Acorn Electron.

The Ivan Berg Software range was also mainly educational but had its own distinct code (XBX??). This included the 6 Grandmaster Quizzes (Theatre, Crime & Detection, Music, History, Science Fiction and Royal), relationship aids "..I Do" Your Guide to a Happy Marriage and The Dating Game and GCE/CSE revision guides (Mathematics, Biology and English).

Acornsoft also distributed other ranges of educational programs developed by companies such as ICL, Good Housekeeping and Bourne but they are not considered part of the official catalogue.

Acornsoft Business range[edit]

Acornsoft produced a range of office software for home and business use.

  • B01 Desk Diary (BBC 198?, Electron 1984)
  • B02 Forecast (BBC 198?)
  • B03 VIEW (BBC 198?, Electron ROM cartridge 1984)
  • B04 VIEW Printer Drivers (BBC 198?)
  • B05 Personal Money Management (BBC 198?, Electron 1983)
  • B06 Database (BBC 1983, Electron 1984)
  • B07 ViewSheet (BBC 1984, Electron ROM cartridge 1984)
  • B08 Invoicing (BBC 1984)
  • B09 Mailing (BBC 1984)
  • B10 Accounts Receivable (BBC 1984)
  • B11 Stock Control (BBC 1984)
  • B12 Order Processing (BBC 1984)
  • B13 Accounts Payable (BBC 1984)
  • B14 Purchasing (BBC 1984)
  • B15 Hi-View (BBC 19??)

The series continues but mainly with add-on products for the VIEW word processor such as ViewIndex (an automatic index generator) and ViewSpell (spell-checker) as well as newer versions.

Acornsoft Languages range[edit]

Acorn systems came with a version of the BBC BASIC programming language as standard but Acornsoft also produced a wide range of other languages that could be loaded in by cassette or disc or in some cases, supplied in ROM form.

  • L01 FORTH (BBC 1982, Electron 1983)
  • L02 LISP (BBC 1982, Electron 1983, Electron ROM cartridge 1984)
  • L03 BCPL (BBC 1983)
  • L04 Microtext (BBC 1983)
  • L05 6502 Development System (BBC 1985)
  • L06 Logo (BBC 1983, Electron ROM cartridge 1985)
  • L07 Turtle Graphics (BBC 1983, Electron 1984)
  • L08 S-Pascal (BBC 1983, Electron 1984)
  • L09 LISP Demonstrations (BBC 1984)
  • L10 BCPL Calculations Package (BBC 198?)
  • L11
  • L12 BCPL Stand Alone Generator (BBC 198?)
  • L13 FORTH - ROM version (BBC 198?)
  • L14 LISP - ROM version (BBC 198?)
  • L15
  • L16
  • L17 PROLOG Micro (BBC 1985)
  • L18 ISO-Pascal (BBC 198?, Electron ROM cartridge 1985)
  • L19 COMAL (BBC 198?)
  • L20
  • L21
  • L22 BASIC Editor (BBC 1985)
  • L23 Termulator (BBC 198?)

Acornsoft Graphics range and more[edit]

The graphics range was used to demonstrate the graphical power of the Acorn computers but only 3 titles were made available. The X?? code was then used for other types of software.

  • X01 Creative Graphics (BBC 198?, Electron 1983)
  • X02 Graphs & Charts (BBC 198?, Electron 1983)
  • X03 Picture Maker (BBC 1983, Electron 1984)
  • X04 Shirley Conran's Magic Garden (BBC 1983)
  • X05 Collector's Catalogue (BBC 198?)
  • X06 Membership Manager (BBC 198?)
  • X07 One To Nine (BBC 198?)
  • X08 Hooked On Numbers (BBC 1983)
  • X09
  • X10 Complete Cocktail Maker (BBC 198?, Electron 1984)
  • X11 Paul Daniels' Magic Show (BBC 198?, Electron 1984)
  • X12 100 Programs For The BBC Micro (BBC 198?)
  • X13 Linkword French (BBC 1984)
  • X14 Linkword Italian (BBC 1984)
  • X15 Linkword Spanish (BBC 1984)
  • X16 Linkword German (BBC 1984)
  • X17 Watch Your Weight (BBC 198?, Electron 1984)
  • X18 Me & My Micro (Electron 1984)

The range took on various themes including Creative Sound (X26).

References[edit]

External links[edit]