RISC OS has had its fair share of projects that have never come to light, perhaps more than its fair share. From the ill-fated RiscStation Laptop to the Cerilica Nucleus that never appeared, here’s my top five RISC OS projects that never came to be released.
1 – The Phoebe from Acorn Computers
You all knew it was coming (probably from the title!), the cancellation of the Phoebe or so-called RiscPC 2 was really a dagger in the heart for RISC OS users, overnight both Acorn Computers Ltd. and any hopes of a RiscPC successor had just vanished. Some would say it started the decline that RISC OS has seen since then, although my opinion is that it began a few years before that.
The Phoebe would have come shipped with the next version of the OS, early versions were shipped to developers in the form of RISC OS 3.80. The machine would have run on a 233MHz StrongARM SA110, featured 512MB SDRam and a new VIDC20. You can see full specifications for the Phoebe from Chris’ Acorns.
2 – The RiscStation Portable
The RiscStation Portable was meant to fill a long-standing need for RISC OS users, a laptop (or more specifically, notebook!) running RISC OS natively. This nifty piece of kit, running on a 64MHz ARM7500FE processor was meant to be the answer to many people’s prayers.
The machine was to be shipped to customers running RISC OS 4.02 and a 10GB Hard Disc at the end of April 2002. Many customers waited for two years for any sign of the RiscStation Portable, some had paid in full (around £1,500!). Finally, the RiscStation Portable was put to sleep and a Microsoft Windows laptop was released running Virtual Acorn in its place. You can read a preview of the system from The Icon Bar.
3 – The Oregano 3 web browser
4 – The RISC OS Solo
The RISC OS Solo computer from ExpLAN was intended mainly for use within third-world countries where its ultra-low-power design would have enabled it to be used indefinitely away from sources of mains electricity.
The ARM-7500 based device was to be released in the third quater of 2002 and priced at around the 500ukp mark. Sadly, negotiations broke down and the machine never materialised.
5 – Iron Dignity from Artex Software
From the makers of Ankh and TEK 1608, Iron Dignity was set to take both the RISC OS and Windows worlds by storm, boasting breathtaking graphics and speedy gameplay.
Sadly, both the RISC OS and Windows versions were never released and the project, much to many RISC OS users’ despair was eventually dropped.
If the game ever came to light, RISC OS machines would have struggled to run it at the time with at least a RiscPC equipped with an Imago board being required. A demo version was made available on the game’s official website, which is sadly no longer available.