Acorn Communicator

The Acorn Communicator is a 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.

The machine used the Ferranti-manufactured "Aberdeen" gate array developed for the Electron, which was the largest ULA ever developed at that time.

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.

The Communicator contained a full office software suite, including View (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 assembler. 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.