Back in the day, the Acorn RiscPC was a very desirable piece of kit. It came, of course, with Risc OS in ROM, and even the basic 33MHz ARM6 model would easily pace the brand new Pentium PCs, so long as floating point performance wasn't an issue. Acorn managed to strike a distribution deal with certain high-street retail chains, which should have seen A3010s along with the new flagship RiscPC sold alongside the PCs and Macs of the day. Alas, this deal never seemed to be implemented fully. So, despite the arguably superior technology (a multiprocessor bus architecture in every machine! Up to 256 Mb RAM, if you could afford that much at 1994 prices), the machine was a marketplace flop.

Certain parties were just angry enough about this sort of mistreatment to put pen to paper about it, not to mention sad enough to mail it in to Acorn User magazine. Nonetheless, several people thought it was pretty funny, so here we go...

Please, Mister Salesperson, Sell Me A RiscPC

In an electrical store, which shall remain nameless
(Suffice it to say that they're utterly shameless,
and the sales staff have heads which are empty and roomy,
but I can't say their names in case they might sue me).
I watched the computers being put through their stuff
and couldn't help thinking they all looked quite duff.

A Compaq was nursing its faulty hard disc,
and a Packard showed off all the strong-points of CISC
by running a flight sim, a frame every second,
but at that very instant the Manager beckoned
me over to look at his wonderful bargains
and try to confuse me with technical jargon.

"This one's equipped with a Pentium chip,
that's fifty-odd mega-hertz, sixty-four bits.
Power beyond all your craziest dreams,
PCs are great, they're fantastic machines!
Sometimes, of course, they can go slightly funny,
but you know what they say: You pays your money..."

I then made a joke about taking a RISC,
And he said "Well, in that case, come here, look at this!
It's the latest machine from those Macintosh-makers,
Those brave pioneers, those amazing ground-breakers!
The technology's new, and so is the name."
(But despite all the changes it still smelled the same)

Feeling the strain of this tiresome waffle,
I wanted to see something not quite so awful.
What I was seeking I hadn't seen yet,
And, furthermore, I was willing to bet,
That this manager's actual knowledge was scant,
He left me no options: I started to rant...

"Have you got a machine with a nuttier flavour,
A British computer with a built-in screen-saver
and all sorts of widgits, and plenty of speed,
which comes with a proper 3-pin-plug and lead,
and doesn't need too much of my hard worked-for cash
and a casing which won't get a dent or a bash?"

"A machine with a friendly and pretty UI,
and programs robust so they don't ever die.
A desktop with textures and creamy-beige icons,
and hundreds of easily-fittable add-ons.
Graphics and sound which are really sensational
and applications which are educational?"

"Something to use both at home and at work,
And with something to kill any viri which lurk."
The manager's lip drooped under his chin,
but before he could speak I butted back in:
"And don't talk all this Industry-Standardised dross,
I want a machine which doesn't run DOS!!!"

"Power Mac runs under CISC emulation,
and Pentium's plagued with its heat dissipation.
Your prices are huge for the goods that you get,
and the thing that I seek you've not shown to me yet.
Excuse me for shouting and venting my spleen,
But I need something prettier, smaller and green."

The manager sighed, and rubbed at his eyes,
consulted his book (upon which he relies
to provide him with prices and figures and facts
and back him up when his own knowledge lacks).
When at last he replied, his voice it was flat,
"I'm sorry to say we've got nothing like that."


And if that didn't make me flip my lid,
For a pair of naff earphones, he charged me ten quid.
© me, 1994 or thenabouts.

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