By 1995, the face of education in British schools was beginning to change. The traditional Acorn computers, long the favourites of ICT departments across the land, were beginning to be phased out, replaced by the snazzy new Windows machines that seemed to promise so much more. A30x0s and A4000s, once used almost exclusively, were soon becoming resigned to less important jobs, perhaps only being booted up to run LOGO.

But Acorn had a few aces up their sleeves. Despite their market share rapidly shrinking, they believed that their two new machines would be enough to restore them into schools - their primary market. They were the RiscPC, a beefy machine that could run both the RISC OS and Windows (simultaneously), and the A7000.

In fact, the A7000 is a cut-down RiscPC. Available in three configurations, it was a strong machine in its own right - certainly far better than the former leader of the pack, the A4000 - it was capable of multimedia in the form of FMV and 16-bit audio, it boasted a CD-ROM drive as an optional extra, and either an Ethernet interface or a massive 425Mb hard disk.

Internally, the latest and greatest ARM processor, the ARM 7500 (running at 32Mhz) was backed by 2-4Mb of RAM and the RISC OS itself crammed into 4Mb ROM. It used the ADFS (Acorn Disk Filing System) by default. Sadly, it only features one DRAM socket, and no second processor slot, meaning it can be expanded to a total of 128Mb of RAM but no further. Also, the CD-ROM drive must be removed in order to fit a podule expansion.

While not being as cool as the RiscPC, the A7000 will be remembered as the last in the beloved line of Acorn machines. It was briefly resurrected as the A7000+, but is no more. I still use mine as a second computer - it has aged well, taking about 20 seconds from power on to a usable desktop, and plays a mean game of Lemmings.

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