ARM RISC OS (with BBC BASIC) goes open source

The original ARM operating system RISC OS has gone open source.

The OS itself was originally developed by Acorn Computers in Cambridge, England and was first released in 1987.

It was initially developed to run the 32-bit Arm processor family and was built using assembly language.

RISC OS is open sourced and available under the Apache 2.0 licence — it was one of the first operating systems to support the Raspberry Pi.

According to Elector, RISC OS was the underpinning OS for many famous software packages, including titles such as the Sibelius music processing family and the Xara range of graphics products.

“It also famously powered the graphics and production of many TV shows during the 1980s, 90s and 2000s including household names such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” notes Elector.


RISC OS in its open source 2018 status includes BBC BASIC, which is capable of running out of the box on the OS itself.

Between 1987 and 1998, RISC OS was contained within every ARM-based Acorn computer model. These included the Acorn Archimedes range, Acorn’s R line of computers (with RISC iX as a dual boot option), RiscPC, A7000 and also prototype models such as the Acorn NewsPad and Phoebe computer.

A version of the OS (called NCOS) was also used in Oracle’s Network Computer and compatible systems.

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