AMCS are a regular fixture at the RISC OS shows. So we decided it was time to find out a little bit more about them. Many thanks for qUE for giving us the inside track...
Would you like to introduce yourself?
My name is qUE (pronounced kyoo), I'm the one you avoid at 3rd Event Technologies.
Obsessive about coding in assembler contrary to people constantly telling me compilers are better,
develop a Music Production Operating System called the Advanced Music Construction System compatible with the Acorn Archimedes A3000
and make true live Experimental Industrial Hard Techno "Music" with AMCS and another project called 3ETAM.
How long have you been using RISC OS?
Bit vague but I switched to an Acorn Archimedes A3000 from a BBC Micro B maybe back in the early ninties, I had always wanted one since school had a few and I'd not seen a GUI before.
Was absolutely blown away by an Acorn User Cover disc I hung on to for ages which featured demos of Chocks Away and Lemmings. At that point I knew the Acorn Archimedes was something special.
What other systems do you use?
I use a Windows 98SE computer daily for development now, mainly for true DOS, CRT/VGA connection and the SD support as nearly all the new systems I develop for now require SD cards.
I also have a multi-boot Laptop with Lubuntu and a lite version of Windows XP, this is used mainly either for digital mixing on an Internet Radio Show me and a mate run or any websites I can't access through my rather old browser on 98SE.
What is your current RISC OS setup?
I still have an Archimedes A3000 on my desk, still gets powered up occasionally for either testing or the usual renaissance with !WIMPTracker, Demos and Games.
What do you think of the retro scene?
Well here we are, Acorn no longer exist (if you ignore the recent registering of Acorn Computers Limited) and the ARM chip is in pretty much everything portable and embedded.
Yet the scene is still supporting the old computers because well, don't forget your roots right? and developing for them keeps things in check with being lazy and creating bloatware.
Also ARM rulez!
Do you attend any of the shows and what do you think of them?
London and South-West, other ones are a little too far afield.
London show was just starting back up and I was invited to show how crazy a person could be in spending two decades creating a modern music production system for a three decade old computer, and still attend it when I can.
South-West show recently moved to Bristol, literally down the road from where I live, so I have no excuse not to attend it.
What do you use RISC OS for in 2020 and what do you like most about it?
AMCS is still built in BBC BASIC Assembler, I've broken the token line limit, made macro functions to dynamically allow full word immediates in instructions and support newer ARM chipsets.
So yeah, in short it's quick and flexible. It's also syntactically by far the best ARM assembler ever made.
What is your favourite feature/killer program in RISC OS?
The Strong suite by Guttorm Vik, before I switched to using Metapad, DOS, an Archimedes Emulator and breaking the BASIC line limit myself, these were my tools.
!WIMPTracker I got on a cover disc of Archimedes World, if I didn't start making Techno on this and then eventually finding it limited, I don't think I would have started the project I did.
BBC BASIC V, I mean prototyping stuff as you go in BASIC is great, but Acorn just took it way further.
What would you most like to see in RISC OS in the future?
It's hard to say, RISC OS is actually in a similar boat to me in supporting newer platforms, manufacturers will not hang about with producing embedded boards and products, generally giving them a lifecycle of around 7 years.
I was burnt once by supporting the A3000 and realising when the boards are no longer manufactured where do you go?, so set about abstracting everything to make the system fully adaptable to newer hardware.
But now I find the new challenge is ever changing supporting ICs because of manufacturing cost reduction with every new board released.
The next hurdle will definitely be CPUs going 64-bit ARM only, which personally I only see useful for huge computations and graphics heavy stuff, hopefully they won't ditch 32-bit embedded application support.
Ultimately these things will hinder any speedy progress in developing our OSes. Coming from those lessons I'm certainly not one to pressure new features in RISC OS ;)
Favourite (vaguely RISC OS-releated) moan?
"Hah, your old computer is no match for my Apple/Google Phone/Pad!" [Phone/Pad barely does anything useful]
Any surprises you can't or dates to tease us with?
AMCS may be supporting a null pastry some time later this year.
Apart from iconbar (obviously) what are your favourite websites?
Stardot forums, Riscository to remind me when I'm supposed to be at the next user group meeting,
various synthesiser related websites and since being kicked from FB I've moved to Reddit to keep up with the social media deluge.
What are your interests beyond RISC OS?
Making "Music" and DJing, I've been doing these as long as I've had an Archimedes :)
You can find audio from our underground research organisation at http://mixcloud.com/invertedlightsource
and of course the official website http://www.invertedlightsource.com
If someone hired you for a month to develop RISC OS software, what would you create?
Probably an Assembler which can build the early versions of ROS. A few in the retro scene want it and it's useful for myself to.
Any future plans or ideas you can share with us?
We're at a Synthesiser Show called Machina Bristronica in Bristol end of March and
Brighton Music Conference end of April. The Radio show is ongoing every 4 weeks at
I also plan to make AMCS the smallest powerful sequencer ever (mwuhahaha).
Any questions we forgot to ask you?
Earl Grey, Lapsang, Gunpowder or Bengal Spice with a Spoon of Honey
STM/LDM and REP STOS/LODS instructions
Cool Edit 2.1 and Paint Shop Pro 7
Stereo/44.1KHz/16-bit is good enough
Technical documentation these days is mostly contradictory and meaningless (if it exists)