back to article BBC Micro team to celebrate historic machine's 30th year

The brains behind the BBC Micro are this weekend getting together to relive the glory days of the 1980s home computer revolution. The event, Beeb@30, takes place at ARM's Cambridge HQ, on Sunday, 25 March. Confirmed guests include key Acorn staff: company founders Chris Curry and Hermann Hauser, and BBC Micro design team …


This topic is closed for new posts.


  1. Chika

    Damn and blast!

    I'm working that day!

    Ah well, all the best to them (from Chika, Madoka and the family including my aged old Model A and a bit).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Damn and blast!

      Never got a chance to have a go, my year group was excluded on the principle that we were leaving school within two years so there was no point.

      Never had much use for it in the Army either, and now I couldn't function without one!

  2. annodomini2


    And no free Pi?

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: WHAT!?

      Seeing as there isn't a single one available for sale in the world yet, no. And at least the BBC came in a case and COULD be sold to schools (which all current versions of the Pi do not and can not).

      <-- embittered "preorderer" who was under the impression it would NOT be a pre-order of any kind but actually selling stock that existed and worked. But apparently, that doesn't stop them working in a mention on every other article on /. and the Reg...

      1. Graham Bartlett

        Re: WHAT!?

        So come along and voice your discontent to Eben Upton in person. ;)

    2. annodomini2

      Re: WHAT!?

      Fail on my part, it was entirely meant as a joke! ;)

  3. Graham Bartlett

    And yours truly...

    Thanks for the mention, El Reg! I hope this won't put anyone off, but I'll be there too...

    In my other (non-software) life I do a bit of freelance sound-engineering. So I'm on staff at this gig, to juggle faders and lob microphones at people, and generally make sure that everything can be heard. And if you're not already convinced by all the geeky stuff, there's also couple of rather good bands playing - I can personally vouch for the quality of one of them, since I've done sound for them a few times.

    So if you're a Reg reader and you're attending this, say hi to the bloke behind the mixing desk. Or slag me off - I get paid the same either way (which probably won't be anything at all unless ticket sales are amazing, but never mind, it'll be a fun day). Preferably do this at a time when I'm not running around like a blue-arsed fly trying to set stuff up, of course.

  4. Mark Wilson

    Ahhh Memories

    I remember using one of these back in the long distant past, oh wait no, it was this morning as it still sits on my desk at work.

    I did learn assembler on these though way back when I was a nipper.

  5. g e

    David Braben?

    He going?

    1. Computer Museum

      Re: David Braben?

      He certainly has been invited but we haven't had confirmation yet. Ian Bell has also been invited :-)

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

        Re: David Braben?

        well... that should be good for a punch up then

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: David Braben?

      He initally confirmed that he would be attending on the 25th March.

      This was then replaced by statements later advising that he might be attending on the 26th March, then the 27th March, then the 28th March.

      All statements confirming his attendance at the event, and any references linking him to the event, have now mysteriously disappeared...

      1. G7OEA

        Re: David Braben?

        Eben and the Pi team did indeed turn up. He even brought photos of the production lines producing the raspberry pi's I had a good long conversation with the Raspberry team. If you have orders one you will get one. just be patient.

  6. Fenton

    BBC Basic on the Pi

    My youngest has stated he'd like to have a go at programming. And thinking back 30 years, I still think that BBC basic was probably the best beginners language there was.

    "Hello world" being one line of code.

    Drawing a box on screen 5 lines of code

    So please somebody, port BBC basic to the Pi.

    1. Soruk

      Re: BBC Basic on the Pi

      There's the open-source Brandy BASIC, which is a BBC BASIC implementation. It doesn't natively support graphics, and the project seems to be gathering dust, but there are demos that do graphics using Tektonix mode when run within an xterm. I've been playing with the ideas of actually implementing some of the graphics "natively" rather than special PROCs to do it.

      1. Drogon

        Re: BBC Basic on the Pi

        Oddly enough I've just written a BASIC interpreter as a personal project - does lots of nice graphics - standard plot/line stuff and turtle graphics. It runs under Linux and I've made it run under the RPi QEMU emulator thing. I didn't originally think of the RPi when I wrote it, it was just a personal project, but I'll be packaging it up for the RPi when I get a moment... It's a new modern thing with while/until, etc.


        1. Vic

          Re: BBC Basic on the Pi

          > I'll be packaging it up for the RPi when I get a moment...


          All we need now is a Buhlmann dive planner on the Pi :=)


          1. Drogon

            Re: BBC Basic on the Pi

            Ha, you build a box for it with display & pressure sensor and I'll port the real-time DDPLAN to it :)

    2. Victor Ludorum
      Thumb Up

      Re: BBC Basic on the Pi

      I haven't looked, but I'm sure Brandy will be available...

    3. nemo20000

      Re: BBC Basic on the Pi

      As there is a RISC OS port in process, there will be a BBC BASIC available for the Pi, and one running in an OS it can make full use of (unlike Brandy, for example).

    4. nemo20000

      Re: BBC Basic on the Pi

      There is also the commercial BBC BASIC for Windows by the self-same Richard ‘T’ Russell, attendee and ex-BBC boffin. It too can access its host’s OS properly, but runs under Windows, obviously:

      There’s a free demo version which is fine for small programs (<8K). As good a place to start as any.

    5. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: BBC Basic on the Pi

      BBC BASIC already exists for the Pi. The Pi runs an ARM. ARM BBC BASIC already exists.

      (Ok, it's more than just that, but the principle is the same. I'm currently updating ARM BBC BASIC to add the additions made to the Windows version, and am eagerly awaiting for a Pi so that I can check that it physically functions on the actual hardware.)

      1. G7OEA

        Re: BBC Basic on the Pi

        The Center for Computing History had their PPI there (no 7). I was watching the guys compiling a BBC emulator for the PI there and then. It works quite well. I am sure that binary will be available very soon once it has been fully tested.

  7. jai

    even as a kid....

    i preferred my Apple ][e to my bbc micro

    but i can't for the life of me tell you why - it's not like it was more shiny or anything. and it's hard to argue that, both being command line driven devices, the user experience was better on the Apple than the BBC, but i definitely preferred it

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: even as a kid....

      The fanboi Midi-Chlorians are strong in this one....

      Jai, ever considered a job as a 'Genius-master' with Steve's Evil Empire?

    2. Drogon

      Re: even as a kid....

      I started off on the Apple ][ them moved on the Beebs... I liked the Apple, but the graphics on the Beeb were much better - and it was faster, but not by that much - from BASIC anyway. The later Apple II's (//e, etc) were better - upper/lower case and 80 columns, etc.

      Working Apple II:

      (It's actually what inspired me to write my own BASIC)


  8. TRT Silver badge

    Chris Searle...

    I remember him.

    Mac died, though, didn't he? The guy who didn't see the point of "silly computer games". :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Mac died, though, didn't he?"

      No, I think he is still with us. :-)

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: "Mac died, though, didn't he?"

        Ah, Ian McNaught-Davis. Yes. There's not that much about him on the WWW funnily enough. He appears to be still going, though. He's an expert rock climber apparently, and quite (ho ho) high up in the sport.

  9. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    You had a BBC micro

    You were lucky - we only had a C64.

    .... etc ....

  10. Rob

    Repairs needed

    If I wasn't working I'd be there with the BBC B that's in the loft, armed with a soldering iron as we think it has a broken joint somewhere on the board that's stopping it from firing up (got a huge box full of games and software for it still as well).

  11. 0765794e08


    A few thoughts:

    1) I find it deeply satisfying that although Acorn came a cropper, its heritage and technical innovation lives on, and indeed continues to thrive, though ARM. It seemed that when Acorn went under, the PC clones (and companies such as Acorn’s arch nemesis, the dull as ditchwater ‘Research Machines’) had won the day. But the boffins in Cambridge weren’t to be defeated!

    2) I remember running Acorn’s PC Emulator on my Acorn Archimedes. In one of life’s little ironies, I now find immense gratification in the knowledge that Microsoft are falling over themselves to port Windows to the ARM architecture.

    3) Alas, my parents couldn’t afford a BBC Micro, so I got an Acorn Electron. But I’m not bitter. It was (and is) a great little computer. Plus the fact that I could program in BBC Basic helped me land my first job after leaving school.

    4) You can keep your Elites and your Chuckie Eggs. Gisburne’s Castle was, and is, the greatest BBC Micro game of all time. And you can call me Susan if it isn’t so.

    1. Ragarath
      Thumb Up

      Re: Accolades

      0765794e08, you are not the only one, Electron here to. Never let me down, helped me learn to code in Basic and had some great games.

      Ahh the days, it is still in my parents attic.

    2. Joe Pineapples

      Re: Accolades

      Hi Susan

      One word...Frak! :-)

  12. thecresta

    All I want... for someone to find a working copy of "The Magic Telephone Box". Only when I get past that dragon will I be able to carry on with my life without the constant pain of defeat.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    My Micro is still in the attic- I found coding the 6502 a right pig after the simplicity of the Z80, though I got used to it in the end. Our factory ended up making another pcb rom board that fitted above the keyboard, that accepted proms we had burnt with Elite, a word processor someone bought and a spreadsheet someone wrote. Goodbye to loading from tapes!

  14. The answer is 42


    Apologies to Sir Clive- I meant the Z8, not the Z80!

  15. JeffyPooh Silver badge

    Bloody Noobies...

    Our TRS-80s (Model 3 and several CoCos) are thirty-ONE years old.

    1. Chemist

      Re: Bloody Noobies...

      Ah, 6809 - Yes !

      1. Toastan Buttar
        Thumb Up

        Re: 6809

        Best. 8BitProcessor. Evar.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: 6809

          The TRS-80 and Coco.

          I used to sell these back in the days. You got people who came into the shop wanting to buy them for business purposes, and they were quite a pretty penny then too, so you'd show them how to get going, teach them a bit of word processing or spreadsheets, maybe spend an hour or two on a sale. Then you got other people who were just blown away by the flight simulator or something. Then you got the real people who came in wanting to use them for programming and you had to demo a bit of quick coding. This was when you could impress someone with a four line program to convert between Celsius and Fahrenheit, or something that rotated the letters in an input string around a bit. These were also the people who would buy bits to make an amplifier so they could get sound out of a TRS-80 by jacking into the tape socket - I think I must have sold a dozen of these purely on the back of that robot game that spoke.

          Glorious days.

          1. Vic

            Re: 6809

            > that robot game that spoke

            "Robot Attack".

            The speech bit was excellent. There was all sorts of efforts to do speech synthesis around at the time - all involving extra hardware (and crap sppech).

            There had been a magazine article, with the Great and the Good telling us all about how speech would necessarily require such hardware.

            Then Robot Attack came out :-)

            Ahhh, fond memories.


            1. Chemist

              Re: 6809

              Reason I'm so keen is I've still got a couple - I made a home-brew FORTH system years ago, own boards, disk drivers the lot - great experience -it still works even though I've now virtualized the terminal and disk. Cranked it up a year or two ago to experiment with replacing one of the serial ports with a PIC microcontroller programmed to emulate a 6850 which worked a treat.

              Great processor esp. for FORTH as it had an architecture/instruction set that matched the FORTH machines requirements. Great to program in assembler with its position independent code ( subset of the instruction set)

              1. Vic

                Re: 6809

                > Reason I'm so keen is I've still got a couple

                I've still got my Dragon 32. In full working order (even if the case is a bit yellowed).

                There was talk of OS/9 being available for it, but I can't currently find a source...


  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I preferred programming on the BBC B than on the spectrum, so my preference was 6502 over Z80.

    so many people said z80 was better, but being able to just add a few lines of assembly in the middle of your BBC basic program worked for me !

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      I prefer the BBC, but I prefer the Z80 ;)

      Solution - Z80 CoPro for the BBC, and port BBC BASIC to the Spectrum!

  17. Torben Mogensen

    Fond memories

    I'm nowhere near London this weekend, otherwise I would have come. Had I known about it a few weeks ago, I might have arranged a trip. Oh, well.

    I agree that the 6502 took a bit of getting used to, if you wanted to program in assembler. But the 6502 in the BBC was quite fast, so it was worth it. And the BASIC on the BBC was far ahead of BASICs on contemporary machines, both in terms of features and speed -- and that even though the BBC used 32-bit integers while the rest nearly all used 16-bit integers.

    A few years ago, I had the students for my compiler class write a BASIC compiler. It targeted MIPS (as that is the architecture they were familiar with after the architecture course) and it didn't have nearly all the features of BBC BASIC. But the students thought it a fun exercise.

  18. Sonny Jim
    Thumb Up


    The 6809 saw a lot of use in pinball machines, amoungst other things. There's even a GCC port for the 6809 which we are using for our open source pinball operating system ;-)

  19. rollwrong
    Thumb Up

    Ian McNaught-Davis

    'Mac', presenter of a number of early 1980s BBC Computer shows is (as far as I can work out) very much alive and kicking! Spurred on by watching a few of the old shows a couple of years ago, myself and like minded friends decided to check what he was up to nowadays...

    After watching a show from the 1960s of him climbing The Old Man of Hoy (on Orkney) we discovered that Ian McNaught-Davis is a big cheese in the world of mountaineering and is a patron of the British Mountaineering Council. He's mentioned in this article from only a few months ago:

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I remember stealing a beta version of the BBC manual from somewhere.

    Traded it to a mate for some decent pron. Such are the follies of youth.

    AC for the obvious reason.


This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019