The BBC Model B was markedly more sophisticated than its early rivals, thanks to its capabilities, powerful version of the Basic language, port array and full-size keyboard. But the BBC logo carried a lot of weight with purchasing parents hoping the machine would prove more educational to their offspring than a source of entertainment.
Selling the BBC Micro
Click for full-size image
Scan courtesy 80s Actual Technology
Those of us with folks who couldn't see it - or couldn't afford it - got Sinclair ZX-81s or Spectrums, Commodore Vic-20s or C-64s, or Dragon 32s for Christmas instead.
Both BBC Micros were powered by a CMOS 6502A processor clocked at 2MHz. Later models used the 6512A at the same clock frequency. The units had a modulator to allow them to be connected to a TV, though the Model B also had an RGB monitor port - the machine was often seen in UK schools sat beneath a Microvitec Cub monitor.
The graphics modes ran from 160 x 256 up to
320 x 256 640 x 256, with two to eight colours depending on the mode, some of which were text-only.
The computers used cassette tapes for storage - as all other home computers of the time did - but Acorn offered an optional floppy drive adaptor, and the truly wealthy could purchase a hard drive adaptor, connectable to a choice of 5MB, 10MB and 20MB drives.
Also optional was Econet, Acorn's 100Kb/s networking technology.
Ah, those were the days... when my-computer-is-better-than-your-computer fights were far more interesting than they are today. Taking the mickey out of Apple fanboys? How tough is that?
Acorn revamped the Model B as the B+64 in mid-1985, taking the memory to 64KB and adding the aforementioned 6512A CPU. It was followed by the 128KB B+128, but this was overshadowed in February 1986 by the introduction of the chunkier BBC Master, which also contained 128KB of memory and was the start of a line that ran for three more years, until 1989 when it was effectively superseded by the Acorn Archimedes, which had been launched in 1987.
BBC Micro creators meet to TRACE machine's legacy
but some of the rest of the team were there...
Henry Budgett (that's a name I remember!) was asking about Paul Kriwaczek? He was in fact in attendance at the Science Museum event and presented one of the papers. Although it was impossible for all the Computer Literacy team to be there for various reasons it did include the majority of those associated with the programme series; sadly Steve Lowry wasn't able to attend.
Good to see Dick Pountain contributing - he did some great reviews for Acorn products during those heady days!
I thought it was that Tony Smith from AcornUser
Yes, I love my beeb, still got it and the torch z80/68000 2nd processor with CPM never had the UNIX running as tube card was 2nd hand. Also I seem to remember that mode0/2 used 20k of RAM not 16k &3000-&8000. God that is sad haven't had it switched on for over a decade and I can still remember the memory map and most of the OS addresses.
The best thing about 8bit programming was you had to really think how to do something efficently, now'er days you just bung your code in your PC, no style or beauty. Hence the current inability of programmers to produce bug free code
Middle class machine
The BBC was GBP400 or so, compared to a C64 at around the GBP200 mark.
It had a much more sophisticated Basic and the aforementioned 80 character display. But the C64 had hardware sprites and sound to offload the somewhat wimpy CPU and was a whole lot better for games.
Hence little Nigel got a BBC and Kevin in the caancil aaass got a C64.
New fangled gizmo
The BBC Micro was one of the later home computers to hit the market.
I cut my teeth doing machine code on a PET, then bought a Tangerine Microtan 65. My friends had other 6502 machines such as Ohio Superboards and UK101s, and the other stream was Z80 machines such as Tandy TRS-80s, Nascom 1 and 2s, and Sharp MZ80Ks.
Later came the crappy ZX-80 and after that anything must have seemed sophisticated, particularly the limo of 6502 machines described in this article.
Paris cos she was just about to be conceived.
My finest hour...
... was not achieving --- E L I T E --- status (which I managed on no less than three occasions), but hacking Samantha Fox Strip Poker so I could get to the money shot without all that boring gambling business.
Those were the days, and far from being educational, the Beeb was entirely responsible for failing my A-levels in 1984. And again in 1985.