Feeds

Microbee flies again

Oz Z80: Back with extra Linux

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Australia’s answer to the ZX Spectrum and BBC Micro, the Microbee, is back.

Former Microbee employee Ewan Wordsworth has acquired the company’s intellectual property, stock and trademarks, started his own outfit called Microbee Technology, and is hard at work preparing 100 new-generation assemble-it-yourself Microbee kits. All have been pre-purchased by eager hobbyists.

The computers will ship with original cases Wordsworth purchased from Microbee’s last owners.

The Premium Plus model Wordsworth will sell used two circuit boards. The bottom board housed the CPU and screen controller and Wordsworth’s creation will use original Microbee components that are still in their original packaging and which Wordsworth says “have never been exposed to light” and are therefore all-but pristine.

The top board housed memory, but Wordsworth is building a new version of this board to add Ethernet, an SD card, RS-232 interface and a Coldfire processor. The extra CPU will let the machines dual boot between Microbee’s CP/M, and Shell user interface, or uCLinux.

Microbee debuted in February 1982 with a 30-page insert in long-dead magazine Your PC explaining how to build the computer, then sold only as a kit. Launched at a time when then-popular microcomputers like the BBC Micro or Sinclair Spectrum were imported by speciality retailers or small distributors who offered enthusiastic-but-limited support to Australian buyers. Thanks in part to local staff, later pre-assembled versions of the Microbee quickly found their way into businesses and schools (where they were often denigrated as the 'Microbe'). MicroBee Systems was even briefly listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Wordsworth was an early employee. "I started at MicroBee as a casual sales guy and very quickly moved into the service department doing repairs," he reminisced to The Register. "I eventually managed the Victorian service department when I was 17 or 18 and still at school."

The decision to revive Microbee was fuelled by Wordsworth's undying passion for the brand, plus positive feedback on electronics forums about the idea of a Microbee revival. The company's most recent owners liked the idea of bringing the brand back to life and shipped Wordsworth an archive of software that consumes two cubic metres of 5.25 inch floppy disks.

Wordsworth hopes the new venture will attract electronics enthusiasts who want more than a very simple machine. "I think we target a different type of market than things like Arduino or Raspberry Pi," he said. "Over the last decade the electronics industry has not been very friendly to those who want to learn about how basic microprocessor systems work" and Wordsworth hopes to fill this Microbee-shaped hole.

Wordsworth has also taken possession of 1200 original cases for the Microbee TeleComputer (TC), one of the last models the company produced. No original components for that model are available, but Wordsworth says he plans to "do something similar to the Premium Plus." ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
George Clooney, WikiLeaks' lawyer wife hand out burner phones to wedding guests
Day 4: 'News'-papers STILL rammed with Clooney nuptials
iPAD-FONDLING fanboi sparks SECURITY ALERT at Sydney airport
Breaches screening rules cos Apple SCREEN ROOLZ, ok?
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
The British Museum plonks digital bricks on world of Minecraft
Institution confirms it's cool with joining the blocky universe
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.