The men responsible for the creation of the BBC Micro are meeting up at the Science Museum in London today, to celebrate its creation.
I have many happy memories of the BBC Micro – my Dad was lucky enouguh to have an employer who understood what a revolution these ‘computers’ were likely to cause in the future. In the mid 1980s (I think) they set up a programme to allow staff to purchase a BBC Micro to use at home and educate themselves on. The initial purchase was actually made by the company, and the (then huge) cost of the Micro was taken out of the salary in instalments. Those who took them up on this offer got a snazzy machine to play with, and I can’t say that being able to programme in Basic ever harmed their career prospects!
A side effect of this is that I got to come home from school and , if Dad wasn’t using it, play games on the Micro. It was connected to an old TV which was used as the monitor, sitting on a wooden plinth that my Dad had made that fitted over that large ‘bum’. I don’t remember there being any more colour than a black background and green text, despite the fact that it was a colour TV. Text based games could be loaded onto it (I thought at first they were cassette based, but now I remember they were the original ‘floppy discs’, which meant they were portable and easy to load.), and my favourite game was definitely Eliza. Me and my friends spent many hours trying to wind her up, and feeling very naughty when we used a swear word! I almost learned to touch type on there too, but was far more interested in playing than typing…
I learned how to programme in Basic on the BBC Micro, which certainly helped me out when I took Computing in secondary school and we were using BBC Micros. Unfortunately, our teacher wasn’t actually a Computing teacher, but a Maths teacher who’d done a weekend course. So, when I got stuck, I was stuck for good. I think a lot of peoples terror of hitting the ‘wrong’ key also comes from BBC Micros – you hit the wrong thing at the wrong time and EVERYTHING went!!
Now, that BBC is up in the loft, securely packaged and insulated. It lives along with various other old computers (Commodore 64 and perhaps an Atari?), in a box sealed by my brother, and bearing the immortal words “Not to be opened until 2010”.
The time for opening draws near…maybe we could open it early and take the BBC on a daytrip to next years exhibition at the Science Museum?