Posh kids only
December 1, 2011 8:51 AM   Subscribe

My first computer. 32k and no disc drive (until summer when my mum borrowed one from school).
posted by grubby at 8:54 AM on December 1, 2011

posted by PenDevil at 8:54 AM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

The BBC Micro was my first computer. Today I own several, and the one currently on my desktop has been upgraded to have a solid state hard disk, ethernet card, and USB interface.

Remarkably expandable little beasts.
posted by Mwongozi at 8:55 AM on December 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I mapped out most of that game on taped-together pieces of A4 paper on my dining room floor.
posted by grubby at 8:56 AM on December 1, 2011


posted by grubby at 8:56 AM on December 1, 2011 [5 favorites]

I remember using a BBC Micro quite a bit at school, and even my mum coming in to "help" kids use it. But for the life of me I don't quite remember any of the programs. Anyway, we had an Atari 800XL at home, so I wasn't that impressed with the BBC Micro.
posted by Jehan at 9:06 AM on December 1, 2011

Yay, we had one of these. It was a lot of fun as I tried to figure out BASIC (not too successfully as it turns out). I remember my mum yelling "Dinner's ready!" as I stared at the screen.
posted by carter at 9:15 AM on December 1, 2011

20 GOTO 10
posted by permafrost at 9:15 AM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

2011 GOTO 1981
posted by Mwongozi at 9:18 AM on December 1, 2011 [12 favorites]

The BBC Micro is 30 years old....

Great. Now I feel 40 years old.
posted by rhymer at 9:25 AM on December 1, 2011

posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:44 AM on December 1, 2011 [4 favorites]

Screw you all. ZX Spectrum forever.
posted by schwa at 9:47 AM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

10 *FX 229,1
20 *KEY 10 RUN |M
40 GOTO 30

posted by fightorflight at 9:54 AM on December 1, 2011

The Beeb was definitely only a home computer for the poshest of the posh kids. It cost £400 when £400 was an awful lot of money. For the unwashed masses, we only got our hands on them at school. Incidentally, whilst it's usually described now as the BBC Micro, the Beeb that most of us that used them back in the day was always referred to as the BBC-B.

BBC Basic was awesome, especially compared to the alternatives. It also had a built-in assembler which made restarting after a reset caused by dodgy code (which happened a lot), a lot less painful than reloading the assembler from tape, which was necessary for the other machines of the time. It was that built-in assembler that taught me about 2-pass compilation, where the assembly instructions had to enclosed in a for loop if they contained any forward jumps, so that addresses could be resolved.

Also, I can't let this go any longer, it's been burning since I first saw Micro Men when it was first broadcast on the telly a while back: In Micro Men #2, linked by fearfulsymmetry above, at 05:17 kids are playing with Amstrad CPC-464s. This is very, very wrong. The 464 wasn't introduced until 1984, at about the same time as the Sinclair QL finally hit the shelves. They've tried to disguise those Amstrads, by encasing them, and their conjoined monitors, in boarding which leads me to suspect that the makers of the film knew that they were pulling a fast one.

Incidentally, if the Amstrad CPC-464 had been around then, it would almost certainly have become the official BBC micro. Its Locomotive Basic was the first proper challenger to BBC Basic, it had better graphics, came with a monitor (either hires green screen or mediumres colour), and was cheaper.

This post has made me realise that I've been messing around with computers for 30 years now. My first was a second-hand Jupiter Ace, when I was 12.
posted by veedubya at 9:55 AM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

I learned basic on the bbc micro and then was told to forget everything I'd learned when I got to college (object oriented languages and all that), but I'm quite certain I wouldn't be an engineer today if not for many hours on the BBC micro.

I'm also very glad we had a floppy disk drive to go with it. I hated waiting half an hour for games to load from the tape deck!
posted by TwoWordReview at 10:44 AM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

The BBC Micro and Sinclair ZX Spectrum started my love of technology. A life spawned from Chuckie Egg.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:53 AM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Arrrgh, Cyber-Thatcher!!!!

Almost as scary as this little monsters in Repton.
posted by pmcp at 10:58 AM on December 1, 2011

posted by pmcp at 11:04 AM on December 1, 2011

The BBC Micro was the home computer of the 1%
posted by fullerine at 11:05 AM on December 1, 2011

I remember seeing the sun coming up after a night playing Elite with my friend Dave on his dad's BBC.

And tonight?

We are going to drink beer and play Skyrim.

30 years.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:18 PM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm very intrigued by all of the different early 80s educational computers - Apple 2, Commodore Pet, etc. In educational computing now, the discussion seems to be about what kind of interface will be useful to kids in their future lives (see the debate about Linux vs. Windows in OLPC), it seems that back then, we were more open about the fact that we really had no idea what computers would look like in 30 years, just that everyone would be using them so kids had better start. But in imagining what computers will look like in the future, you're simultaneously inventing what computers will look like in the future.

But at the same time, since schools are often underfunded, these past visions of the future of computing last longer than they should. I still remember the awkward interface of the IBM computers we had in the computer labs at my school. They bore very little resemblance to computers outside the school even then, let alone computers of the future.

I'm probably not articulating this very well. I'm sure someone has written a great book about it.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:20 PM on December 1, 2011

I still keep a Beeb emulator around for BBC Basic. It's very, very good, and despite learning it in 1986, it's still what I think in for numerical problems. I remember aceing a numerical methods course by writing analysis programs in BBC Basic on my Z88.

But yeah, only the very posh kids had Beebs. I had a CPC464. The CPC had more games that were generally better, but didn't have Frak! or the canonical version of Elite. (Sorry, but the CPC version of Chuckie Egg was the best. MCWBTYC!)
posted by scruss at 1:00 PM on December 1, 2011

Oh, and one other thing: without the Beeb, we wouldn't have the ARM chip. I still call 'em Acorn RISC Machines, tho' I know they're way beyond what Acorn/Olivetti intended.

(and did I say 1986? 1984, more like.)
posted by scruss at 1:04 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have just sent a cheerful "Happy Birthday BBC-B Micro!" e-mail to my Your Sinclair Ed chum. He's going to give me such a pinch.
posted by subbes at 3:35 PM on December 1, 2011

I still remember the awkward interface of the IBM computers we had in the computer labs at my school.
I didn't get a home PC until I was well into my teens, but we had decrepit BBC Micros in a high school lab, so they were the only computers I got to touch for years. I recall being excited about a monochrome version of Flight Simulator on a friends fathers IBM XT at about the same time, so I can confidently say to you:
"kids these days..."
posted by bystander at 2:36 AM on December 5, 2011

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