BBC Micro Bot - The 6502-powered webpage
January 15, 2024 7:17 AM   Subscribe

BBC Micro bot runs your Mastodon toot on an 8-bit computer emulator and replies with a video. Toot-sized programs are written in BBC BASIC - a language created by Sophie Wilson in 1981 for the BBC Micro.
posted by AlSweigart (16 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Woohoo, I knew that if I waited long enough my programming skills would come back into fashion.
posted by biffa at 7:35 AM on January 15 [8 favorites]

So is a Masto toot that feeds a Micro bot a Micro toot or a Masto bot?

(Toots, skeets, xeets, threads... why don't we just accept that they'll forever be tweets? Musk has disavowed all things Twitter, so the label is surely fair game.)
posted by rory at 8:00 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


I wrote a console driver in 6502 assembly language for the Apple II while at Apple. The good old days!
posted by njohnson23 at 8:09 AM on January 15 [9 favorites]

I don't want to give the impression I am a BBC Basic expert. I'm shit at that too, just less shit than at all the other programming languages.
posted by biffa at 8:30 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]

I went to school for electronics SO long ago that one of the things we learned was the 6502 instruction set. I don't remember any of it I'm afraid. I remember a tiny bit about logic gates, the basics of Boolean algebra, and making truth tables, the fact that a functioning transistor should have a .7v difference between base and emitter, and that when we were taught about transistor theory, I made the joke that emitters suck and collectors blow, and nobody laughed. Good times, great oldies.
posted by evilDoug at 8:47 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]

Jeez, these youngsters... I bet you didn't hand-punch your 6502 instructions onto 80 column cards ;-)
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 9:11 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]

Seems lots of people are using non-ASCII characters to inject BASIC tokens so the programs fit into the toot-limit. Not as evil as embedding machine code, but close.
posted by credulous at 9:14 AM on January 15

Heheheh. I'm young enough that I didn't go through the Commodore 64 age of computing. But I'm still old enough that I like these low-res pretty pictures.
posted by AlSweigart at 9:32 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]

I remember convincing my grandmother to buy me a 6502 Assembly programming book in the 80s. One of my favorite purchases - and indeed perhaps the most impactful purchase of my life.

She had no idea why I wanted it so badly, but she lived in "the big city" - and I couldn't find a book like that in my hometown. Who knows how long it would have taken to find another copy - I begged her, and she relented.

I distinctly remember flipping through it at her house all weekend, and couldn't wait for the five hour drive home to start using it.
posted by carlodio at 11:38 AM on January 15 [8 favorites]

I went to school for electronics SO long ago that one of the things we did was calculate load lines for vacuum tubes.
I don't think I ever punched cards for 6502 instructions, although I did hand enter them into Butterfield's SuperMon. (as recently as last year).
posted by MtDewd at 1:12 PM on January 15 [3 favorites]

This gives me flashbacks to when I was young and my parents would buy me magazines with Basic games* and such and I’d type the code in to my TI (99?) from the magazine and save them to a cassette tape.

(*I’m sure the magazines had more than games, but that’s what I always did at age …9 I think?).
posted by teece303 at 2:57 PM on January 15 [2 favorites]

Seems lots of people are using non-ASCII characters to inject BASIC tokens so the programs fit into the toot-limit

This isn't a nefarious thing, but a feature built into the online Owlet BBC BASIC Editor to allow posting longer programs to constrained social media outlets. Owlet can decode these special characters. But many old-school BBC BASIC programmers can't help but shrink programs down by removing spaces and using the abbreviated forms of keywords, so the code is pretty much unreadable anyway.

From the author of Owlet is also VirtualBeeb - BBC Micro 3D simulation, a full 3D world containing a Beeb in extreme detail. Hold down Shift + Break (it's the key at the right end of the red function keys) and the virtual 3d beeb will boot Elite.

The remnant Beeb user community are extremely friendly and knowledgeable. None of the horrid pissing contests that there are in more scene-based retro places.
posted by scruss at 3:02 PM on January 15

Ah yes. I once did a 6502 project that basically made it into a 13-bit USART (minus the T, it was receive-only) for decoding the serial protocol from air-traffic control radars. Which were made into digital devices in the days before 8-bit bytes became standard. The FAA would not buy it and later would later spend something like $15 million designing an equivalent.

Scrupfairly, the $15M probably bought something more reliable and easier to use than my project.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 6:53 AM on January 16

I wonder how this would react to a much-larger-than-500-characters post. My Mastodon instance has a limit of about 7k.
posted by egypturnash at 8:27 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]

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