Note the very
of-its-time pun. Alternative suggestions include "Take a byte out of our
chips!" or "Micro prices for micro computers!".
America had the
Apple 2. But Britain had the BBC Micro. America's loss. Both machines were
roughly the same price in the UK, and both occupied similar market slots,
way above the Sinclair Spectrum and C64 but below the Osbornes and Epsons
of the word in 1983 - the high end of the low end, as it were. The BBC
Micro was a proper computer, albeit not as proper as the
now-forgotten generation of CP/M business machines that were swept away by
the IBM PC.
The BBC Micro was actually made by Acorn, creators of
the Atom and, nowadays, the RISC-based CPUs. The BBC wanted a computer of
their own, to feature on television and sell to schools, and both Acorn
and Sinclair made a stab at creating such a machine. There wasn't really
any doubt that Acorn would win, if only because Sinclair's machines would
have fallen to bits in the hands of schoolchildren. And they would have
been stolen, because they were tiny. The BBC Micro was not tiny. It was
huge, and built to last. The keyboard was tough. You could put objects on
the case, and it wouldn't complain. It used analogue joysticks, perfect
for robotics. It had masses and masses of connectors. It had a proper disc
drive, not the weird tape microdrive of the Spectrum or the perverse
Commodore 1541. It had Econet, so you could play MUDs with your friends
and send them text messages whilst in the same room.
certain generation grew up with a BBC Micro at school. They were much too
expensive for all but the most middle-class of kids to own personally, and
there were very few games for them, at least compared to the Spectrum/C64.
Having said that, Elite, Sentinel, Repton and
Exile originated on the BBC, and Acornsoft's version of
Defender was as good as any on a home computer.
list with the advert highlights the BBC's capacity for a extra CPU -
another 6502 for extra speed or a Z80 for running CP/M. This latter costs
£200 in the advert and was surely an extravagance, but even today it
sounds awe-inspiring. The BBC's only Achilles heel was a lack of memory
-16kb in the original, 32kb in the Model B, something solved with the BBC
Master 128 a few years later. Unfortunately, by the time it came out,
16-bit machines were in the ascendancy, and the £399.99 asking price was
And on what better note to finish? Except, perhaps, a