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25th anniversary of BBC Micro TV series

Published: 13th Jan 2007, 17:51:11 | Permalink | Printable

Where it all began

Ian McNaught-Davis and a BeebThis week marked 25 years since the first episode of The Computer Programme was broadcast, launching Acorn into the living rooms of millions. The BBC TV series, first shown on January 11, 1982, aimed to introduce computing and new technology to the UK using a new BBC-badged Acorn microcomputer - fondly known as the Beeb.

Presented by Ian McNaught-Davis, pictured, and Chris Serle, each 25 minute programme covered various topics from BASIC programming to simple robotics and control. Kraftwerk provided the theme tune, taken from their 1981 track Computer World, and the series was followed up by two more: Making the most of the Micro in 1983 and Micro Live from 1984 to 1987.

The 1982 series was part of the BBC Computer Literacy Project, launched after ITV produced a ground-breaking documentary, The Mighty Micro, which predicted the effects a computing revolution would have on the UK's economy, industry and lifestyle.

Acorn won the contract to produce the hardware for the project after it impressed BBC executives with its 2MHz 6502-powered microcomputer offering. Legend has it Acorn's Cambridge university student engineers managed to get their prototype's Mode 0 graphics working the day they set off to London to demo their kit. The specifications of their computer exceeded the BBC's requirements, and the rest is history.

Richard Russell, who was a BBC engineer involved in the selection of Acorn for the BBC and went on to produce a BBC Basic interpreter for Microsoft Windows, said the BBC project shaped the future of the UK's use of computers and technology.

Russell said: "Twenty-five years ago, the first episode of the BBC's seminal television series 'The Computer Programme' was broadcast. This introduced the BBC microcomputer and BBC Basic, and changed the course of home computing in the UK.

"Its influences are still felt today."

Qercus magazine is set to begin the new year with a series of articles celebrating the 25th birthday of Acorn User magazine. Qercus was formed from the merger of AU and Acorn Publisher in 2003.


The Computer Programme history
Listen to Kraftwerk's Computer World (ogg vorbis format)
The early history of the BBC microcomputer

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Chris Steele? Wasn't it Chris Serle?

 is a RISC OS Userspanners on 13/1/07 11:23PM
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The first series used Kraftwerk's Computer World from the Grammy-award -winning album of the same name, but series two and three used a BBC Radiophonic Workshop version which was close to the original without infringing copyright... Not a patch on the original.

 is a RISC OS UserGeoffP on 14/1/07 1:17PM
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Makes me wonder - does anyone regularly use their BBC micro(s) any more? I used to use mine regularlyish up until about five years ago

 is a RISC OS Userpolas on 17/1/07 12:17PM
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