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01.12.2011 Technology

The BBC Microcomputer and me, 30 years down the line

By Daily Guide
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The system was built by Acorn Computers as part of the BBC's Computer Literacy Project.

It ran a new programming language, BBC Basic (beginners all-purpose symbolic instruction code), and helped bring computing into people's homes and schools.

However, trying to establish an “official” launch date is trickier than it sounds.

Although the computers were demonstrated at trade exhibitions and reviewed in the press in 1981, a production snag pushed back deliveries.

A circuit, which controlled the “high definition” screen display, was found to have a higher than acceptable failure rate.

A redesign was ordered and as a result only a few hundred computers out of a planned batch of 3,000 were ready in time for the start of The Computer Programme when the first episode was broadcast in January 1982.

This initial hiccup proved far from fatal. After Acorn overhauled its production system, the Model A and the more expensive Model B went on to sell more than 1.5 million units, wildly exceeding expectations.

The BBC asked seven people whose lives were changed by the computers for their memories.


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