[email protected] – Thirty years of the BBC Micro and Computer Literacy Project

BBC Model A - CaseThe Computer Literacy Project was a BBC-led initiative to improve computing education in Britain. A new series entitled The Computer Programme was planned for 1982, and the corporation wanted their own machine to accompany it.

A number of British computing firms were approached to produce a machine to the BBC’s own specification. The contract was awarded to Acorn Computers, whose own Atom replacement machine, the Proton, was adapted to satisfy the criteria.

The resulting BBC Micro became the machine of choice for schools up and down the country, backed by the then Conservative government’s own desire to make Britain lead the world in computer education.

Thirty years on, the BBC Micro is fondly remembered as being the computer that started a generation of careers in IT. It also begs the question – what did the Computer Literacy Project achieve, and how does it compare to how computing is taught now?

[email protected] will be a celebration with a twist, with the people who made it happen just over thirty years ago.

For more information and how to order tickets, please visit this page.

3 thoughts on “[email protected] – Thirty years of the BBC Micro and Computer Literacy Project

  1. That’s not how I remember the BBC. It was the computer that really wet kids had because their mummy and daddy were minted. The electron was the computer less rich kids got. The Speccy and the C64 was the general computer of choice. I knew 2 kids with Atari 800XL’s, and they were kind of outcasts. All of those computers, even the Speccy, had better games. No one cared about the rest really.

    It was also horribly out of date by the time I left school. I mean I left school in 1989/1990 and by that time the BBC was a total joke. I went to Sixth Form College and they had Archies (A3xx and A4xx) and I just loved those and defended them like crazy against all the kids with ST’s and Amigas, but the BBC was artificially propped up by the lack of willingness to invest in computers.

  2. The BBC was my gateway to IT, computing and programming. I will forever remember and love my BBC Model B. I still have it today together with my 6502 second processor (TUBE) analogue joysticks original software and my tentative robotics and other interfaced electronic projects that I still feel so nostalgic about. There are no words that can explain my feeling of owning my BBC microcomputer. It was ahead of its time in all aspects. Even though today’s computers ( i have a quad core fully fledged PC water cooled etc etc) are so powerful, they don not give me that ‘feeling’ that I experienced with my old BBC Model B. Those were the days where we were still in control of the computing world, unlike today, where we lost touch of this fast moving world. Those were the days where one could feel comfortable owning a microcomputer for years, unlike today, where every month one may be tempted to update his computer if he affords it. I sometimes wish I am still programming in BBC Basic, or better still playing the best game ever… ELITE !!!! Those were the days!!!!

  3. In my experience the above article is correct. The BBC was the computer that most kids first engaged interest in, although you are correct in that it was too expensive for most parents to buy. Therefore the ZX Spectrum became the home machine of choice for most. By “most”, I mean around 80% of computers bought for Christmas 1983 (and 1984) were Spectrums. That’s how it was where I went to school, anyway.

    Your school/college experiences seem to differ to mine as by 1988 we were using Victor 8086-based PCs, which were upgraded to 286s only one year later. None of this alters the fact that the Beeb was the first computer that most of us used, igniting the interest. I guess it varies depending on, as you say, LEA attitudes to investing in kit.

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