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(i) (i) (i) (i) (i)

16–32 KiB (Model A/B) 64–128 KiB (Model B+) 128 KiB (Master) Plus 32–128 KB ROM, expandable to 272 KiB

STORAGE

100–800 KB (DFS) 160–1280 KB (ADFS floppy disks) 20 MB (ADFS hard disk)

DISPLAY PAL
PAL
/ NTSC , UHF
UHF
/composite /TTL RGB
RGB

GRAPHICS

640×256, 8 colours (various framebuffer modes) 78×75, 8 colours ( Teletext
Teletext
)

SOUND Texas Instruments SN76489 , 4 channels, mono TMS5220 speech synthesiser with phrase ROM (optional)

INPUT Keyboard, twin analogue joysticks with fire buttons, lightpen

CONNECTIVITY Printer parallel, RS-423 serial, user parallel, Econet (optional), 1 MHz bus, Tube second processor interface

POWER 50 W

PREDECESSOR Acorn Atom

SUCCESSOR Acorn Archimedes

RELATED ARTICLES Acorn Electron

The BBC
BBC
MICROCOMPUTER SYSTEM, or BBC
BBC
MICRO, is a series of microcomputers and associated peripherals designed and built by the Acorn Computer company for the BBC
BBC
Computer Literacy Project, operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation . Designed with an emphasis on education, it was notable for its ruggedness, expandability, and the quality of its operating system . An accompanying 1982 television series " The Computer Programme " featuring Chris Serle
Chris Serle
learning to use the machine was also broadcast on BBC
BBC
2 .

After the Literacy Project's call for bids for a computer to accompany the TV programmes and literature, Acorn won the contract with the Proton, a successor of its Atom computer prototyped at short notice. Renamed the BBC
BBC
Micro, the system was adopted by most schools in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
, changing Acorn's fortunes. It was also moderately successful as a home computer in the UK despite its high cost. Acorn also employed the machine to simulate and develop the ARM architecture which, many years later, has become hugely successful for embedded systems , including tablets and cellphones . In 2013 ARM was the most widely used 32-bit instruction set architecture .

While nine models were eventually produced with the BBC
BBC
brand, the phrase " BBC
BBC
Micro" is usually used colloquially to refer to the first six (Model A, B, B+64, B+128, Master 128, and Master Compact), excluding the Acorn Electron ; subsequent BBC
BBC
models are considered as part of Acorn\'s Archimedes series.

CONTENTS

* 1 History * 2 Market impact

* 3 Description

* 3.1 Hardware features: Models A and B

* 3.1.1 Export models * 3.1.2 Side product

* 3.2 Hardware features

* 3.2.1 B+64 and B+128 * 3.2.2 BBC
BBC
Master

* 3.3 Software and expandability

* 3.4 Peripherals

* 3.4.1 BBC
BBC
BASIC built-in programming language * 3.4.2 Other languages

* 4 Successor machines

* 5 Retro computing scene

* 5.1 Continued development and support

* 6 Specifications (Model A to Model B+128)

* 6.1 Display modes * 6.2 Optional extras

* 7 Use in the entertainment industry * 8 See also * 9 References * 10 External links

HISTORY

The BBC
BBC
Micro team in 2008

During the early 1980s, the BBC
BBC
started what became known as the BBC Computer Literacy Project. The project was initiated partly in response to an ITV documentary series The Mighty Micro, in which Christopher Evans of the UK's National Physical Laboratory predicted the coming microcomputer revolution and its effect on the economy, industry, and lifestyle of the United Kingdom.

The BBC
BBC
wanted to base its project on a microcomputer capable of performing various tasks which they could then demonstrate in the TV series The Computer Programme . The list of topics included programming , graphics , sound and music, teletext , controlling external hardware, and artificial intelligence . It developed an ambitious specification for a BBC
BBC
computer, and discussed the project with several companies including Acorn Computers , Sinclair Research
Sinclair Research
, Newbury Laboratories, Tangerine Computer Systems , and Dragon Data .

The Acorn team had already been working on a successor to their existing Atom microcomputer. Known as the Proton, it included better graphics and a faster 2 MHz MOS Technology 6502 central processing unit . The machine was only at the design stage at the time, and the Acorn team, including Steve Furber and Sophie Wilson , had one week to build a working prototype from the sketched designs. The team worked through the night to get a working Proton together to show the BBC. Not only was the Acorn Proton the only machine to match the BBC's specification, it also exceeded it in nearly every parameter. Based on the Proton prototype the BBC
BBC
signed a contract with Acorn as early as February 1981; by June the BBC
BBC
Micro's specifications and pricing were decided.

MARKET IMPACT

The keyboard of a Model B in close-up

The machine was released as the BBC
BBC
Microcomputer
Microcomputer
on 1 December 1981, although production problems pushed delivery of the majority of the initial run into 1982. Nicknamed "the Beeb", it was popular in the UK, especially in the educational market; about 80% of British schools had a BBC
BBC
microcomputer,

BYTE called the BBC
BBC
Micro Model B "a no-compromise computer that has many uses beyond self-instruction in computer technology". It called the Tube interface "the most innovative feature" of the computer, and concluded that "although some other British microcomputers offer more features for a given price, none of them surpass the BBC
BBC
... in terms of versatility and expansion capability". As with Sinclair 's ZX Spectrum and Commodore 's Commodore 64 , both released later in 1982, demand greatly exceeded supply. For some months, there were long delays before customers received the machines they had ordered.

Efforts were made to market the machine in the United States and West Germany. By October 1983, the US operation reported that American schools had placed orders with it totalling $21 million. In October 1984, while preparing a major expansion of its US dealer network, Acorn claimed sales of 85 per cent of the computers in British schools, and delivery of 40,000 machines per month. That December, Acorn stated its intention to become the market leader in US educational computing. The New York Times
The New York Times
considered the inclusion of local area networking to be of prime importance to teachers. The operation resulted in advertisements by at least one dealer in Interface Age magazine, but ultimately the attempt failed. The success of the machine in the UK was due largely to its acceptance as an "educational" computer – UK schools used BBC
BBC
Micros to teach computer literacy , information technology skills and a generation of games programmers. Acorn became more known for its model B computer than for its other products. Some Commonwealth countries, including India
India
, started their own Computer Literacy programs around 1987 and used the BBC
BBC
Micro, a clone of which was produced by Semiconductor Complex Limited and named the SCL Unicorn.

The Model A and the Model B were priced initially at £235 and £335 respectively, but increasing almost immediately to £299 and £399 due to increased costs. The Model B price of nearly £400 was roughly £1200 (€1393) in 2011 prices. Acorn anticipated the total sales to be around 12,000 units, but eventually more than 1.5 million BBC Micros were sold.

The cost of the BBC
BBC
Models was high compared to competitors such as the ZX Spectrum
ZX Spectrum
and the Commodore 64, and from 1983 on Acorn attempted to counter this by producing a simplified but largely compatible version intended for game playing, the 32K Acorn Electron .

DESCRIPTION

HARDWARE FEATURES: MODELS A AND B

Rear of the BBC
BBC
Micro. Ports from left to right: UHF
UHF
out , video out , RGB
RGB
, RS-423 , cassette, analogue in and Econet .

The Model A had 16 KB of user RAM, while the Model B had 32 KB. A feature that the Micro shared with other 6502 computers such as the Apple and the early Commodore models was that the RAM was clocked twice as fast as the CPU, with alternating access given to the CPU and the video display controller . This gave the BBC
BBC
Micro a fully unified memory address structure without speed penalties. To use the CPU
CPU
at full speed (2 MHz ) required the memory system to be capable of performing four million access cycles per second. Hitachi
Hitachi
was the only company, at the time, that made a DRAM that went that fast. So for the prototype the only four 4816s in the country got hand-carried by the rep. Most competing microcomputers with memory-mapped display incurred CPU
CPU
speed penalties depending on the actions of the video circuits (e.g. the Amstrad CPC and to a lesser extent the ZX Spectrum ) or kept video memory completely separate from the CPU
CPU
address pool (e.g. the MSX ).

The machine included a number of extra input/output interfaces: serial and parallel printer ports; an 8-bit general purpose digital I/O port; a port offering four analogue inputs, a light pen input, and switch inputs; and an expansion connector (the "1 MHz bus") that enabled other hardware to be connected. Extra ROMs could be fitted (four on the PCB or sixteen with expansion hardware) and accessed via paged memory. An Econet network interface and a disk drive interface were available as options. All motherboards had space for the electronic components, but Econet was rarely fitted. Additionally, an Acorn proprietary interface named the "Tube " allowed a second processor to be added. Three models of second processor were offered by Acorn, based on the 6502 , Z80 and 32016 CPUs. The Tube was later used in third-party add-ons, including a Zilog Z80
Zilog Z80
board and hard disk drive from Torch that allowed the BBC
BBC
machine to run CP/M programs.

Separate pages, each with a codename, were used to control the access to the I/O:

CODENAME PAGE DESCRIPTION

FRED 0xFC00 – 0xFCFF 1 MHz bus

JIM 0xFD00 – 0xFDFF 1 MHz bus / paged RAM

SHEILA 0xFE00 – 0xFEFF Mapped I/O for resident hardware – video, cassette, sound, interrupts

The Tube interface allowed Acorn to use BBC
BBC
Micros with ARM CPUs as software development machines when creating the Acorn Archimedes . This resulted in the ARM development kit for the BBC
BBC
Micro in 1986, priced at around £4000. From 2006 a kit with an ARM7TDMI CPU
CPU
running at 64 MHz, with as much as 64 MB of RAM, was released for the BBC Micro and Master, using the Tube interface to upgrade the old 8-bit micros into 32-bit RISC
RISC
machines. Among the software that operated on the Tube were an enhanced version of the Elite video game (see below) and a computer-aided design system that required a second 6502 CPU
CPU
and a 5-dimensional joystick named a "Bitstik".

The Model A and the Model B were built on the same printed circuit board (PCB) and a Model A could be upgraded to a Model B without too much difficulty. Users wishing to operate Model B software needed only to add the extra RAM and the user/printer 6522 VIA (which many games used for timers) and snip a link, a task that could be achieved without soldering. To do a full upgrade with all the external ports did, however, require soldering the connectors to the motherboard. The original machines shipped with "OS 0.1", with later updates advertised in magazines, supplied as a clip-in integrated circuit, with the last official version being "OS 1.2". Variations in the Acorn OS exist as a result of home-made projects and modified machines can still be bought on internet auction sites such as eBay , as of 2011.

The BBC
BBC
Model A was phased out of production with the introduction of the Electron , with chairman Chris Curry stating at the time that Acorn "would no longer promote it" (the Model A).

Early BBC
BBC
Micros used linear power supplies at the insistence of the BBC's engineering specification, but these very hot-running PSUs were soon replaced in production by switched mode units.

An apparent oversight in the manufacturing process resulted in a significant number of Model Bs producing a constant buzzing noise from the built-in speaker. This fault could be rectified partly by soldering a resistor across two pads.

There were five developments of the main BBC
BBC
micro circuit board that addressed various issues through the models production, from 'Issue 1' through to 'Issue 7' with variants 5 and 6 not being released. The 1985 ' BBC
BBC
Microcomputer
Microcomputer
Service Manual' from Acorn documented the details of the technical changes.

Per Watford Electronics comments in their '32K Ram Board Manual':

Early issue BBCs (Issue 3 circuit boards and before) are notorious for out of specification timings. If problems occur with this sort of machine, the problem can generally be cured by the use of either a Rockwell 6502A CPU
CPU
chip, or by replacing IC14 (a 74LS245) with either another 74LS245 or the faster 74ALS245.

Export Models

Advert in Interface Age magazine, November 1983, 'The BBC Microcomputer
Microcomputer
Is Here!'

Two export models were developed: one for the US, with Econet and speech hardware as standard; the other for West Germany . Both were fitted with radio frequency shielding as required by the respective countries, and they were still based on the Intel 8271 floppy drive controller. From June 1983 the name was always spelled out completely – "British Broadcasting Corporation Microcomputer
Microcomputer
System" – to avoid confusion with Brown, Boveri "> Elite ( Acornsoft , 1984). The unusual game screen used two display modes at once, to show both detail and colour.

The BBC
BBC
Micro platform amassed a large software base of both games and educational programs for its two main uses as a home and educational computer. Notable examples of each include the original release of Elite and Granny\'s Garden . Programming languages and some applications were supplied on ROM chips to be installed on the motherboard. These loaded instantly and left the RAM free for programs or documents.

Although appropriate content was little-supported by television broadcasters, telesoftware could be downloaded via the optional Teletext
Teletext
Adapter and the third-party teletext adaptors that emerged.

The built-in operating system, Acorn MOS , provided an extensive API to interface with all standard peripherals, ROM-based software and the screen. Features private to some versions of BASIC, like vector graphics , keyboard macros , cursor-based editing, sound queues and envelopes , were placed in the MOS ROM and made available to any application. BBC
BBC
BASIC itself, being in a separate ROM, could be replaced with any equivalent language.

BASIC, other languages and utility ROM chips resided in any of four 16 KB paged ROM sockets, with OS support for sixteen sockets via expansion hardware. The five (total) sockets were located partially obscured under the keyboard, with the leftmost socket hard-wired for the OS. While the original usage for the perforated panel on the left of the keyboard was for a Serial ROM or Speech ROM, a ZIF socket or edgecard connector could be installed in that location instead. The socket could be connected to one of the empty Sideways/PagedROM sockets via a header cable. The paged ROM system was essentially modular. A language-independent system of star commands, prefixed with an asterisk, provided the ability to select a language (for example *BASIC, *PASCAL), a filing system (*TAPE, *DISC), change settings (*FX, *OPT) or carry out ROM-supplied tasks (*COPY, *BACKUP) from the command line. The MOS recognised a handful of built-in commands, and polled the paged ROMs in descending order for service otherwise; if none of them claimed the command then the OS returned a Bad command error. Connecting an external EPROM programmer, one could write extensive programs, copy to programmable ROM (PROM) or EPROM, then invoke them without taxing user memory. Main article: Sideways address space

Not all ROMs offered star commands (ROMs containing data files, for instance), but any ROM could "hook " into certain vectors to enhance the system's functionality. Often the ROM was a device driver for mass storage combined with a filing system, starting with Acorn's 1982 Disc Filing System whose API
API
became the de facto standard for floppy disc access. The Acorn Graphics
Graphics
Extension ROM (GXR) expanded the VDU routines to draw geometric shapes, flood fills and sprites. During 1985 Micro Power
Micro Power
designed and marketed a Basic Extension ROM, introducing statements such as WHILE, ENDWHILE, CASE, WHEN, OTHERWISE, and ENDCASE, as well as direct mode commands including VERIFY.

Acorn strongly discouraged programmers from directly accessing the system variables and hardware, favouring official system calls . This was ostensibly to make sure programs kept working when migrated to coprocessors that utilised the Tube interface, but it also made BBC Micro software more portable across the Acorn range. Whereas untrappable PEEKs and POKEs were commonly used by other computers to reach the system elements, programs in either machine code or BBC BASIC would instead pass parameters to an operating system routine. In this way the MOS could translate the request for the local machine or send it across the Tube interface, as direct access was impossible from the coprocessor. Published programs largely conformed to the API except for games, which routinely engaged with the hardware for greater speed, and thus required a particular Acorn model.

As the early BBC
BBC
Micros had ample I/O allowing machines to be interconnected, and as many schools and universities employed the machines in Econet networks, numerous networked multiplayer games were created. With the exception of a tank game, Bolo , few became popular, in no small measure due to the limited number of machines aggregated in one place. A relatively late but well documented example can be found in a dissertation based on a ringed RS-423 interconnect.

PERIPHERALS

In line with its ethos of expandability Acorn produced its own range of peripherals for the BBC
BBC
Micro, including:

* Joysticks * Tape recorder * Floppy drive interface upgrade * Floppy drives (single and double) * Econet networking upgrade * Econet Bridge * Winchester disk system * 6502 Second Processor * Z80 Second processor (with CP/M and business software suite) * 32016 Second processor * ARM Evaluation System * Teletext
Teletext
adapter * Prestel
Prestel
adapter * Speech synthesiser * Music 500 synthesiser * BBC
BBC
Turtle (robot) * BBC
BBC
Buggy * IEEE 488 Interface

Other manufactures also produced an abundance of add-on hardware, some the most common being:

* RGB
RGB
monitors * Printers, plotters * Modems

BBC
BBC
BASIC Built-in Programming Language

Main article: BBC
BBC
BASIC BASIC prompt after switch-on or hard reset.

The built-in ROM-resident BBC
BBC
BASIC programming language interpreter realised the system's educational emphasis and was key to its success; not only was it the most comprehensive BASIC compared to other contemporary implementations but it ran very efficiently and was therefore fast. Advanced programs could be written without resorting to non-structured programming or machine code (necessary with many competing computers). Should one want or need to do some assembly programming, BBC
BBC
BASIC featured a built-in assembler that allowed a very easy mixture of BBC
BBC
BASIC and assembler for whatever processor BBC
BBC
BASIC was operating on.

When the BBC
BBC
Micro was released, many competing home computers used Microsoft BASIC , or variants typically designed to resemble it. Compared to Microsoft BASIC, BBC
BBC
BASIC featured IF…THEN…ELSE, REPEAT…UNTIL, named procedures and functions, but retained Goto and GOSUB for compatibility. It also supported high-resolution graphics, four-channel sound, pointer-based memory access (borrowed from BCPL ) and rudimentary macro assembly. Long variable names were accepted and distinguished completely, not just by the first two characters.

Other Languages

Acorn had made a point of not just supporting BBC
BBC
Basic but a number of contemporary languages, some of which were supplied as ROM chips to fit the spare 'Sideways-ROM' sockets on the motherboard. Other languages were supplied on tape or disk based.

Programming Languages from Acorn:

* ISO Pascal (2× 16 KB ROM + floppy disk) * S-Pascal (disk or tape) * BCPL (ROM plus further optional disk based modules) * Forth (16 KB ROM) * LISP (disk,tape or ROM) * Logo (2× 16 KB ROM) * Turtle Graphics
Graphics
(disk or tape) * Micro-PROLOG (16 KB ROM) * COMAL (16 KB ROM) * Microfocus CIS COBOL (running under CP/M on floppy disks via the Z80 second processor)

SUCCESSOR MACHINES

Main article: Acorn Archimedes

Acorn produced their own 32-bit Reduced Instruction Set (RISC) CPU during 1985, the ARM1. Furber composed a reference model of the processor on the BBC
BBC
Micro with 808 lines of BASIC, and ARM Holdings retains copies of the code for intellectual property purposes. The first prototype ARM platforms, the ARM Evaluation System and the A500 workstation, functioned as second processors attached to the BBC Micro's Tube interface. Acorn staff developed the A500's operating system in situ through the Tube until, one by one, the on-board I/O ports were enabled and the A500 ran as a stand-alone computer. With an upgraded processor this was eventually released during 1987 as four models in the Archimedes series, the lower-specified two models (512 KB and 1 MB) continuing the BBC
BBC
Microcomputer
Microcomputer
brand with the distinctive red function keys. Although the Archimedes ultimately was not a major success, the ARM family of processors has become the dominant processor architecture in mobile embedded consumer devices, particularly mobile telephones.

Acorn's last BBC-related model, the BBC
BBC
A3000, was released in 1989. It was essentially a 1 MB Archimedes back in a single case form factor .

RETRO COMPUTING SCENE

Acorn co-founder Hermann Hauser playing a game on a Master in 2012

As of 2005, thanks to its ready expandability and I/O functions, there are still numbers of BBC
BBC
Micros in use, and a retrocomputing community of dedicated users finding new tasks for the old hardware. They still survive in a few interactive displays in museums across the United Kingdom, and the Jodrell Bank
Jodrell Bank
observatory was reported to be still using a BBC
BBC
Micro to steer its 42 ft radio telescope during 2004. The Archimedes came with 65Arthur, an emulator which BYTE stated "lets many programs for the BBC
BBC
Micro run"; other emulators exist for many operating systems. Clockwise from top left: Hermann Hauser , Andy Hopper , Christopher Curry , Sophie Wilson , David Allen, Chris Serle
Chris Serle
, David Kitson, Chris Turner, and Steve Furber at the BBC
BBC
Micro 30th anniversary in 2012

In March 2008, the creators of the BBC
BBC
Micro met at the Science Museum in London. There was to be an exhibition about the computer and its legacy during 2009.

The UK National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park
Bletchley Park
uses BBC
BBC
Micros as part of a scheme to educate school children about computer programming.

In March 2012, the BBC
BBC
and Acorn teams responsible for the BBC
BBC
Micro and Computer Literacy Project met for a 30th anniversary party, entitled "Beeb@30". This was held at ARM 's offices in Cambridge and was co-hosted by the Centre for Computing History .

CONTINUED DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT

Long after the "venerable old Beeb" was superseded, additional hardware and software has been developed. Such developments have included Sprow's 1999 zip compression utility and a ROM Y2K bugfix for the BBC
BBC
Master .

There are also a number of websites still supporting both hardware and software development for the BBC
BBC
micros and Acorn in general.

SPECIFICATIONS (MODEL A TO MODEL B+128)

MODEL A MODEL B MODEL B+64 MODEL B+128

Processor MOS Technology 6502A at 2 MHz Rockwell Semiconductor 6512A at 2 MHz

RAM 16 KB 32 KB 64 KB composed of 32 KB standard memory, 20 KB video (Shadow ) memory and 12 KB extended (special Sideways) memory. 128 KB composed of 32 KB standard memory, 20 KB video (Shadow) memory and 76 KB extended (Sideways) memory.

ROM 32 KB of ROM composed of a 16 KB MOS (Machine Operating System) chip, and 16 KB read-only paged space defaulting to the BBC
BBC
BASIC chip. Four paged 16 KB ROM sockets standard, expandable to 16. 48 KB of ROM composed of 16 KB MOS, 16 KB DFS , and 16 KB read-only paged space defaulting to the BBC
BBC
BASIC.

Keyboard Full-travel keyboard with a top row of ten red-orange function keys ƒ0–ƒ9. These generated text semigraphics when pressed with CTRL or SHIFT, and could be programmed with keyboard macros. The arrow keys and BREAK could also serve as function keys. Links on the keyboard PCB allowed users to select the behaviour of Shift+Break, and Display Mode on Power-up/Break.

Display As Model B except RGB
RGB
(Optional upgrade, soldering required). 6-pin DIN digital RGB
RGB
connector +5 V/0 V, 1 V p-p composite colour or monochrome video (link S39) and built-in UHF
UHF
( PAL
PAL
) RF modulator .

Graphics
Graphics
As Model B, but Modes 0, 1, 2, and 3 not available due to lack of memory. Configurable graphics in Modes 0–6 (see table below) based on the Motorola 6845 CRT controller or Mode 7, a special Teletext
Teletext
mode, based a Mullard SAA5050 Teletext
Teletext
chip and only taking 1 KB of RAM.

Sound Four independent sound channels (one noise and three melodic) using the Texas Instruments SN76489 sound chip . Phoneme-based speech synthesis using the Texas Instruments TMS5220 with a custom Acorn ROM (the "PHROM", a TMS6100 ) of Kenneth Kendall 's voice (optional).

Tape storage Tape interface (with a relay operated motor control, controlled via 2 pins on a circular 7-pin DIN connector ), using the CUTS variation of the Kansas City standard data encoding scheme operating at 1200 or 300 baud.

Disk storage Optional floppy disk interface based initially on the Intel 8271 controller and later on the WD1770 , also requiring the installation of the DFS (disk filing system) ROM (and of soldered connector on Model A). ( 5.25" floppy drive usually used) – Densities: Single-Sided, Single Density, Single-Sided, Double-Density, Double-Sided, Single-Density and Double-Sided, Double-Density. Floppy disk controller based on the Western Digital
Western Digital
WD1770 controller and DFS ROM as standard (except ANB51, ANB52 ).

Hard-disk storage None (lack of memory). Additional ADFS ROM required, external drive unit connected to the 1 MHz Bus interface. (Winchester Hard disc drives with 5 MB, 10 MB or 20 MB capacities. Maximum of 512 MB per drive, up to four drives).

Serial Interface Optional upgrade, soldering required. 5-pin 'domino'-DIN RS-423 serial port.

Parallel interface Optional upgrade, soldering required. 26-pin IDC Centronics
Centronics
-compatible parallel port.

User port Optional upgrade, soldering required. 20-pin IDC "user port" with 8 general purpose digital I/O pins and two special/trigger sensitive digital pins used for control purposes (for e.g. a turtle when using the Logo programming language).

Analogue interface Optional upgrade, soldering required. DA15 socket with four 8/12 bit analogue inputs based on µPD7002 IC (suitable for two joysticks ), two inputs suitable for pushbuttons and an input for a light pen .

1 MHz Bus Optional upgrade, soldering required. 34-pin IDC connector for generic expansion on a "daisy-chain" (used for connecting hard disks, sound synthesisers etc.).

The Tube Optional upgrade, soldering required. 40-pin IDC connector for external second CPU. Options included a second 6502 , a Zilog Z80
Zilog Z80
, the ARM Evaluation System , or a National Semiconductor 32016 (the latter was either branded " BBC
BBC
Microcomputer System – 32016 Second Processor" or "Acorn Computer – Cambridge Co-Processor"), other vendors added 6809, 6800, 68000 and 68008. A 10 MHz 80186 co-processor from a BBC
BBC
Master can be connected through a co-processor adapter to a BBC
BBC
Micro, thus enjoying a limited degree of PC compatibility.

Network (Optional extra) Econet large-scale low-cost networking system – around 100 kbit/s using the Motorola
Motorola
68B54 (standard on US model).

Secondary power output Power supply for external disk drives, 6-pin, top to bottom, left to right: 0 V, 0 V +5 V DC @ 1.25 A, +12 V DC @ 1.25 A, NC, −5 V DC @75 mA,

DISPLAY MODES

Like the IBM PC with the contemporary Color Graphics
Graphics
Adapter , the video output of the BBC
BBC
Micro could be switched by software between a number of display modes . These varied between 20 and 40-column text suitable for a domestic TV, to 80-column text best viewed with a high-quality RGB-connected monitor (The 80-column mode was often too blurred to view when using a domestic TV via the UHF
UHF
output). The variety of modes offered applications a flexible compromise between colour depth, resolution and memory economy. In the first models, the OS and applications were left with the RAM left over from the display mode.

Mode 7 was a Teletext
Teletext
mode, extremely economical on memory and an original requirement due to the BBC's own use of broadcast teletext (Ceefax). It also made the computer useful as a Prestel
Prestel
terminal. The teletext characters were generated on board, for use with monitors and TV sets without a Teletext
Teletext
receiver. Train time displays at UK stations were driven by BBC
BBC
Master computers in this mode until around the late 1990s. Mode 7 used only 1 KB for video RAM by storing each character as its ASCII code, rather than its bitmap image as was needed for the other modes.

Modes 0 to 6 (the ' ASCII ' modes) could display colours from a logical palette of sixteen: the eight basic colours at the vertices of the RGB
RGB
colour cube and eight flashing colours made by alternating the basic colour with its inverse. The palette could be freely reprogrammed without touching display memory. Modes 3 and 6 were special text-only modes that used less RAM by reducing the number of text rows and inserting blank scan lines below each row. Mode 6 was the smallest, allocating 8 KB as video memory. Modes 0 to 6 could show diacritics and other user defined characters. All modes except 7 supported bitmapped graphics , but graphics commands such as DRAW and PLOT had no effect in the text-only modes.

The BBC
BBC
B+ and the later Master provided 'shadow modes', where the 1–20 KB frame buffer was stored in an alternative RAM bank, freeing the main memory for user programs. This feature was requested by setting bit 7 of the mode variable, i.e. by requesting modes 128–135.

GRAPHICS MODE RESOLUTION (X×Y) HARDWARE COLOURS VIDEO RAM TYPE

CHAR CELLS PIXELS USED (KB) MAP

0 80 × 32 640 × 256 2 20 0x3000–0x7FFF Graphics

1 40 × 32 320 × 256 4 20 0x3000–0x7FFF Graphics

2 20 × 32 160 × 256 8 20 0x3000–0x7FFF Graphics

3 80 × 25 640 × 200 2 16 0x4000–0x7FFF Text

4 40 × 32 320 × 256 2 10 0x5800–0x7FFF Graphics

5 20 × 32 160 × 256 4 10 0x5800–0x7FFF Graphics

6 40 × 25 320 × 200 2 8 0x6000–0x7FFF Text

7 (Teletext) 40 × 25 480 × 500 8 1 0x7C00–0x7FFF Text

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

A speech synthesis upgrade based on the Texas Instruments TMS5220 featured sampled phonemes spoken by BBC
BBC
newscaster Kenneth Kendall . The speech system was standard on the US model where it had an American vocabulary. Elsewhere it sold poorly and was eventually largely replaced by Superior Software 's software-based synthesiser using the standard sound hardware.

The speech upgrade also added two empty sockets next to the keyboard intended to take 16 KB serial ROM cartridges containing either extra speech phoneme data (in addition to the default speech ROM fitted to the motherboard), or general software accessed through the ROM Filing System. The original plan was that some games would be released on cartridges, but due to the limited sales of the speech upgrade, little or no software was ever produced for these sockets. The cut-out space next to the keyboard (nicknamed the "ashtray") was more commonly used to install other upgrades, such as a ZIF socket for conventional paged ROMs.

USE IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY

The BBC Domesday Project
BBC Domesday Project
, a pioneering multimedia experiment, was based on a modified version of the BBC
BBC
Micro's successor, the BBC Master .

Musician Vince Clarke of the British synth pop bands Depeche Mode
Depeche Mode
, Yazoo , and Erasure
Erasure
used a BBC
BBC
Micro (and later a BBC
BBC
Master ) with the UMI music sequencer to compose many hits. In music videos from the 1980s featuring Vince Clarke, a BBC
BBC
Micro is often present or provides text and graphics such as a clip for Erasure's "Oh L'Amour". The musical group Queen used the UMI Music Sequencer on their record A Kind of Magic . The UMI is also mentioned in the CD booklet. Other bands who have used the Beeb for making music are A-ha
A-ha
and the reggae band Steel Pulse . Paul Ridout is credited as "UMI programmer" on Cars ' bassist/vocalist Benjamin Orr 's 1986 solo album, The Lace . Black Uhuru used the Envelope Generator from SYSTEM software (Sheffield) running on a BBC
BBC
Micro, to create some of the electro-dub sounds on Try It (Anthem album 1983).

The BBC
BBC
Micro was used extensively to provide graphics and sound effects for many early 1980s BBC
BBC
TV shows. These included, notably, series 3 and 4 of The Adventure Game ; the children's quiz game "First Class" (where the onscreen scoreboard was provided by a BBC Micro nicknamed "Eugene"); and numerous 1980s episodes of Doctor Who including "Castrovalva ", " The Five Doctors ", and "The Twin Dilemma ".

SEE ALSO

* BBC
BBC
portal * 1980s portal

* Acorn Electron * Acorn Archimedes * BBC
BBC
Computer Literacy Project 2012 * BBC
BBC
Master * Risc PC * Micro Bit – modern successor to the project

* TV

* Micro Men - BBC
BBC
documentary drama * Micro Live
Micro Live
BBC
BBC
television programme * Making the Most of the Micro BBC
BBC
television programme

* Magazines

* BEEBUG – user group magazine * (BBC) Acorn User * The Micro User (also known as Acorn Computing)

* WDR computer

REFERENCES

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