Acorn bbc micro   1996-2001
My first BBC Micro

When I arrived in the UK with the plan to live there for a couple of years (09/95), I was pleased to discover round the corner from my work place a shop called Maplin. Maplin is a UK wide chain of electronics stores, with a huge catalogue. In France there is no equivalent, and I thought "I'll be back".

A few weeks later I bought there three Maplin Electronics magazines on sale, that contained a series of articles titled "PRACTICAL ROBOTICS TECHNIQUES", by Alan Pickard. These articles describe how to use a computer to control external devices such as motors and leds, and read from external sensors. They are understandable by beginners such as me, and the machine they use as example is the BBC micro. I had never heard about this machine before, and I decided to get hold of one and follow the operations mentioned in the articles.

 BBC micro beep musique

I had cable soldering skills, no knowledge of electronics, and didn't know any programming language except basic commands in Lingo, the language used by the multimedia program Director. I was only good at using various graphics, DTP and multimedia packages on a Mac. But I was craving to exit the mouse/keyboard/screen trilogy, get into the guts of the machine and gain control over little external devices.

I started scouting for a BBC micro. I tried car boot sales, second hand shops, skips, without success. I finally got hold of BBC micro user's manual and of an Electron, that is the little brother of the BBC. I learned how to program in BASIC from the manual. Robotics wise, I could do the first experiment "switch a motor on and off from the cassette port of your computer".

In July 1996, the college where I work underwent big refurbishing. Walking past the coffee machine, I glimpsed in the canteen, that was temporarily transformed into a storage space for office furniture. And there it was, glowing in an orange light, the BBC I wanted, with its CUB monitor! I enquired as to find the owner (design dept), spoke to the head. Looking at me as if I was a nutter, he said:

"- Yeah, take it."

In 2000 I was given enough BBC Micros to last a lifetime by RTI, Sheffield.