The Beeb And The Story So Far…

Since its arrival the BBC has been buzzing with activity, not only with the chirpy sound of games downloaded via the amazing UPURS cable, but also for more productive tasks, like writing out articles for this blog. Thus far two articles for BMV have been written from the BBC, all thanks to the installed WordWise rom.

I would love to give you a breakdown of the whole program, but that simply is beyond the scope of my understanding of WordWise at the moment. I’ve not been using it long enough to be classed as an expert. I think I fall under the category of “crazy button pusher”. What I would like to do instead, is demonstrate how old computers can still be useful for modern tasks. If your looking to avoid the distractions of Facebook and flash games and become more productive, a BBC Micro might be for you.

Unwrapping the BBC

When the model B arrived at my door, I didn’t have a clue how to work it, which was one of the primary things that appealed to me, working from a clean slate with no previous knowledge. Thanks to the generosity of a fellow Amibay member the BBC, Monitor and floppy drive where given to me for the cost of postage and a few beers. I can not thank the person in question enough, nor should Amibay be overlooked. This is an excellent forum, full of like minded computer users, geeks and collectors alike. The artificially high prices of vintage computers on Ebay, makes collecting a mind field for anyone on a budget.

Inside the box the Beeb and monitor had arrived in, I found a copy of WordWise Plus with rom and manuals, as well as some floppy disks. Also amongst all of this was a copy of “The Complete BBC Computer Handbook”. For the first few days of having the computer, this book was like a bible to me. It did not cover disk use in depth, but it did skim the subject enough, that I was able to access the disk drive and boot up the Watford Utility disk which came with the Watford 40/80 drive.

Not having any of the original manuals for the BBC, certainly handicapped starting out, however using this book certainly got me off the ground. After a while I turned to the internet and found a forum dedicated to Acorn computers, which really helped bring things together. I highly recommend anyone with an interest in Acorn and the legacy of this British built computer to visit “www.stardot.org.uk”.

This forum is filled with some of the most helpful people I’ve had the pleasure to meet online. After registering and introducing myself, I asked a few questions and was offered a wealth of information and tips, which really helped me master some of the more tricky parts of using my Beeb. Again most of the questions I put forward would likely have been covered in the DFS or BBC Micro manual, both of which I didn’t possess. It was through this forum I was able to get my own copies, store them on my Kindle and stuck my head in them.

After reading the manual to my model B, I was a little disappointed that disc usage wasn’t covered extensively. At the time the Model B was on sale, a lot of software came on casette tape. Which the manual covers pretty well but for some reason only skims floppies. Did Acorn not think it would catch on? What ever the reason, it was certainly a stumbling block.

After working out the floppy drive, the next step was getting the micro up and running with WordWise, which meant opening up the computer.

In the next weeks blog I will be covering installing a rom, using WordWise plus and why a cable and a rom chip saved my bacon.

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