ollowing on from the Sinclair Spectrum, the other machine I got to play with a lot as a kid was the Acorn BBC Micro. In mid-to-late 80s UK there were several of these in every primary school (unless mine was unusually affluent). Secondary schools had them by the roomful at least until the mid-nineties, when they were finally supplanted by the might of the PC.
For many of my generation this was probably their first experience of computing without the agonising wait for programs to load from tape; the Beeb of course supported a tape interface, but most were installed with a 5 1/4” (very) floppy disk drive. Graphically, the ubiquitous Microvitec Cub monitor was a big step up from the usual re-purposed TV.
There were several versions of the BBC, each in a similarly styled beige box with integral keyboard. The originals, Models A and B, were pretty similar with the A having half as much memory. The Model A could be upgraded later to match the Model B specification, but the B proved more popular anyway. Later came the memory-enhanced Model B+, with subsequent revisions becoming the Master series. The most obvious additions in the Masters were the cartridge slots and numeric keypad, as well as even more RAM.
With fond memories of educational titles like “Granny’s Garden”, and less educational ones like “Pole Position” and “Boffin”, the BBC B seemed like a worthy machine to bring back to life inside an FPGA.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
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