Retro Home Computers – BBC Microcomputer System

BBC Microcomputer System

The BBC Micro, full name, ‘BBC Microcomputer System,’ was a series of 8-bit computers that were designed and built by Acorn computers.

BBC Microcomputer System, aka BBC Micro

Above: BBC Microcomputer System, aka BBC Micro

In the early 1980s, the BBC issue a call for bids, or request for quotation to build a computer that could follow their TV programs and literature. A sort of precursor to the open university currently sponsored by the BBC. Acorn Computers won the bid. Acorn Computers was established in 1978 and was a British Hardware company that dissolved in 2000. The BBC Micro failed to gain acceptance outside of the UK with the Commodore 64 being the most popular in other markets. The main reason for the acceptance of the BBC Micro in the UK was its adoption in the education market.

MOS 6502 Architecture

Over the course of the project, nine different models were released. Each model had minor improvements such as memory or graphics enhancements. However, the central processor stayed the same. The BBC Micro used the same processor as that found in the Apple 2, Commodore 64 and Atari 400, the MOS 6502, which was later bought by Commodore International.

BBC Microcomputer System, aka BBC Micro

Above: BBC Microcomputer System motherboard

The 6502 was a powerful, but cheap 8-bit processor. The las BBC Micro was released in 1986.

Education Standard

The BBC Micro became the default standard in British schools during the 1980s despite its high cost. Schools appreciated how durable the construction was. It was able to withstand heavy use and lasted for many years, which many schools found to be a big seller.


Models A and B: These had 16K and 32K respectively.The 6502 was clocked at 4MHz. Alternativing access was given to the processor and video circuits allowing it to run faster than other competing 6502-based computers. It came with serial and parallel ports, digital I/O port, four analogue inputs and an expansion connector.

B+64 and B+128 Models: memory was increased to 64K and 128K respectively and added floppy disk support.

BBC Master: further refinements were added and 128K memory was standard.

BBC Micro Legacy

The machine was directly involved in the development of the ARM architecture which sees widespread use in embedded systems as of 2011.

Furthermore, due to the expansion ports added to the device, the BBC Micro is still in use today in the retro computing community. is looking for BBC Micro forums and hobby groups to link with. If you are the web master of your site, please contact us by out contact page.

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