Struggling on with the 'B'. By E4W (Crispin Boylan)
When I took my BBC out of storage in the Summer, it was just an unexpanded
Model B with one 80t drive, no roms, apart from DFS, OS and Basic, and
basically it was a sorry sight. Now however, it has twin 80t double sided
drives, an APTL board, 16k SWR, View, Viewsheet, Acorn Pascal, Wordwise,
Toolkit+, Inter Chart, AMX Max Desktop, and the Xtend ROM, and if I can
get it working and get software for it, the Z80 second processor! Also in
the pipeline is a 32k Watford Shadow RAM card, 1770 Disk Upgrade, an ADFS,
an AMX Mouse, Real Time Clock, ViewSpell, some fonts, an AMX Mouse with
Superart and maybe, if I have the money, a 6502 2nd Processor to play
I must be the only person around who is still actually buying things for a
BBC Model B! All my friends think I'm crazy, but at least some of them
understand what it's all about! Most of them wonder what I am doing with
the BBC when I already have a PC, well, its a bit on the dodgy side, and
there is fierce competition to use it, mainly for games (I only play
Sensible Soccer on it because there's no decent footy games for the Beeb)
but also for word processing. So when homework is in for tomorrow, or I
want a quick game of Zalaga, or a long game of Elite, I turn to the Beeb
for my pleasures. It is the only machine that I can actualy call 'mine'
and I love that fact. I am also getting into building my own stuff for
it, which is another great feature of the machine, it is so easy to add
whatever you want to it, without spending hundreds of pounds as you have
to do on the PC. I have tried adding things to the family PC, but it is
just too expensive, it is now and ageing 486dx2 and doesnt really cope
with the use it gets.
So far I have actually told 2 friends about the affection I have for my
Model B, here are the responses:
Me: "I still have a BBC Micro, it's great, I'm trying to build a Real Time
Clock for it!"
Friend 1: "An 8-bit system?.....oh dear."
Me: "I just bought an APTL board for my BBC, it expands the number of ROMS
you can have from 4 to 16!"
Friend 2: "Wow, that sounds great. By the way, why do you need more roms?"
By the way friend 2 did actually say that he wanted to get a BBC to see
what they were like!"
Another conversation about the BBC started with my friends and me when we
were in the Computer Science Department Storage Room, and I found amongst
the piles of junk, a boxed Electron in great condition, here is the
me: "Wow, an Electron, these are really good!"
friends: "Let's have a look!"
They read the features list on the box.
friends: "Its says 32k RAM and 32k Rom - what do you need 32k ROM for, you
can't even write to it!"
another person: "My calculator has the same amount of ram as that!"
So you see, the Model B is very much misunderstood by a lot of people, I
got mine in 1989 when I was just 8, but I quickly fell in love with it, it
was brilliant for games, and I was the envy of the class, the only one
with a computer at the time! I have always preferred the BBC to the PC,
even though there is now a huge gap between raw speed of the two machines,
and especially in the graphics, there is something about the BBC that
makes you never want to smash it into a thousand pieces with a mallet, or
chuck it out the window straight onto Bill Gates' head! It is well
designed, why PC's do not have their operating system in ROM is a mystery,
you could have the base code in Rom, making it extremely fast and any
modifications could be on the hard disk, when a new version came out,
simply flash it into the new ROM. That of course, assuming that PC's
actually have a worthwhile OS!
Actually, the threat has also come from within the walls of 8BS towers,
Chris Richardson has been slipping in little comments about how everything
would be much easier with a Model B, dropping hints like "Of course, on
the Master you can do...<insert program or function>", Ian Bell, another
helpful soul has also been saying "A firm in Nottinghamshire are selling
Masters for only 50 quid.." it seems that everyone is out to stop me
carrying on with my good old Model B!! But before I go paranoid, I must
remember that these two jolly fine chaps are already bitten by the Master
But the thing I like about the Model B is that it is just completely
compatible with everything ever made for the series, apart from Master
Specific things. All games will work on it, ROMS have no trouble, and the
games side of things is especially important to me, considering I am
trying to get a massive collection of the things! When I normally tell
people this they say, "Well get a Master as well, there's no reasn for you
not to!" well actually there is, money! Apart from that, a Master really
wouldn't keep me happy, there just isn't enough to do to it to make it
perform better! With the Beeb there's everything, more RAM, extra ROMS,
better disk controller, everything. I love expanding the Beeb, it is one
of the best parts of the machine for me, and I hope that I can fulfill my
plans for it - before all the parts are gone, or before the Beeb gives up
My ultimate aim is to get a SCSI card for the Beeb, not the one with two
controllers like the official Acorn ones, but just a single card, which
when used with ADFS will allow a normal SCSI-1 drive to plug in and be
used, but it seems like no-one has ever heard of it!
I hope you liked my little rant about how Beebs are best, maybe even more
people think I'm mad now, oh well all that remains for me to say is - LONG
LIVE THE MODEL B (and the Master series of course)!!!