This is my second article about the history of 8BS. For the other parts see:
Part 1 by Duncan Webster in 8BS 33
Part 2 by Duncan Webster in 8BS 40
Part 3 by myself in 8BS 46
PART 4 (22/09/98) By Chris Richardson
I lost this article in a 'new software' disaster. I discovered that a new HTML
editor I used 'tidied' the text into oblivion. Thanks to Stephan Richardson for
providing a printout that I 'more or less' copied back in faithfully.
Crumbs! It is nearly three years since I wrote the first history article, As I
said, it is now history. Time flies.
As I gathered the above articles together to put on the 8BS website. I realised
that it was maybe time to update the story a little further. So here we go
Update of my earlier history of 8BS
Changes to the format of the disc based magazine have been minimal. As I said,
I was happy with the format and still am. The menu software still looks the
same on the outside. I have just tidied up the way I put the articles and
software into the menu so that it is easy to follow. When I look at some of
the older magazines, I mixed articles and adverts up in the same menu. Steven
Flintham who wrote the menuing system is still a member of 8BS but is presently
not in a position to find the time to put in to write software for 8BS.
Jonathan Harston has had a fiddle with the menu system and made some useful
alterations to the way it is organised.
The 8BS pool of PD discs is ever growing. There are now 963 entries in
my TBI Totals table This does not mean that there are 963 discs in the library!
There are more than 1000 discs in my drawer, some entries in the catalogue
consist of more than one disc. I have copied and sent out 17,599 discs from the
pool. More recently I have produced a set of CD roms containing the whole of
the pool available to PC users with BBC emulators.
There are now 464 members of 8BS, but this is a misleading total. How do you
leave the membership? There is no fee to join, membership does not expire.
Very few people bother to tell me they no longer have a BBC. Some members may
leave a gap of a year or two between requests for issues. I have a graph that
can call up that shows me the last issue that members received This gives a
reasonable indication of how many are leaving. I can compare this with a graph
of how many are joining to see how 8BS is doing for membership. About 110
members have received the last two issues. There are some members that do not
receive magazine issues, These numbers are just a little bit less than they
were 3 years ago. HOWEVER! My opinion is that it does not matter how many
people are in the club, it is the enthusiasm of those that are in it that is
important. Until issue 66, there has been plenty of stuff submitted for the
I now have on my desk just one Master 128 with a 512 board and 1 meg
upgrade. A Monitor, twin 5.25" to 3, 5" drive, twin 3 5" drive, Eprom
Programmer and twin 40 meg hard drives. I have a number of machines in the loft
complete my collection of Acorn 8 bit machines as well as some spares to keep
my Master going. I am still looking for an Acorn Atom. Recently, whilst talking
to someone on the telephone, I completely stripped my Master down and cleaned
it up. All the keytops came off, the motherboard came out and the whole thing
got a good polish up. It is now spotless and ready for another 10 years
In late 1996, a PC appeared on the 8BS desk. I wanted to buy an
Archimedes, however the cost was too high. I am by nature a skinflint and hate
to part with money. When I looked at what I could get for the money when
comparing a PC and Archimedes, I am sorry to say that the PC won.
I had a plan, I wanted to put the 8BS pool onto the hard disc of my BBC as a
backup. I wanted to create a website for 8BS. Before I got the PC, the 5.25"
discs with their 3.5" backups took up huge amounts of space in my house. There
were over 2000 discs of software kicking about in boxes. I wrote some disc
imaging software to read the DFS and ADFS discs into my BBC's hard drive. It
worked quite nicely. I now had a way of reading and writing images. Then I
worked out how much disc space I required to image the 8BS pool. There was not
enough. I hit the idea of a backup on hard disc on the head.
When I got a PC, my plan was to somehow do the same thing but using the PC hard
drive. When I started, I had no idea how I was going to do this. First of all,
I needed to copy the disc onto the PC. I was lucky in that the backup of
thepool was on 3.5" disc. I found a piece of PC software called FDC that would
read BBC discs in as images. Over a period of 3 months I then read the 3.5"
discs in as images. I putthe 5.25" version of the pool away and managed without
it for several months. I was happy that I could manage this way with the two
drawers full of 3.5" discs as the master copy of the pool, so I gave the 5.25"
discs away as freebies.
I did not expect to find BBC emulators, but there was a plethora of them. I
tried them all and eventually decided that Stuart McConnachie's PCBBC was the
best. I now have my PC set up so that a double click on the BBC disc imageruns
the emulator with that image loaded.
I then started putting the images onto CD and passing them on to people. Mark
Usher helped me develop an Access 97 database that contains a copy of the
catalogue. Click on a disc image and it runs a specially adapted copy of PCBBC
with the image loaded. The whole pool is now available on 7 CD's. There are
many other useful tools on each CD too.
I misguidedly signed on with the internet provider Compuserve for
a couple of months. After realising that I was paying a fortune to stay on line
for more than a few hours each month I signed off and weht for good old Karoo.
They gave me a couple of megabytes of webspace and on 5/3/97 8BS went on to the
I spent hours putting 8BS into as many search engines as I could. Just about
all new entries into the club come via email from the website.
I discovered Robert Schmidt's BBC Lives! website. He has amassed a huge
collection of BBC software, mostly commercial, he is trying to collect
everything. He has given space for a lot of the 8BS magazines to be made
Through Robert's site I found Mark Usher. Mark's self imposed millstone is to
get as much BBC documentation as possible into electronic format. Over the
years, Mark has come to my rescue many times.
Not The Acorn User Shows 1 and 2
Jonathan Harston volunteered his house for a weekend in Summer 1996.
This was quite handy as there was to be no Acorn User show in Harrogate that
year. Paul Clucas suggested that we called it 'Not The Acorn User Show'
which seemed quite appropriate. Many 8BS members showed up over the 4 days,
some staying overnight. There was lots of discussion and fiddling about with
BBC bits. Jonathan volunteered the same thing in 1997 and was taken up on it
once more. There are articles in 8BS magazines about these events.
An offshoot of Not The Acorn User Show 1 was EBTEL. Many hours were spent
discussing the idea of a modem based communication system for 8BS, more or less
an extension to the messaging system. Here are the specifications I wrote for
EBTEL 8-Bit Software Telephone Messaging System
Introduction EBTEL is a telephone based messaging system that links in to the
8BS messaging system but is also a messaging system in its own right.
EBTEL indirectly links in to the internet allowing 8BS members limited access
to the internet.
EBTEL is an organisation within 8-Bit Software. Only members of 8BS will be
able to join EBTEL. In the spirit of 8BS, EBTEL membership is free. Members of
EBTEL will be supplied with a disc containing all the required software for
connection to EBTEL.
? To allow members of 8-Bit Software to pass messages and software to 8BS for
the regular disc based magazine.
? To allow members of 8-Bit Software to pass messages to one another via the
? To allow members of 8-Bit Software limited access to the internet.
? To allow 8-Bit Software members to send and receive Email.
? To allow members of 8-Bit Software to occasionally download specific items of
software that they may require.
Initially EBTEL will initially consist of:
Master 512 with 1 megabyte upgrade Twin 3.5" 5.25" disc drive Monitor Hard Disc
Drive (30 megabytes) Modem Telephone line
These items will be situated at 8BS HQ (17 Lambert Park Road Hedon)
The modem will be connected to 01482 896868. The modem is the only item of
hardware that is needed, 8BS already has the rest of the required equipment.
EBTEL Operating Hours
Initially the system will be switched on when the hardware and telephone line
is free for use by EBTEL. I envisage this as probably being for short periods
on an evening, also, possibly during the daytime. This will depend upon the
level of support as I have to consider the running costs of leaving the
equipment switched on for long periods.
8BS already has two telephone lines (one for private use). The 8BS line is in
constant use for other 8BS related activities. It will therefore always be a
matter of juggling the time for EBTEL with other considerations. If support
becomes strong enough (a situation I do not envisage), then 8BS could purchase
a further line to allow EBTEL to be left switched on permanently. If this
situation arose, further hardware would have to be acquired also. A full set of
equipment (listed above) would be needed. A Master 128 would be quite
sufficient. The only item that would possibly cause a problem to acquire would
be a hard drive as these are few and far between.
Rules of Operation and Membership of EBTEL
Chris Richardson at 8BS HQ is the EBTEL manager. Only members of EBTEL will be
allowed access to the EBTEL system. Only 8BS members will be allowed to become
members of EBTEL. Membership of EBTEL will be at the discretion of the EBTEL
manager. Once a member of EBTEL the member will receive a disc of software and
password allowing access to the system. Continued membership of EBTEL is at the
discretion of the EBTEL manager.
EBTEL members will receive a FREE disc of software that they will not copy or
pass on to anyone else. The disc is uniquely identifiable by direct inspection
of the catalogue of the disc (*.) and by the EBTEL security system. The disc
contains all of the software required to access and use the EBTEL system. The
disc is NOT Public Domain and remains the property of 8BS. The manager of EBTEL
can request the return of the EBTEL software at any time.
? Mode 7 throughout.
? Preparation of messages off-line using a text editor similar to the 8BS
messaging system. There are 3 distinct types of message. One being the 8BS
message intended for the 8BS magazine, another the EBTEL message for collection
off the EBTEL system by another EBTEL member and the last being text suitable
? Preparation of upload of software off-line. Software for inclusion in 8BS
magazines can be uploaded to 8BS via EBTEL. The software submitted in this
manner must follow the guidelines laid down in TBI-00 for submission of
? Preparation of download of software off-line. Certain items of software may
be placed on the EBTEL system for download. Software will be chosen by the
EBTEL Manager and placed into the download directory of EBTEL dependent upon
? Simple menu driven operation. Menus are the same style as those of 8BS
? Simple selection of messages/software for upload and download in a session,
then connection to EBTEL to carry out the selected operation without further
intervention in an attempt to keep on line time down to a minimum.
? A call back system to allow EBTEL members in credit to be called from EBTEL
if the rate is cheaper (it occasionally is due to free access to Mercury from
the Hull area where EBTEL is presently situated).
? Security to reduce the risk of non members accessing the system.
? The EBTEL members EBTEL disc is uniquely identifiable by direct inspection of
the catalogue of the disc (*.) and by the EBTEL security system. The disc
contains all of the software required to access and use the EBTEL system.
? EBTEL members can access directly the following EBTEL system directories;
USER#.*** where # is the relevant user directory and ### is the user id of the
EBTEL member. This directory contains messages and files specific to that
particular member only. Both read and write is available the member is able to
see the contents of the directory. No sub directories are available from this
directory. The SOFTWARE.DOWNLOAD directory is also directly accessible by the
member as READ ONLY. The directory is visible to the member, access to sub
directories is allowed. The SOFTWARE.UPLOAD directories are only available for
write and cannot be seen by the member.
? The EBTEL system, is the property of 8BS. As such, no individual can claim
the right to ownership of the software which is NOT Public Domain.
? Changes may be made to the EBTEL software, updates will be issued free of
charge to members of EBTEL on the understanding that as soon as an update is
received, the disc containing the old version of EBTEL is immediately mailed
back to 8BS. Minor alterations to smaller parts of the EBTEL system may be
available for download on the EBTEL system. A current list of all programs and
current version numbers will be made available on EBTEL.
EBTEL System Directories EBTEL is situated on a Winchester hard drive. It
therefore runs in ADFS The directory containing the whole of the EBTEL system
Containing the following files:
Email One file containing uploaded messages for Email !Mesg Concatenated 8BS
message submitted for 8BS magazines
From the EBTEL directory are the following sub directories:
Users# Where # is a number between 1 and 20. See further breakdown System
Containing everything required to operate EBTEL. See further breakdown
Software.Upload# Where # is a number between 1 and 42 Software.Download
Containing anything including directories
The Users# directories contain: EBTEL messages for download by individual
The System directory contains: All files necessary for the operation of EBTEL
LOGONH Log on History
All records relating to members of EBTEL. The records will include passwords,
and account details.
Security and Accounts Removed from this article!
System Maintenance The EBTEL manager will use a series of menu driven utilities
to: Read/Edit the system data files.
The EBTEL Crash
Well, that was the idea. I knew that I would not have the time to program the
software required. Jonathan Harston volunteered to write the necessary
software. After a full year Jonathan had still not found time to complete the
task and so Jon Ripley and Andy Nelson volunteered to start again. Once more,
the volunteers discovered that they could not complete the task and so I
announced the demise of EBTEL to the eagerly waiting membership. I and a few
others were bitterly disappointed by this failure.
Bits of Kit Gathering And Selling
More than ever over the last couple of years, I started gathering bits of BBC
clutter with trips around the country gathering things to put in my loft.
How is 8BS Going?
I am nowhere nearly as busy with the club as I was 2 years ago. The job has
changed from wading through piles of post to a more sedate one. The article 'A
Month in The Life of 8BS' in an 8BS magazine described how really busy I was.
The magazine until issue 66 filled itself quite easily with just the right
amount of input. There is a slowing down of members joining, about 3 of 4 a
I want to help in gathering together BBC software and documentation to preserve
as much as possible. I would like to have a full collection of Acorn 8 bit
hardware, being a realist I know that there would be not enough room in my
house for it. I am still after an Acorn Atom though. The 8BS magazine will be
published as long as there is new material to put into it. Recently submissions
to the magazine have been falling off. It is that serious in fact that with
issue 66 I am seriously considering changing planned publication dates or even
stopping the magazine all together. Plenty of people want the magazine but very
few are bothering to submit stuff. 15/10/98 Issue 66 deadline day and I have
finished altering TBI-00 and all documentation around the place to allow for
the closing of the magazine part of 8BS. 8BS will continue to collect software
and supply discs from the PD library. 8BS will still provide support for BBC
users over the telephone, through the post and over the internet. 8BS 66 is
the last 8BS magazine disc.
All the people from the previous credits plus Gill my wife again for putting up
with all the phone calls and bits of BBC stuff scattered around the place.
John, my oldest son who can now strip, clean and repair a BBC at 20 paces
blindfolded. Paul Clucas who checks each issue out for spelling mistakes.
Robert Schmidt of the BBC Lives! for hosting many of the 8BS magazine back
issues. Mark Usher for helping me a lot. Crispin Boylan for his valuable input.
Steve Allsopp for helping with the catalogue info. Jonathan Harston for his
work on the menuing system. Steve Hanson of Superior software for donations of
stuff. Stuart McConnachie for his work on PCBBC, keep it up! Peter Davy for his
donation of equipment. Andy Nelson for his help. Peter Shaw for his donations