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BBC Basic Editor (bbcmic.ro)
190 points by bpierre 4 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 34 comments

Oh the memories!

I haven’t coded since then and am about to start again, I wish learning now was as easy as control break to start again.

We squeezed everything out of basic then started learning assembly.

We fucking owned our school econet making a port scanner that polled station 100 (the teacher admin station) to eventually get his password for *I AM SYS.

Password was paramecium!!! It took days to poll.

Then we got a copy of the advanced user guide for BBC Master and became gods.

My best mate and hacking buddy went by Bruteus, I was Apollo!

Bruteus ? You on hacker news?!

We then used to change our station number to 100 whenever we logged in to do naughtiness. (?&d22=100) It drove the admin crazy reading logs or the printer spool we’d randomly trigger.

Our opsec was poor though and we boasted to the wrong person who snitched.

Suspended from school and banned from all networked machines.

Still think they should have brought us in to volunteer instead.

A physics teacher actually let us use his non networked computer because he saw we had talent and interest and he tried to harness it. He was awesome. He put us in charge of downloading the NOAA data to do weather maps via cassette tape!

Then when the admins car had left we had a sneaky super long eco net cable we made that we hung out of a window to the floor below to a network socket and resumed our pwnage.

Man we were little arseholes!

  > ...let us use his non networked computer...
  > ...put us in charge of downloading the NOAA data...
I hope that my non networked machines are incapable of downloading data!

It was literally radio! Record the audio on a tape recorder load into computer like a game.

That's terrific. Seriously, you should write up a story or blog post about this stuff. It's right up HN's alley. I thought that I had a diverse hobby and career in tech, but I was never downloading off the radio!

BBC BASIC was/is the wonderful lovechild of BASIC and BCPL, and was a joy to code in back in the day. Significant amounts of the regular user applications that weren't CPU bound for RISC OS were coded in it, and most of the rest were coded with it, as it had a built-in multipass assembler.

To whoever doesn't know BCPL: It's a language that is the predecessor of B (which itself was the predecessor of C), like a flavor of C without types or structs (words instead), developed by Martin Richards for system programming: https://www.bell-labs.com/usr/dmr/www/bcpl.html

EDIT: The predecessor of BCPL was CPL, the Cambridge Programming Language.

BCPL original purpose was to Bootstrap CPL, it wasn't just a predecessor.

The UNIX world is built on a language whose original purpose was to bootstrap a compiler and move on.

That's the thing about stuff like that: it's sometimes unreasonably effective and ends up replacing the thing it was meant to be a step towards.

Previous 50 comment discussion from Nov 2020 with some author talk:


Wow, that's really impressive. The VirtualBeeb feature is kind of mind-blowing too! I did not expect to see everything working in interactive 3D on top of all the rest.

...and the 'Elite' disc seems to be in the drive by default!

Right On Commander!

Yeah that is dangerously good. Now I shall be off to eBay to buy a real one again!

it's lovely. the sound of the keys...

Sorry, don't get what this is about, and I'm an ex BBC Micro user. Enlighten me?

There's an explanation here: https://www.bbcmicrobot.com/owlet-test2.html

> BBC Micro bot runs your tweet on an 8-bit computer emulator. Below is output from 1000 programs that different users submitted to the bot. Click any to see source.

I've been playing with the editor and seeing the effects. It's pretty fun but can someone explain to me like I'm 5 and fill me in on what this is ?

BBC is the British broadcasting channel in the UK for me, and their 80/90's graphics were pretty much the same!?

It's an emulation environment for the BBC Micro[0], a popular home computer distributed by the BBC in the early 1980s. There's a long history of /why/ the BBC was involved in producing computers, but the short version is that the BBC wanted to increase computer literacy in the UK and decided the best way of doing that was to create their own machine (partnered with private industry).

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_Micro

Also, BBC BASIC was developed by Sophie Wilson who later designed ARM processor architecture which we use everywhere today.

Wilson says it took one week from a design in her head, to design circuits, make the circuits, build prototype hardware and program it http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7307636.stm. Looks like they had a team of 4 people. That's incredible.

I doubt I shall ever again have such a feeling of warping into the future as I got when moving from coding 6502 assembler on the Beeb to ARM-2 on the Archimedes. Suddenly there were enough registers. And they were all general purpose: use for arithmetic, use as an index, do whatever you need to. And all the instructions were conditional; hardly needed branches. And the memory map was flat. And everything was 32-bit. And no weird operand modes. And the best Beeb feature was still there: the assembler was still built-in to BBC Basic.

Unbelievable that ARM1 was only 25k transistors, when an 8086 was nearly 30k. The efficient use of resources was phenomenal.

ARM64 (AArch64) ripped out a lot of the original design ideas.

No conditional execution, and the program counter is no longer directly addressable.

This does increase performance, at the cost of code density (no thumb instructions either).

Fujitsu's ARM supercomputer was the first that I'd heard of removing all 32-bit support, but mainline designs are about to do the same with phones.

And if you're interested in that watch the movie :-)


Micro men, story of the zx spectrum vs the bbc

Thanks! I was looking for something to play with over the weekend! Being an 80's baby I'm surprised I've never heard of it!

The language shipped on a computer the BBC released. This should fill in the gap: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_Micro

The BBC did not release the BBC Micro. Acorn designed, built, released and sold it.

You should have heard of them: Acorn is the original "A" in ARM.

The BBC wanted to promote computer literacy in the UK, so intended to run TV and radio series, magazines, etc. It wanted a high-end user-programmable home computer that would be very expandable, with the priorities being a good BASIC, fairly fast, and a wide range of ports... rather than affordable (cf. ZX Spectrum) or a videogames machine (cf. Commodore VIC20 & C64, Atari 8-bits).

It got it. For a while UK schools and universities ran almost entirely on BBC Micros. They weren't so common in the home as they were about 3-4x the price of a ZX Spectrum or C64.

Acorn evaluated various chips for its planned next-gen machine, and discarded all of them as being too expensive, not powerful enough, etc. This included the Motorola 680000, the Intel 80186, the WDC 65C816, the NatSemi 32016 and others.

So it designed its own: the Acorn RISC Machine, or ARM for short.

It's now the best-selling CPU in the world by about 2 orders of magnitude, so I reckon you've probably heard of it.

Based on the package.json, this seems like a reskinned Monaco plus some bespoke extensions

The share code didn't fit in a tweet. What am I missing here?

The tweet comes first.

> BBC Micro bot runs your tweet on an 8-bit computer emulator.


Is basic always this inscrutable? Not a great intro example.

It's not the best general example, but I'm curious why it was selected. I was wondering if it was selected as a nod to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Furber given that he's from Manchester and was involved with original BBC Micro. Many UK folks would get the Joy Division reference, but they are a bit more of a niche globally.

Oh my gosh; this is a truly awesome hack!

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