Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 17th Dec 2012 13:45 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems "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." The Hacker News thread has links to more FPGA implementations of older home computers.
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Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Mon 17th Dec 2012 16:27 UTC
MOS6510
Member since:
2011-05-12

I will probably get modded down, but I'll say it anyway: I'd like to have one.

Reply Score: 6

RE: Comment by MOS6510
by henderson101 on Tue 18th Dec 2012 10:02 UTC in reply to "Comment by MOS6510"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

-1

Hahaha! Not really! ;-)

The BBC was very much the computer we used in schools in the 80's. I knew very few people with them as their home machines. One was the sons of my Senior School English teacher (Senior School == High School for American readers.) Then I had 2 friends with Electrons. Other than that 99% of people had either a ZX Spectrum model, a C64 or Amstrad CPC. Then Amiga and ST happened and the BBC computers were even more niche. The tail end of my school years (I was in 6th form college doing A-Levels - for Americans, the last two years of High school) we had Archimedes. But they were very niche. A couple of people owned them. My parents got one, but then my Mother used it for about 10 years after that (circa 1990) as she was in education (working with kids with learning difficulties and milt disabilities) and Arc's were still predominant till the late 90's.

Edited 2012-12-18 10:04 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Tue 18th Dec 2012 10:09 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by MOS6510"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

You can get a wide range of retro computers on-line (eBay and sorts), but they take up a lot of room.

The problem with emulators is, in my personal experience, the keyboard. Each computer had its own layout, its own special keys.

In this case you can use a standard keyboard, but you still need to learn which special keys are mapped to which standard key. Even then it distracts from the experience.

A friend of mine had/has an Electron, it is very well build. Acorn never sold very well in The Netherlands. A surprising number did have MSX computers.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by MOS6510
by henderson101 on Tue 18th Dec 2012 14:53 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by MOS6510"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

The main problem with the Electron was that it was a bit of a rush job. They replaced a whole load of discrete electronics with an ASIC and then lopped off mode 7. It had most of the "cool" I/O removed and really wasn't 100% compatible with BBC software.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Tue 18th Dec 2012 15:51 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by MOS6510"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

Hum, wasn't is supposed to be 100% compatible and be upgradable to a 'real' BBC?

I think it's still a very nice machine, a true home computer. It's a category of computers I really miss.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by MOS6510
by henderson101 on Fri 21st Dec 2012 12:14 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by MOS6510"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

No. AFAIK you *never* got mode 7, which was used in a lot of educational software. Mode 7 was aka as the "teletext" mode. Because they replaced a chunk of the guts with a custom ULA (ASIC) it was more like a "very good" BBC clone. It did almost everything, but not with absolute compatibility. The BBC emulator that came with RISCOS had better compatibility with software, for example.

There were modules you could add to an Electron to get most of the functionality of the BBC.. but by the time you'd spent all that money, you probably could have just got a BBC.

Reply Score: 2

This Is Fun
by Pro-Competition on Mon 17th Dec 2012 18:14 UTC
Pro-Competition
Member since:
2007-08-20

I love these projects, whether in hardware or software emulation. Both thresholds (CPUs powerful enough to emulate hardware, and FPGAs large enough to accommodate entire systems) have made amazing things possible.

It is not only fun to play with these old systems, but it puts into perspective where we are in computer history. And it's sometimes enlightening to discover/remember how we used to squeeze more out of less.

Reply Score: 5

RE: This Is Fun
by henderson101 on Tue 18th Dec 2012 10:05 UTC in reply to "This Is Fun"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

Sadly, I think he has more or less given up, but this was an amazing project: http://www.bigmessowires.com/plus-too/

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: This Is Fun
by zima on Wed 19th Dec 2012 14:33 UTC in reply to "RE: This Is Fun"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Other amazing ones: http://members.iinet.net.au/~daveb/simplex/ringhome.html - some using FPGAs, some going more old-school (I love Zusie and HRRG)

Edited 2012-12-19 14:35 UTC

Reply Score: 2

FPGas
by transputer_guy on Mon 17th Dec 2012 18:23 UTC
transputer_guy
Member since:
2005-07-08

Pretty neat.

I had a model B and all the paraphernalia, I'm amazed that anyone though can still remember all the nitty details in getting this old stuff working. I sold off the hardware but I still have all the old books for most of the languages that were sold for it.

Time for some Raspberry Pi tinkering, wonder if anyone has run a Beeb/QL/ZX emulator on it.

I really should also get more serious about me own FPGA project too.

Reply Score: 2

RE: FPGas
by Alfman on Mon 17th Dec 2012 23:00 UTC in reply to "FPGas"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

transputer_guy,

"I'm amazed that anyone though can still remember all the nitty details in getting this old stuff working."

Well, it's still within one life frame. I can still remember my early projects and probably will till I'm senile. It is still a part of *us*. I wonder what kind of emotions early computing will bring back to the generations who are more disconnected and never experienced the stuff first hand. The most popular computers/software may still have working models and get featured on the history channel. Most of our work will probably be forgotten to rot in attics for a few generations until there's no record.

Hollywood is eventually going to make a dramatic movie about early computing from the perspective of the (future) present. They're bound to fumble the facts so badly that it'd be hilariously inaccurate if any of us were to see it. I hope they don't try to draw too many facts from crap like "Hackers"...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: FPGas
by transputer_guy on Tue 18th Dec 2012 00:49 UTC in reply to "RE: FPGas"
transputer_guy Member since:
2005-07-08

My own kids are obsessed with computers as most are, as long as it is shiny bling and plays games on the web, its a computer. They have no concept of a computer being useful that isn't connected to the web. If I showed them whats inside, total disinterest, "whatever"!

It would be interesting to see how well the Colossus and Tommy Flowers is portrayed in a movie. The UK war secrecy didn't help any. In them olden days, a mag drum was hacked together from metal drums and tape heads lying around the work shop.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: FPGas
by zima on Tue 18th Dec 2012 20:14 UTC in reply to "RE: FPGas"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

The most popular computers/software may still have working models and get featured on the history channel. Most of our work will probably be forgotten to rot in attics for a few generations until there's no record.

And I wonder... appstores might actually harm preservation, software "lost" in them over time (after few upgrades of the platform), without physical copies...

Generally, I guess future generations will see our computers and software in a similar way we see early sound recordings, films, and their equipment. Which is to say - they will mostly not care.

Reply Score: 2

BBC Micro - best 8-bit computer ever
by rklrkl on Wed 19th Dec 2012 09:39 UTC
rklrkl
Member since:
2005-07-06

Although the BBC Micro was never as popular as certain other 8-bit micros primarily because of its price, it still remains the world's best 8-bit micro ever produced by some distance. Its OS, BASIC, keyboard and standard ports were never surpassed by any other 8-bit machine and it was one of the few 8-bit machines that were a pleasure to program on (I never owned a Spectrum, but I can imagine how painful that must have been to write code on).

For nostalgia fans with Android devices, can I point you to Beebdroid:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.littlefluffytoys.b...

A near perfect emulator with the ability to download and play most of the old BBC Micro classic games. Nothing like this on the Apple iTunes store you'll note!

Reply Score: 3

transputer_guy Member since:
2005-07-08

Wonderful, maybe 1 more incentive to buy an Android.

Given that the ARM chip was first emulated at the logic level on a Beeb, there is a wonderful irony there.

If you had the original Basic code model of the ARM chip, you could run it on a Beebdroid.

And you are right, it was the best ever 8bit PC, you could do Forth, BCPL, Lisp, besides the excellent Basic. Plus it gave us the TV show for which it was built.

Reply Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Plus it gave us the TV show for which it was built.

I wonder what it would be like to go through its episodes now... (preferably with at least a Beeb emulator right by?)

Reply Score: 2

henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

I dunno, the Apple 2 did as much. Because it had expansion ports built in, it was probably capable of more impressive add-ons.

BBC being best is very, very subjective.

Reply Score: 2