The Beeb@30 event held at ARM Holdings PLC on the 25th of March 2012 celebrated the BBC Micro computers official 30th birthday. I was lucky enough to attend the event as one of the Event Team and took along several of my Acorn related bits'n'bobs which you'll find throughout this site.
For me (and the rest of the Event Team) the Beeb@30 event started several weeks beforehand with preparation work including cleaning, servicing and building stuff to take along for the day. To that end, I cleaned up, tested and prepared David Moore's Hybrid Music System and my Versatile Laboratory Aid, my three Archimedes, a couple of BBC Micro's, a BBC Master 128 and all the accompanying disc drives, monitors and stands that I could lay my hands on.
The Hybrid kit was pretty straight forward to sort out for the day and it just needed a good wipe down and test. Unfortunately one of the Music 5000 synthesisers was found to be faulty and produced progressively more white noise the longer it stayed on. All the other Hybrid equipment however was flawless in operation.
The accompanying Hybrid Music 4000 keyboard again just needed a good wipe down to bring it up like new!
Below you can see most of the kit that I took with me that I'd been preparing over the previous two weeks. Friday night involved a lot of bubble wrap and boxing up of equipment ready for the journey in the morning. Most of the computers are hidden away in those "Really Useful" boxes for the trip to Cambridge which meant that this little lot...
... had to fit in here...
Yes, that's right I took six Acorn Computers, a VELA, four monitors (two of which were CRT's), a full Hybrid Music System including speakers, BeebSID, all the accompanying disc drives, power extensions and a rather large dual floppy drive monitor stand in a car with no boot! Fitting it all in was an exercise in logistical planning to say the least. Thankfully, once I'd arrived at ARM, I had access to a trolley so I was able to wheel all the kit into the building without too much fuss although it did take two fully loaded trips to get it all out of the car!
Setting up for the day wasn't too bad although the main atrium at ARM Holdings isn't really designed to have large amounts of computer equipment being plugged in everywhere. In the end, we ran 7 Acorn computers and all their monitors and peripherals from just two power outlets (which you can see behind the BeebSID below) and a rather large amount of multi-gang power extension leads.
Once everything was unpacked and connected, there was time for a short break before testing everything was still working after the journey and I snapped a shot of the machines I was looking after during the event the following day. Once I'd had a bit of a break, the testing started and everything went well apart from the A5000 on the end which had suffered a battery failure and needed to be reminded of it's CMOS settings in order that it would work for the day.
Over night, I stayed at the FourWentWays Travelodge on the A11 with the guys from Replay Events and Retro Software and Greg who was showcasing his BBC Micro with an ARM7 second processor. We ended up soldering flying leads back onto MMC boards, replacing the X2 caps in a BBC Micro B+ 128K machine that Dave Moore had brought along and paying a couple of slightly wonky machines some attention before getting some food followed by much needed sleep. Still, what's an evening in a Travelodge like without the odd bit of BBC Micro soldering going on to entertain everyone?
The day of the event finally arrived. After breakfast, we made our way back to ARM Holdings for a briefing and do our final preparations before the doors opened. Everyone was busy finalising their stands and checking the machines and doing the last few bits of tidying and cleaning to make the machines as good as they possibly could be. There was a quiet nervousness about the place with everyone that was involved working had to make sure the day would go as smoothly as everyone was hoping it would.
I couldn't possibly hope to describe the rest of the day other than to say it was a brilliant blur of anecdotes, talks, questions and answers, music, meeting people, chatting, educating and having some fun, beyond that, there are many talented people out there who've managed to put the event into words, pictures and video's and I've gathered together links for some of those blog posts and photo albums that cover the days proceedings and give you a small flavour of what went on. One thing's for sure, I won't be forgetting it anytime soon and I'd like to take the opportunity to thank everyone involved and to congratulate Simon Hewitt and his core team for creating such a special event and thanks for inviting me along to play too.
Several people captured plenty of video of the day and I've compiled a YouTube playlist of all of them for people to take a look at which is comprised of just over one hour and forty minutes of video covering the key points of the day.
So here's to the BBC Micro's 30th birthday, a computer that inspired a generation and whose legacy still inspires today. Happy Birthday!
NOTE: All the copyright for the photo's and videos and texts remains with their respective owners and/or publishers.
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