This particular BBC Model B computer was my very first computer.

My original BBC Micro dating from November 1982

High-res photo available

Debenhams on The Moor in Sheffield

It was manufactured on the 31st of October in 1983 and is 38 years old. It was bought by my parents as a joint birthday and Christmas present for that year from Debenhams on "The Moor" in Sheffield.

This is the computer that allowed me to travel the stars, trading and fighting my way to the next planet and the next galaxy for the very first time, playing ELITE. It sounds cheesy but it was a seminal moment in my life!

This machine also played a major part in my education, and I learnt to manipulate fractions, spell, and generally think and use my mind more than I ever did before using some of the fantastic software that was available for the computer. I'm a natural problem solver and programming is a fantastic way to a) solve problems and b) create more problems. Just think, as a 10 year old I was writing my own art package and I was figuring things out out like how to screen dump a MODE 2, 8 colour image to cassette! How many 10 year olds are writing software like that these days? Not many I'll wager!

In the shot below, you can see the Issue 7 screen print on the motherboard and some of the upgrades including the RetroClinic 1770 floppy disc controller, the 68B54P ACIA chip powering the Econet interface on the left and finally on the right, the left hand edge of the Watford Electronics Solderless 12 ROM Board.

The motherboard is screen printed with the issue number

Repair/Change History

Between Oct 2010 and Jul 2011 this BBC Micro has had more upgrades, soldering work and general hardware TLC than it has had in the previous 27 years of its life. The machine started out life as a cassette only system and remained unmodified until October 2010 when, in a fit of nostalgia, I woke it from its slumber and fired her up for the first time in a couple of years. After about a week of playing ELITE and GHOULS and a few other games, I had this terrible sinking feeling as I started to smell the smell of burning electricals and immediately turned it off. After stripping the machine down and tracking the scent of burning bonfire toffee (That's what it smells like to me), I found the culprit which was one of the X2 capacitors in the PSU. After doing a bit of homework, I realised that the problem was common and easily solved so within 3 days of my beeb going "POP", it was up and running as good as new!

Since the first repair in October 2010, the machine has been upgraded quite significantly and currently sports several add ons...

As you can probably guess from the photo, it's got a few extra ROMs on board now including the Advanced Teletext ROM v2.5 (hence the keystrip) and it's this machine that is hooked up to my Acorn Teletext Adapter which I use to read the news on an almost daily basis. That is, until the 21st of September 2011 when they switch off the Analogue TV signal in my area and Teletext access will be lost forever as part of the U.K.'s Digital Switchover programme.

In January 2012, the display began to show signs of an overheating Video ULA (Ferranti chip) after a few hours of use. The symptoms of this particular issue present themselves as "twinkling" characters and graphics when viewing screen modes from 0 to 6. The Video ULA was replaced with a later VTi 2069 Video Processor which does not require a heat sink to resolve the problem.

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BBC Micro maintenance

Acorn BBC Micro Manuals

Whilst the BBC Micro Service Manual is useful, RetroClinic produce a fully revised and updated Service Manual that covers the BBC Micro A/B,B+,Master and Master Compact which you can usually find for sale on ebay.