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Buying a BBC Micro / Electron


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Been sniffing around these on eBay and a couple of FB groups after getting a strange desire to play one again and check out some of the many exclusives (mostly Superior Software stuff I guess).

There's so many models though, and I can't really remember the differences between them. I know the Electron and Beeb use different software, but is there any difference between all of the models of BBC that would be important to someone who just wants to play the old games?

Also anyone know if it's possible to load up games from an SD card or similar, I don't think I need a disk drive and collection of 5.25 floppies. 

Lastly - I remember them being fairly chunky beasts. The Electron is much more compact of course but are any of the BBC models a more manageable size than the others?

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The Model B is probably the way to go - you miss out on a few games enhanced for the Master and it's still a hefty bastard but it's not as big as a Master. Bare in mind you need a tape deck or an external disk drive too and if you get the external drive you need a machine with the disc controller ROM installed.

 

But if you don't want to go down the hardware route here's pretty much the entire systems catalogue from back in the day as well as modern homebrew stuff, including type ins from magazines, all playable in browser:

 

http://www.bbcmicro.co.uk/

 

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1 hour ago, matt0 said:

The Model B is probably the way to go - you miss out on a few games enhanced for the Master and it's still a hefty bastard but it's not as big as a Master. Bare in mind you need a tape deck or an external disk drive too and if you get the external drive you need a machine with the disc controller ROM installed.

 

But if you don't want to go down the hardware route here's pretty much the entire systems catalogue from back in the day as well as modern homebrew stuff, including type ins from magazines, all playable in browser:

 

http://www.bbcmicro.co.uk/

 

Sounds like a much cheaper and space-effective solution!

But I've done the emulator/browser stuff before, I'm on a bit of a "real hardware" trip at the moment as far as retrogaming goes. 

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10 minutes ago, Anne Summers said:

Sounds like a much cheaper and space-effective solution!

But I've done the emulator/browser stuff before, I'm on a bit of a "real hardware" trip at the moment as far as retrogaming goes. 

 

Brilliant! I'd love some 8 bit computer gear....I have fond memories of the Acorn. :)

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If you go for a BBC B make sure the person has replaced the caps in the psu. I bought mine out of the loft and it worked for 10 seconds then went pop. Easy fix and plenty of kits on ebay to sort them out. Just a warning. There are also card solutions for the games around here and there.

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14 hours ago, roobarb said:

What about an Archimedes? Bit of Zarch action?

I would love to get one at some point - as well as stuff like a Sinclair QL, Sam Coupe, one of the more obscure Amigas like a A3000 or A4000. None of these options are particularly cheap though! 

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The best Christmas of my entire life was the one where - out of the blue - my Dad told me he thought it was time I had a computer and asked what one I should get. I asked for an Acorn Archimedes A3010 (we had them in school, and we'd owned a BBC Micro in the 80s), but he went out and bought me an Amiga A1200 instead.

 

Now naturally I was absolutely over the moon - the Amiga was way better in all ways that mattered to a 14 year old, but there's a little bit of me that would still love one of those Archimedes.

 

Of course it probably wouldn't be quite so amazing anymore without that old guy in the IT department at school who used to copy Archimedes games onto blank floppies for us.

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We had one Archimedes at our school that no one was allowed to touch because even the "computer guy" (a maths teacher who was nominally in charge of the IT lab) didn't know how to load anything on it. 

Would like one now to mess around on but I think it's used would be limited - did it have any exclusive games or was it all just Amiga ports? I seem to remember it was said that it was theoretically more powerful than the Amiga but I don't know if it even had any games that used that extra power?

 

At the other end of the spectrum (and I don't mean ZX) - the Electron. Is there any reason to own one of these today, as far as I can remember it's games were mostly cut-down versions of Beeb games weren't they?

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5 hours ago, Zio said:

Of course it probably wouldn't be quite so amazing anymore without that old guy in the IT department at school who used to copy Archimedes games onto blank floppies for us.


and once he’s made a couple of copies of Zarch, then what?

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Just now, SeanR said:


and once he’s made a couple of copies of Zarch, then what?

 

He makes a copy of Arc Elite, obviously.

 

Seriously though, there were some decent ports of some Amiga games on the Archimedes - I used to hang around the computer lab after school playing Lotus 2 and Lemmings!

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1 minute ago, ScouserInExile said:

I've always fancied a classic BBC Micro purely as decoration for my office. I think they're a design classic. There's just something so very 80s about them. 


paired with a Microvitec Cub colour monitor, it’s a design classic

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On 02/11/2020 at 14:34, matt0 said:

The Model B is probably the way to go - you miss out on a few games enhanced for the Master and it's still a hefty bastard but it's not as big as a Master. Bare in mind you need a tape deck or an external disk drive too and if you get the external drive you need a machine with the disc controller ROM installed.

 

But if you don't want to go down the hardware route here's pretty much the entire systems catalogue from back in the day as well as modern homebrew stuff, including type ins from magazines, all playable in browser:

 

http://www.bbcmicro.co.uk/

 

Thanks for posting up that link! Never had a BBC Micro - just an Electron until earlier this year when I sold it along with lots of other retro kit.

 

Emulators are great for scratching the retro itch without having to have all the hardware laying around... Still have the mini Nintendo consoles though...

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There was several models of the BBC Micro basically:

  • BBC Micro Model A (16k)
  • BBC Micro Model B (32k) - basically became the base standard
  • BBC Micro Model B+ (64k)

Then there was the significantly upgraded new micros:

  • BBC Master 128 - (128k) the new standard
  • BBC Master Compact (a 128 but with a 3.5" disk drive built in, no cartridge ports, less ports)
  • BBC Master 512 - a 128 but with 512k and a co-processor that could run DOS programs

 

And there's a few other Master variants which were essentially addons for the 128.

 

I had a BBC Master 128.  Loved it.  Games like Stryker's Run was enhanced for it, and it was compatible with most of the regular BBC Micro Model B/B+ software (although I had a copy of Yie Ar Kung Fu that wasn't compatible, but if I managed to load up the intro program, omit some lines, then run this, I could get it working... with some corrupted graphics).

 

A bit of a biased suggestion but I reckon you're better off getting a BBC Master 128 as you will get the DFS filing system, ADFS filing system, and built-in document editor ("View") and spreadsheet program ("Viewsheet").

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1 hour ago, Smoothy said:

There was several models of the BBC Micro basically:

  • BBC Micro Model A (16k)
  • BBC Micro Model B (32k) - basically became the base standard
  • BBC Micro Model B+ (64k)

Then there was the significantly upgraded new micros:

  • BBC Master 128 - (128k) the new standard
  • BBC Master Compact (a 128 but with a 3.5" disk drive built in, no cartridge ports, less ports)
  • BBC Master 512 - a 128 but with 512k and a co-processor that could run DOS programs

 

And there's a few other Master variants which were essentially addons for the 128.

 

I had a BBC Master 128.  Loved it.  Games like Stryker's Run was enhanced for it, and it was compatible with most of the regular BBC Micro Model B/B+ software (although I had a copy of Yie Ar Kung Fu that wasn't compatible, but if I managed to load up the intro program, omit some lines, then run this, I could get it working... with some corrupted graphics).

 

A bit of a biased suggestion but I reckon you're better off getting a BBC Master 128 as you will get the DFS filing system, ADFS filing system, and built-in document editor ("View") and spreadsheet program ("Viewsheet").

I used to love Strykers Run, and especially the sequel. I remember when I first played it. It was the game that made me realise the Beeb was actually capable of holding its own as a games machine, alongside the C64 and Speccy, as all I'd seen before was the educational stuff we played at school. 

 

How did the Master improve the graphics, by the way? Was it more colours on screen/higher res?

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I can't remember, I only played it on the BBC Master.  That said, I vaguely remember that while the BBC Micro had screen "modes" 0-7, the BBC Master had alternate "modes" which freed up more memory, so it is possible that the game used these alternate modes to have more memory for more screen elements.

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