20 GOTO 10

5 July 2018

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Oh, I need to explore this! The BBC have published a whole load of content from the Computer Literacy Project of the 1980s and just looking through the listings is like a time capsule to my childhood. It was this project that created the BBC Micro and put them in all the schools where kids like me found we knew how to use them better than the teachers and took control of them. And now we run websites and internet companies and digital all-sorts, and this is where it all began. Thank you Computer Literacy Project!

So far I’ve got halfway through the first episode of Making the Most of the Micro which I remember being glued to when it was broadcast in 1983. I distinctly remember the first feature on a man with cerebral palsy who used a head pointer to write on his word processor. What I didn’t remember was that he actually spent a year writing his own word processor software, in BBC Basic, that would be simpler for him to use than an off-the-shelf program (he wanted to use shortcodes for common words) or that he’d used it to write his PhD thesis. What a star! His name was Richard Gomm and watching this again made me wonder what he had done since then, but searching for him only sent me on a loop back to the 1980s.  [Edited to add: I found his brother Mike Gomm is still involved with special needs technology, and mentions Richard in the past tense.]

You can also run lots of the code used in the programme on a BBC emulator, but for the full 1983 experience of getting your new computer to work (or playing with the ones in WHSmith (was it really? Or Dixons maybe?) on a Saturday afternoon) I recommend just this :D

(You’ll have to imagine the flickeriness of the aerial connection to a portable TV, I never had a monitor that fancy.)

[found via feeling listless]