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    BBC BASIC remains a remarkable learning tool, and now it’s available everywhere / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 29 November - 18:42 · 1 minute

BBC Micro system, at medium distance, with full keyboard and case showing.

Enlarge / A vintage 1981 BBC Micro computer. Fun fact: it was rather tricky to determine which version of BBC Basic a Micro was actually running. (credit: Getty Images)

BBC Basic did a lot of things, and often quite well. During the early 1980s, it extended the BASIC languages with easier loop structures, like IF/THEN/ELSE, and ran faster than Microsoft's version. It taught an entire generation of Brits how to code, both in BASIC and, through an inline interpreter, assembly language. And it's still around to teach newcomers and anybody else—except it's now on far, far more platforms than a mail-order computer from the telly.

BBCSDL , or BBC Basic for SDL 2.0 , uses Simple DirectMedia Layer's OS abstraction to make itself available on Windows, x86 Linux, macOS, Raspberry Pi's OS, Android, iOS, and inside browsers through WebAssembly. Version 1.38a arrived in mid-November with quite a few fixes and niceties (as first noticed by Hackaday and its readers). On the project's website, you can see BBCSDL running on all these devices, along with a note that on iOS and in browsers, an assembler and a few other functions are not available, due to arbitrary code-execution restrictions.

BBCSDL, or BBC Basic for SDL 2.0, running on iOS devices, in graphical mode.

BBCSDL, or BBC Basic for SDL 2.0, running on iOS devices, in graphical mode. (credit: Richard Russell / R.T. Russell )

Richard Russell has been working on ports, interpreters, and other variations of BBC BASIC since 1983 , starting with interpreters for Z80 and Intel processors. By 2001, BBC BASIC for Windows was available with a graphical interface and was still compatible with the BBC Micro and Acorn computers from whence it came. BBCSDL has been in development since 2015, providing wider platform offerings while still retaining decent compatibility with BBC BASIC for Windows.

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    Egad! 7 key British PCs of the 1980s Americans might have missed / ArsTechnica · Friday, 24 March, 2023 - 11:00

A modified Sinclair ZX81 advertisement with color added in the background.


If you grew up in America, the early history of home computers in the UK might not be familiar to you. But Great Britain produced innovative personal computers that were as equally successful and influential as their counterparts from Atari, Commodore, and Radio Shack in the United States.

To gain insight into the 1980s British PC landscape, we consulted veteran British game developer Kevin Edwards , who helped us identify the top seven most significant platforms.

Having worked on over 40 games released between 1983 and 2022, Edwards developed titles such as Wolverine for the NES, Ken Griffy Jr. Baseball for the Super Nintendo, and many games in the Lego Star Wars series. In fact, his first game, Atomic Protector , debuted for the BBC Micro 40 years ago.

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    How an obscure British PC maker invented ARM and changed the world / ArsTechnica · Sunday, 20 December, 2020 - 14:00 · 1 minute

How an obscure British PC maker invented ARM and changed the world

Enlarge (credit: Jason Torchinsky)

Let's be honest: 2020 sucks. So much of this year has been a relentless slog of bad news and miserable events that it's been hard to keep up. Yet most of us have kept up, and the way most of us do so is with the small handheld computers we carry with us at all times. At least in America, we still call these by the hilariously reductive name "phones."

We can all use a feel-good underdog story right now, and luckily our doomscrolling 2020 selves don't have to look very far. That's because those same phones, and so much of our digital existence, run on the same thing: the ARM family of CPUs . And with Apple's release of a whole new line of Macs based on their new M1 CPU —an ARM-based processor—and with those machines getting fantastic reviews , it's a good time to remind everyone of the strange and unlikely source these world-controlling chips came from.

If you were writing reality as a screenplay, and, for some baffling reason, you had to specify what the most common central processing unit used in most phones, game consoles, ATMs, and other innumerable devices was, you'd likely pick one from one of the major manufacturers, like Intel. That state of affairs would make sense and fit in with the world as people understand it; the market dominance of some industry stalwart would raise no eyebrows or any other bits of hair on anyone.

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