With its collection of 18 vintage BBC Micros used to teach key STEM skills to thousands of students each year, The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) on the Bletchley Park campus wanted a unique and original way to celebrate this iconic computer’s 40th anniversary. Working with TNMOC, I created an audience experience honouring the machine and the ideals behind it.
The BBC Micro from the iconic Acorn Computers was created to fulfill the vision of the BBC’s Computer Literacy Project (CLP) in the 1980s: to raise the nation’s computer skills and liberate people through the power of computing. The BBC Micro shattered sales targets and turned kids, teens and adults into a generation of coders, creatives, scientists and entrepreneurs.
The BBC was intended as a practical and powerful machine for creatives of all flavours.
We therefore designed and implemented a multi-phased, year-long program of engagement that reflected those diverse audiences interests. These included: online games tournaments and a competition for young programmers and creatives to compose an original musical score for an imaginary BBC Micro computer game using the Raspberry Pi that was inspired by the Beeb. An anthology of oral histories talking to celebrities and a range every-day users on how the BBC Micro had inspired them and transformed their lives that we presented on TNMOC’s YouTube channel. And, finally, a chance to engage with three of the masterminds responsible for delivering the BBC Micro – Hermann Hauser, Sophie Wilson and Steve Furber – in a live audience event.
Our program engaged with thousands of visitors across the web and social media – those new to the BBC Micro, fans from back in the day, and followers of retro tech.