Domesday Project Disc (1986) by The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)The National Museum of Computing
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Here for a short visit? Our 'Micro Milestones' highlight key parts of this story. If you want to know more, check out our virtual exhibition panels video at the end of the story
Micro Milestone, 1979: British industry left behind?
Publicity surrounding the microcomputer and an apparent lack of government awareness/support, sparked fear British industry would be left behind. The BBC's Education Department proposed a largescale 'Computer Literacy Project' to teach the British public how to use computers.
Micro Milestone, 1981: Introducing BBC BASIC
To be successful, the project needed a high level standardised programming language. The Department of Trade and Industry partnered with British computer manufacturers to produce 'Adopted BASIC (Beginners’ All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) for Computers' - ABC for short.
Micro Milestone, 1981: The BBC Micro emerges
In February 1981, Acorn Computers Ltd won the contract to manufacture the computer which laid the foundations for the BBC Micro. Versatility was key; the Micro needed to run a variety of applications, include sound, colour graphics and the ability to control external devices.
Micro Milestone, 1981: A cutting edge computer
BBC BASIC allowed proper structured programs to be written and the hardware was fast. It was expandable, including a second processor giving a speed boost or running software for other computers. An innovative teletext decoder could download software sent by television signal.
Micro Milestone, 1982: A TV star
The BBC Micro made its first TV appearance in 1982 on the BBC's 'The Computer Programme' series. In 1983, 'Making the Most of the Micro' demonstrated how the machine could perform various tasks. It was enormously successful, seen by almost 1 in 5 of the adult population.
Micro Milestone, 1984: A tool for learning
The BBC continued to produce computing/technology themed programmes. In 1984, 'Micro Live' was awarded Technology Programme of the Year. Computers had now become critical in children’s education and the government funded the BBC Micro for use in schools.
Micro Milestone, 1984 - 86: The conqueror and computers?
1986 marked the 900th anniversary of William the Conqueror's Domesday Book. BBC TV Producer Peter Armstrong proposed an extraordinary multimedia modern day Domesday survey, taking advantage of the mass interest in microcomputing and showcasing the latest technology.
Micro Milestone, 1984 -86: Life on a laserdisc
New laserdisc technology allowed thousands of frames (comprised of maps, photographs, text and data) to be held on a single disc. Schools and volunteers from communities across the country were invited to submit a glimpse into their everyday lives, creating the 'Community Disc.'
Micro Milestone 1984 - 86: A survey in their own words
The BBC Micro was an essential component of this project. In each community data was typed onto a BBC Micro running the Domesday Project software, saved to a floppy disc/cassette and posted back to the BBC. When combined, this created an electronic exhibition of Iife in the UK.
Micro Milestone, 1984 - 86: Technology, but at a cost
A 'National Disc' combined formal data from institutions and images submitted by the public in a national photographic competition. However, the extortionate cost of the equipment to view the discs (up to £5000) meant that most survey participants never saw the finished product.
Micro Milestone, 2011: A second chance
In 2011, the BBC launched 'Domesday Reloaded'. For the first time, the contents of the Community Disc were made available online. The public were able to contribute new images and text which would be published alongside the originals.
BBC Micros in the Classroom at The National Museum of Computing (1) (2020) by The National Museum of ComputingThe National Museum of Computing
The BBC Micro at TNMOC
TNMOC has a suite of operational BBC Micros which are used in the Education Programme. Today, programming languages are largely hidden from users; thus, the BBC Micro remains crucial for providing the next generation with an understanding of how a computer programme works.
The BBC Computer Literacy Project Virtual Exhibition (2021) by The National Museum of ComputingThe National Museum of Computing