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The BBC Microcomputer System (BBC Micro)

BBC Micro - Getting Started

AKA, the Mickey Mouse Guide to the BBC Micro !


Using the BBC Micro as a "Newbie"

Having never used a BBC Micro back in the '80s, I'm finding it's taking a bit of getting used to! I decided to jot down a few learning's along the way that might help others save a little time, there's nothing here that isn't in the various manuals that are available for the BBC - but hey - who reads manuals! If you have more than a passing acquaintance with the Beeb, then these "factoids" will be obvious, but if not, read on . . . . . .

Let's start at the very beginning

A very good place to start

With "Retro" you begin with B-B-C !  . . . . .

OK, not quite at the beginning, I'll assume you have your Beeb connected to a TV/Monitor and disk drives and they are switched on and working.

Read Only Memory (ROM) Commands

When the system restarts, it displays "BBC Computer 32K", followed by a list of the installed option ROMs. Initially, my entry level Model B, just had the OS and BASIC ROMs installed, so just displayed "BASIC". Once my DFS upgrade kit was installed, the system also displayed "Acorn 1770 DFS".

From the ">" prompt, you can get a full display of the installed ROMs, including the Operating System (OS) ROM, along with their version numbers and physical position on the system board by entering "*HELP". Entering "*ROMS" will show the position that the ROMs occupy on the system board.

System Boot Display

>*HELP Display Output

>*ROMS Display Output

BBC Computer 32K
Acorn 1770 DFS
 DFS 2.26
SRAM 1.05
OS 1.20
Rom 13 :  (S ) DFS 2
Rom 12 :  ( L) BASIC
Detailed Help
Some of the ROMs have brief help displays built in which are accessed using, for example, *



Disk Drives

One of the first things that took a bit of figuring out was how to use my shiny "new" disk drive system. I bought a disk upgrade kit and a pair of plinth mounted drives from RetroClinic, one 5.25" and one 3.5" drive. These were both Double Sided / Double Density (DS/DD) drives but the way that the Beeb sees them is unusual - it accesses them as 4 drives. The first drive (5.25") appears as drives "0" and "2" and the second drive (3.5") as "1" and "3".

The 5.25" disk is switchable between 40 and 80 Tracks.

Formatting Disks

The first thing they you'll probably want to do is to prepare some blank disks for use, i.e., format them.



Using the drives with the Disk Filing System (DFS) ROM

There are link options (on the keyboard PCB) to set various system options, including the save/restore device, e.g., Tape or Disk. However, you can override the setting with an appropriate command

    e.g, > "*DISK "  (or "DISC") will set the BASIC save/restore target to the floppy disk system

So, how do you access the disks from BASIC?

Without getting into the detail of File I/O (the DFS manual is the best place to look for that information), the first thing that you'll probably want to do is to LOAD and SAVE from disk. It's not quite as easy as typing some like: SAVE A:"FILE>BAS", BBS BASIC has an arcane syntax for accessing the disks :-





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