What is the average age on here??

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Coeus
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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by Coeus » Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:30 pm

sweh wrote:
firthmj wrote:Not sure it is possible to access Stardot from a BBC (go on, prove me wrong!), so I think the answer must be that everyone does!
I wonder how well lynx on a VT-100 would display stardot. Hmm. 'Cos then a Beeb with a good terminal ROM and a modem dialing into an ISP which still supports dialup and gives a unix shell... e.g. Panix in New York.
Interestingly the way the VDU driver works is pretty much like a terminal, though not a VT100. It is as if the BBC micro is a terminal and a computer in the same box. Unix had a system to adapt to the control codes for different terminals. IIRC the database of control codes was termio on SYSV and termcap on BSD. These enabled an application to work with things like "move up a line" and the backend would send the appropriate code to the terminal. Then there was a library, curses, on top of that that let you work with a virtual screen, maintained a copy of what the user's terminal should have on screen, and would send a concise set of differences to bring the user's terminal up to date. A bit like a pre-cursor to MPEG but for text.

So you could write a termcap/termio entry for the BBC VDU driver (unless someone has already done it) and then all that would be needed at the BBC end is a small piece of code to copy RS424 to OSWRCh and OSRDCH to RS423.

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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by Coeus » Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:09 pm

joachim wrote:
jgharston wrote:It always felt that the natural time to have encountered BBCs and become used to programming them was at school in 1982-1985 or so, which would result in you being 45-50 now.
Oh, everyone feels that the way they did it is the only natural way. I encountered BBCs — and wrote my terrible BASIC programs — at infant school in 1982–1985, so I'm not yet 40.
Indeed I am one of the bunch that was at secondary school when the home computer started to become a reality. I started secondary school in 1980 and I think it was during that first year that a maths teacher, who had to be close to retirement, had a XZ80 which we did very simple things on including the guess a number game that uses the binary search algorithm. I don't know if this guy had his ear to ground more than most and could foresee micros taking off or whether it was just a hobby but IIRC this was before the BBC had screened any of their TV programmes on the micro. It was seeing the XZ80 that made me pester my parents for a computer and, by the time I succeeded, the XZ81 was Sinclair's current model. He then upgraded to an Atom and sometime later I upgraded to the BBC Micro.

I had no experience of micros in primary schools. When I was in primary school the height of new technology was a transistorised colour TV with a push-button tuner for watching the schools broadcasts. That had to be live, too, as the primary school had no VCR. We also listened to some radio broadcasts on an old valve radio that had a distribution facility with speakers in each classroom. I am guessing this was probably the 100V line system but I can't be sure.

As for starting to program, I think we did examine the programs behind the simple number games on the XZ80 and Atom but I also remember reading the user guide and trying things out, typing in programs from magazines and working out how they worked etc. Like most things, I think, you don't start off a master but if you're interested enough to persevere you improve.
tautology wrote:I'm just the wrong side of 40; but we saw our first beeb in the last couple of years of primary school (only the one for the whole school) - though this was in deepest, darkest Yorkshire (full of inertia for change: I still remember doing maths exercises in £'s, shillings and pence, even though currency was decimalised years before I was born). My class was one of those that had articles on the Domesday book. (I'm also pretty certain my mother is in one of the pictures.)
Reminds me of the comment supposedly made by the Mayor of New York at the time of Alexander Graham Bell's demonstration of the telephone in response to those who saw no use for it when he was supposed to have said "On the contrary, I can see a time when every town will have one!"
tautology wrote:In secondary school, there was only one room of BBC Bs, with a manky old 380Z at the end. Later the school got more computers: a Master and Torch in the CDT technology and a room of master for business studies, which had, gasp, a modem!
We had a 380Z too. They were older than the BBC micro so it had probably been around for a few years but the casing and keyboard both seemed to be built to withstand lots of abuse so lasted well. Then we got 480Zs at school which seemed like RMs equivalent to the BBC presumably put together after the BBCs started to appear in schools, i.e. their market as, at the time of the BBC's commissioning, they had effectively said "you're having a laugh".

So my choice of the BBC micro wasn't due to being exposed to it at school but because I had to the bug, was looking to upgrade, and the BBC was recommended by the father of a friend of school who worked for ICL.

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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by sweh » Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:18 am

Coeus wrote:Unix had a system to adapt to the control codes for different terminals. IIRC the database of control codes was termio on SYSV and termcap on BSD.
"terminfo", and it's still around...eg on Linux:

Code: Select all

% infocmp | head
#       Reconstructed via infocmp from file: /usr/share/terminfo/s/screen
screen|VT 100/ANSI X3.64 virtual terminal,
        am, km, mir, msgr, xenl,
        colors#8, cols#80, it#8, lines#24, ncv@, pairs#64,
        acsc=++\,\,--..00``aaffgghhiijjkkllmmnnooppqqrrssttuuvvwwxxyyzz{{||}}~~,
        bel=^G, blink=\E[5m, bold=\E[1m, cbt=\E[Z, civis=\E[?25l,
        clear=\E[H\E[J, cnorm=\E[34h\E[?25h, cr=^M,
        csr=\E[%i%p1%d;%p2%dr, cub=\E[%p1%dD, cub1=^H,
        cud=\E[%p1%dB, cud1=^J, cuf=\E[%p1%dC, cuf1=\E[C,
        cup=\E[%i%p1%d;%p2%dH, cuu=\E[%p1%dA, cuu1=\EM,
So you could write a termcap/termio entry for the BBC VDU driver (unless someone has already done it) and then all that would be needed at the BBC end is a small piece of code to copy RS424 to OSWRCh and OSRDCH to RS423.
In the late 80s, the Oxford Clarendon Physics Lab had a room with two High Level Hardware Orion computers, which ran a BSD4.2 based OS. The terminals were all BBC Micros running UTE5 ("Unix Terminal Emulator", written by Dr Clive Rodgers) from ROM. From memory this ROM was pretty dumb and just passed through escape sequences unchanged. So, yes, the termcap entry on those machines did, pretty much, just expose the relevant VDU calls.

(There was also a method of escaping from the ROM into BASIC and having input connected to the serial port; I forget how... but one clever person used this to create a small file loader app and we could download games like MrEE from files stored on the Unix machine :-))
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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by MikeKee » Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:02 pm

I'm 55.

I was a Primary School teacher from 1987-1998 so was around when Beebs were being used in the classroom and then the Archimedes coming in.

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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by crj » Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:28 am

sweh wrote:
Coeus wrote:Unix had a system to adapt to the control codes for different terminals. IIRC the database of control codes was termio on SYSV and termcap on BSD.
"terminfo", and it's still around...eg on Linux:
From the RISCiX /usr/share/lib/termcap :

Code: Select all

bz|bt100|Master 128 ANSI mode - see also sx:\
        :cr=^M:do=^J:nl=^J:bl=^G:co#80:li#25:cl=50\E[;H\E[2J:\
        :le=^H:bs:am:cm=5\E[%i%d;%dH:nd=2\E[C:up=2\E[A:\
        :ce=3\E[K:cd=50\E[J:\
        :rf=/usr/lib/tabset/vt100:\
        :so=\EPVDU17,129,17,0\E\134:\
        :se=\EPVDU17,128,17,1\E\134:\
        :to=\EPVDU17,129,17,0\E\134:\
        :te=\EPVDU17,128,17,1\E\134:\
        :kl=\E[D:kr=\E[C:kd=\E[B:ku=\E[A:kh=\E[;H:\
        :is=\E[>0l:ta=^I:sr=\EM:vt#3:

bbcvdu80x32|acorn0|BBC VDU Driver Mode 0:\
        :li#32:co#80:am:cl=^L:bs:cm=^_%r%.%.:up=^K:ho=^^:bl=^G:bw:\
        :ce=^W^H^E^F\200\200\200\200\200\200:\
        :so=^W^Q^E\200\200\200\200\200\200\200:\
        :se=^W^Q^E\200\200\200\200\200\200\200:\
        :sb=^W^G^A^B\200\200\200\200\200\200:\
        :sf=^W^G^A^C\200\200\200\200\200\200:\
        :is=^C^F^D^O^V\200:
bbcvdu|acorn12|Acorn VDU Driver Mode 12:\
        :li#32:co#80:am:cl=^L:bs:cm=^_%r%.%.:up=^K:ho=^^:bl=^G:bw:\
        :ce=^W^H^E^F\200\200\200\200\200\200:\
        :so=^Q^O:\
        :se=^Q^G:\
        :sb=^W^G^A^B\200\200\200\200\200\200:\
        :sf=^W^G^A^C\200\200\200\200\200\200:\
        :is=^C^F^D^O^V^L:
Those might or might not be useful to people.

My own recollection is that bbcvdu80x32 runs into significant difficulty with the Beeb's tendency to scroll when you put a character in the bottom right corner of the screen, rather than waiting for the first character of the next line. Command-line telnet on an Archimedes benefited considerably from a judicious VDU23,16,1,254| , and that probably works on the Master as well. But frankly it was still flaky enough that you'd be foolish not to use !vt220 instead.

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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by Coeus » Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:39 pm

crj wrote:
sweh wrote:
Coeus wrote:Unix had a system to adapt to the control codes for different terminals. IIRC the database of control codes was termio on SYSV and termcap on BSD.
"terminfo", and it's still around...eg on Linux:
Indeed, writing the in the past tense really meant this was something I used in programs at one point before GUIs and then web-based applications became more common, not that the feature had been removed.
crj wrote:My own recollection is that bbcvdu80x32 runs into significant difficulty with the Beeb's tendency to scroll when you put a character in the bottom right corner of the screen, rather than waiting for the first character of the next line. Command-line telnet on an Archimedes benefited considerably from a judicious VDU23,16,1,254| , and that probably works on the Master as well. But frankly it was still flaky enough that you'd be foolish not to use !vt220 instead.
Interesting.

I' also interested to note the 200 (octal) bytes in the BBC VDU sequences. I assume these are actually intended to act as NULs so the entry relies on something stripping the eighth bit.

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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by crj » Sat Jan 06, 2018 8:06 pm

Well, one of them is doing an actual honest-to-goodness MODE 128. (-8
The others are unused VDU23 parameters, which are defined(?) to be ignored rather than must-be-zero. I'm not sure why they used \200 when they could have used something simpler like 'x'. I'm inferring that termcap treats \0 specially...

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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by sweh » Sat Jan 06, 2018 9:43 pm

Strings in C are just a pointer to characters ("char *") terminated by NUL; they're not counted. So a string "hello\0there\0everyone" will be stored as "hello\0there\everyone\0" but when you try to read it then you'll just get back "hello".

From my old SunOS4 manpage for termcap.5

Code: Select all

       If it is necessary to place a NUL character in a string  capability  it
       must  be  encoded  as \200.  (The routines that deal with termcap use C
       strings and strip the high bits of the output very late, so that a \200
       comes out as a \000 would.)
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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by crj » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:52 am

Hmm. That would pre-date 8-bit-transparent links to terminals, I suspect. (-8

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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by David1664 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:23 am

42.

(About the same number of times I've watched Star Wars: A New Hope)

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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by GadgetUK164 » Tue Jun 26, 2018 1:14 pm

AGE >=1 AND AGE <45
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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by Elminster » Tue Jun 26, 2018 2:50 pm

Not sure I have added mine on here before > 44 < 46 in the year of 2018

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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by colonel32 » Tue Jun 26, 2018 5:16 pm

My average age is 50.

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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by richmond62 » Tue Jun 26, 2018 6:14 pm

I'm 56.

Started learning MINIFORTRAN via Hollerith cards and the GPO when I was 13 (1975).

Started learning FORTRAN IV via Hollerith cards and the GPO when I was 14 (1976).

Started learning BASIC on a Research machine 380Z when I was 15 (1977).

Started learning PASCAL V when I was 22 (University of Durham, blind terminals somewhere 'orrible underground, in 1984).

Brought my first BBC (Master Compact) in 1989 in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.

Brought my first BBC Model B in 2017! :D

Wondering about buying myself a high-chair and a sippy cup . . . .
Last edited by richmond62 on Tue Jun 26, 2018 6:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by Soruk » Wed Jul 25, 2018 3:21 pm

I'm &2B... or not &2B, that is the question?

Well, maybe I really am 43.
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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by dhg2 » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:29 pm

I might be the youngest person here, I'm only 30. My dad bought a BBC Micro model B some time in the 80s, and it remained our only computer until I was about 5 years old, when we got an A3010. We used Acorn computers until 1998 when we got a Windows PC.

I remember I spent a lot of time playing public domain / magazine disc games written in BASIC, and I often enjoyed looking at the LIST and deleting or editing random lines to see what would happen, though I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I also remember when we got the A3010, I was a bit sad to see that BBC Micro was disconnected and moved aside to make way for it. Though of course I was also excited about the new computer.

Regrettably I never learned basic when I was young, I only really learned it about two years ago when I got interested in Acorn computers again, got our old BBC micro out of the roof & replaced the capacitors (with help from stardot), spent a lot of time playing with BeebEm and arcem, reading this forum and riscosopen.org, etc.
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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by Cosmo » Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:03 pm

46 here.

2018 (!) i got my first BBC Master. Acorn as a brand was never popular in FInland, so that's something i wanted to take a look of. Surprised how sophisticated it is really. Now have Master and Model B.
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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by SmellyGeekBoy » Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:33 pm

I'm 34. My first computer was an Acorn Electron, then we had an Atari ST. I grew up using the BBC computers at school, of course.

I'm into old computers, mainly Atari stuff but have recently got into Acorn with the purchase of a BBC B and then an Archimedes A305. I like buying old beaters and restoring / upgrading them to their full potential, and of course keeping them out of landfill. My wife is actually generally supportive (especially when I manage to sell things for more than I paid, although selling is a rare occurence). :D

I do all my own upgrades, repairs, fault diagnosis, soldering, sawing, spraying, drilling, hammering, and whatnot...

It's good being on here around the people who worked with this stuff when it was new, I try to absorb as much knowledge as I can and archive things away in the hope that these things can be kept alive. They just don't make this stuff anymore!
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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by SmellyGeekBoy » Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:36 pm

Cosmo wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:03 pm
Surprised how sophisticated it is really.
Agreed, speaking from the point of view of someone who's passionate about restoring and using old computers it's pretty amazing just how far ahead of their time Acorn were. The BBC blows most other 8-bits out of the water and then ARM was light years ahead of the 68000 and 8088-based home computers of the time. I wonder where it all went wrong?
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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by Elminster » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:11 pm

SmellyGeekBoy wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:36 pm
Cosmo wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:03 pm
Surprised how sophisticated it is really.
Agreed, speaking from the point of view of someone who's passionate about restoring and using old computers it's pretty amazing just how far ahead of their time Acorn were. The BBC blows most other 8-bits out of the water and then ARM was light years ahead of the 68000 and 8088-based home computers of the time. I wonder where it all went wrong?
Consolidation,marketing and market saturation. Of the hundreds of 8/16 bits computer makers only a few survived to the 32/64bit era.

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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by SmellyGeekBoy » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:51 pm

Elminster wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:11 pm
SmellyGeekBoy wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:36 pm
Cosmo wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:03 pm
Surprised how sophisticated it is really.
Agreed, speaking from the point of view of someone who's passionate about restoring and using old computers it's pretty amazing just how far ahead of their time Acorn were. The BBC blows most other 8-bits out of the water and then ARM was light years ahead of the 68000 and 8088-based home computers of the time. I wonder where it all went wrong?
Consolidation,marketing and market saturation. Of the hundreds of 8/16 bits computer makers only a few survived to the 32/64bit era.
I suppose it didn't help that, in 1987, the Atari ST for example was £450 while the Archimedes was nearly double that at £800.
https://nosher.net/archives/computers/y ... 0_ataristm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acorn_Archimedes

(I was 3 at the time so I'm speculating here)
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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by Coeus » Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:08 pm

SmellyGeekBoy wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:51 pm
I suppose it didn't help that, in 1987, the Atari ST for example was £450 while the Archimedes was nearly double that at £800.
That would not have helped in the home market. Even before the Archimedes the BBC Micro had been more expensive than the ZX Spectrum and therefore sold in lower numbers despite its sophistication. There was a sense in which Acorn had something in common with the Apple of today in that they were confident that they had a superior solution and that people would pay for that.

I think the home market was essentially swallowed up by the the IBM PC. Once wide cloning and the application of increased integration had been brought to bear, it became cheap enough. There is a lengthy discussion in "An Outline Specification for the BBC Microcomputer". Essentially there was a lot of positive feedback in that as the platform became more popular it received more investment, both in software to run on it and in hardware to make it cheaper and, in some cases, more capable, and the more investment it received the more people bought and so on.

What is nothing like as clear is how that cycle started - how the IBM PC became a machine that people wanted to clone or to write software for. There is a sense in which they way to succeed is with a bad product* in that if you wait until you have a good product, in the meantime someone else will have released a bad product, people will have bought it, and then they will want backwards compatibility with that rather than buy your better, but different product.

The markets in which ARM succeeded are the ones where there was no requirement for backward compatibility. There was no question of re-using PC software on a mobile phone or TV set top box because the requirements are so different so the manufacturers of these things could take advantage of ARMs lower power consumption and Intel and AMD had been too busy with their speed war.


* It has been noted that as broad generality the British are good inventors but not especially good at commercial exploitation of their inventions. I have heard comments that British financiers are more risk averse than others but I also wonder if it is that others simply have more neck to put relatively immature technology out there as a product and get both some lock in from customers, and some revenue to fund further development while the British continue to polish.
Last edited by Coeus on Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by Elminster » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:35 pm

Britain definitely punches above its weight in R&D, although some bebate whether that will continue post brexit, I guess we will see soon.

But usually other countries that make our inventions a success!
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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by VMSZealot » Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:19 pm

I’m - well let’s say that I’m comfortably middle aged and leave it at that. If it helps date me, my car was built over half a century ago and I’m listening to vinyl right now. My first computer was a TI99, but I’ve had a ZX81 (given to me, not used much, crap compared with the TI), Newbrain (hours of word processing essays with Wordstar), Electron (my games Machine!), Apple IIe (still skulking in the loft, still works), Amsterdam PC1512 (rubbish - long since disposed of), Opus PC V 386, Dell 486 - which broke and was replaced by a nominally much slower but in reality much faster (for work, rather than gaming) Mac SE/30 which I still use regularly and a succession of Macs up to my current beast of a Mac Pro.
The modern computers are all very useful and impressive - but soulless and dull compared with their 8bit and 16bit forebears. I can’t help thinking that the rot set in and the fun started to go when the GUI became standard - social networking just broke the camels back. But, equally, perhaps I’m just an old fart who doesn’t much like the computing landscape of today.
As soon as I get a spare moment, the soldering irons will come out and I’ll resurrect the mighty Beeb - and we’ll see where we go from there!

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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by guddler » Mon Oct 01, 2018 12:26 am

I don’t have any recollection of Beebs at school but given I left in 85 there must have been at least 1. I do have fond memories of the text adventure on the RM-380Z mind, and building a speech synthesiser for the ZX81 in after school computer club or some such.

That was it for our school. But that’s because they were more interested in teaching you how to drive tractors and feed the pigs (quite literally!!) I can recall plenty of occasions being told I was wasting my time on those computers as there was no future in them. After almost 30 years as a programmer / development manager I beg to differ. I think I’ve done ok.

Oh, I’m feeling surprisingly young after flicking through this thread incidentally :)

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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by Elminster » Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:55 am

The irony being the average tractor these days has more computing power that NASA in the 80s (probably).

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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by Leew » Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:53 pm

Hmm, you can add another 48 to the average pile from me.
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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by gordonDrogon » Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:40 pm

Adding to the average, I will be 56 before this year ends. This year marks my 40th since a bloody HP9830A computer beat me at Nim. Just think - if I'd won first time round then I might not be here...

(The same year I met the 6502, however the Beeb wasn't on the horizon for another 4 years)

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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by dgrubb » Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:54 pm

32. I was in school when Acorn disappeared and was supplanted with herds of Wintel boxen. My school held out longer than most and was well equipped with A7000s until the assimilation took place.
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Re: What is the average age on here??

Post by trixster » Thu Nov 29, 2018 1:08 pm

I’m 39.

I went to school in Sheffield and I recall both my Primary and Junior schools having a few BBC Bs and a Master. I went to Secondary School in Sep ‘90 (I think!) and we definitely had a room full of A3000s. I think we progressed to a few RISCPCs by the time GCSEs came around, and I recall some PCs by Sixth Form (although I’d lost interest in computing by the point as there were girls to chase and drinking to try and do).

We had a BBC B at home which dad bought in Oct ‘83 (it says so on the psu!) and then we got an Amiga 500 in May ‘91. Id badgered dad to get an A3000 for about a year and a half but it sadly never happened.

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