BBC Technology - A Museum Piece
Written by Sue Gee   
Sunday, 09 October 2022

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the BBC, TNMOC (The National Museum of Computing) is mounting an exhibition "BBC Through The Decades", showcasing the analogue and digital technology used by the BBC since its inception.


The exhibition, which opened this month in TNMOC's pop up gallery and runs until November 20, looks at how the BBC began broadcasting in 1922, the first television broadcast in 1932 and the move to color in 1967. It also features the launch of the BBC website in 1997 and the digital switchover that began in 2007.

The aim of the exhibit is to recognize the contribution to computing and technology made by the BBC over its hundred-year history. One of the most important of its innovations was Ceefax, which started in 1974 and was the first teletext facility in the world and the start of interactive television services. TNMOC has a special version in homage to the original.


The BBC Domesday Project, a landmark survey of the UK in the 1980s is another of the highlights. For this project the public were asked to help compile a digital snapshot of where they lived, to mark the 900th anniversary of the Domesday Book. TNMOC has an original machine that still runs off its original LaserDiscs. 

As far as computing is concerned it is the BBC Micro that is the star of the show. This too dates from the 1980s when the BBC embarked on its Computer Literacy Proect and produced not only a series of television series, The Computer Programme, but was also involved in creating and marketing BBC-branded hardware - the BBC Micro.  The BBC Micro belonged to a special era - that of the home computer - and had a special place. With backing from the BBC and government subsidies it found its way into around 80% of schools in the UK, accounting for 85% of computers in the UKs schools in the mid 1980s. It celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2021, see our BBC Micro Retrospective for more on its story.


The museum has around 80 of these machines and visitors will be able to get hands-on with retro games retro games.

My own claim to fame vis-s-vis the BBC Micro is as co-author of 21 Games for the BBC Micro:


Although the exhibition has been open since October 1st,  Saturday October 15th is the data of its launch event when Rory Cellan-Jones, former BBC technology correspondent and TNMOC Honorary Fellow will share his personal BBC journey. His live Q & A will be live-streamed for vistual attendees.

Kids can attend the event for FREE and the afternoon events include a Micro:bit coding workshop with the title musical gloves. While the Micro:bit has been handed on to its own Educational Foundation, the idea of creating a tiny computer and distributing it to roughly 1 million Year 7 pupils aged around 11 years old came from the BBC.


The micro:bit, now in its V2 incarnation. now ships worldwide and is good for prototyping IoT projects. So while it is worth celebrating its heritage at TNMOC is is much more than a museum piece and while the BBC Micro is now over 40 it still has a dedicated community of programmers and has a place both inside and outside TNMOC.



More Information

BBC 100th Anniversary Gallery

Related Articles

BBC Micro Retrospective

BBC Micro To micro:bit

BBC micro:bit Your Next Computer?       

BBC Giving Away 1 Million Microcomputers       

New BBC micro:bit

Micro:bit A Gift Of Programming


To be informed about new articles on I Programmer, sign up for our weekly newsletter, subscribe to the RSS feed and follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.



Is PHP in Trouble?

The April 2024 headline for the TIOBE Index, which ranks programming languages in terms of their popularity, reads, "Is PHP losing its mojo" asking this question because this month PHP has dropped out [ ... ]

Java Version 22 Released

JDK 22 is not a Long Term Support release, but is one of the regular releases that are scheduled to arrive every six months. Still, it has got a lot to show for itself.

More News



raspberry pi books



or email your comment to:



Last Updated ( Sunday, 09 October 2022 )