Introduction to the history of the BBC micro:bit

Introduction to the history of the BBC micro:bit

Since the establishment of the BBC in 1922, it has always been a peak of broadcast media. At the beginning of its founding, the broadcasting company was composed of several radio companies (including the company of Marconi, the inventor of the telegraph). The reason for BBC becoming a technological promoter of the computer and Internet of Things industry is not only for the propaganda and communication needs of the media, but also for a technological pioneer rooted in the BBC system.


When Apple released the Apple II computer, the BBC began planning to promote programming technology to the public through television. This program was named CLP (computer language project). In order to promote CLP more effectively, the BBC Engineering Department and Acom jointly completed the design of BBC microsystem with the assistance of the British Ministry of Trade and Industry at that time. The system is based on MOS 6520 chip (8-bit, main frequency 2Mhz, 16kROM BASIC, 16kROM machine operating system, 32KRAM). At the same time, it is equipped with a BASIC language interpreter to ensure that BASIC programs and 6502 assembly code can be integrated and run, and the design also retains extended the interface of the language processor (Z80), and the system can interface with TV and antenna systems. The sold machines also contain application software for users, including astronomical prediction, computer-aided learning, engineering training, financial models, games , income tax calculation, music editing, value-added tax, and primary school directory, etc.


In the nearly 9 years from 1982 to 1989, the CPL program trained BASIC programming for British people at the time in various ways at different times of the BBC (nearly 2 million people received training and purchased BBC Microsystem), Even now, this number is quite amazing. More importantly, BBC micro has cultivated a large number of talents with computer programming ability for the system innovation of the British industrial and commercial sectors. This is seen today after decades, especially when people are amazed by industry innovation companies such as ARM and DeepMind. In the leading position in the new world, quite a few people have grown up under the influence of BBC micro without knowing the budding of software architecture, hardware technology, and basic theories.


In 2016, after a lapse of 35 years, the BBC provided a set of micro: bit kits to all middle school students (grade 7) in the UK for free. It is also called micro:bit for convenience. The figure below is the V1.5 version released in 2018 (the sensor on the initial version is NXPMMA3110+ MMA8653, due to product supply and life cycle issues, ST's LSM303AGR is adopted after version 1.5). The main control adopts Nordic NRF51822 (256kFlash, 16kRAM, Bluetooth +2.4G), and the USB interface management is NXPKL26Z. The system has a 5x5 LED array, the PO-P20 IO port is led out at the bottom edge of the board, three buttons A/B/RESET, and a micro USB port, and a JST battery 3V power supply port.

bbc microbit

bbc micro bit

Different from BBC micro's learning programming through BBC television in the early 1980s, according to the statistics of the micro:bit foundation in 2018: Young people in more than 45 countries have begun to learn to use micro:bit, and learn through self-study, classroom explanations, and interest courses. micro:bit is easier to be promoted and received. At the same time, many engineers are still pushing micro:bit into more unknown areas through their own designs.