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updated 10:55 PM BST, Apr 23, 2015
Technology and life sciences news from the Cambridge cluster

Micro Men meet Raspberry Pi as BBC Micro celebrates 30 years

The BBC Micro Model ACambridge is to host the only full celebration of the BBC Micro's 30 year anniversary, the computer that helped develop several generations of computer scientists and enterprises, showcasing old machines, new incarnations (Raspberry Pi anybody?) and bring the key figures from the era together.

Designed by Cambridge's Acorn Computers, the BBC Micro was hugely significant to the UK's computing industry and to thousands of school children. It was Micro where the legendary game Elite first appeared, it was the Micro that was pushed out into schools across the country, the Micro which had the highly accessible BBC Basic computing language, far simpler than long division.

Kids would often sit hunched over their machines copying out more complex code for a new game from one of many computer magazines, with the errors they carried only serving to deepen their understanding of programming.

The BBC Micro reached more than one generation of computer scientist and entrepreneur too, from Braben and Mike Lynch at Autonomy whose business sold for £7.1bn, to Dan Crow at Songkick which just raised $10m, its effect was massive, quite possibly beyond measure. So it's certainly due a celebration.

Incredibly, on hand to answer questions from the floor will be pretty much the entire team from Acorn Computers, which was there at the beginning of the BBC Micro work – Hauser, Curry, Wilson and Furber to name a few – together with the BBC team that pushed its development as part of the BBC's Computer Literacy Project.

Having seen the botch job that apparently took place moments before the BBC arrived to evaluate the Acorn computer in Micro Men, the TV film that told the story of the UK's computing industry, that's a Q&A worth listening to.

"We will have questions for Acorn and the BBC," says Jason Fitzpatrick, chairman of the Centre for Computing History – often referred to as the Computer Museum – which is organising the celebration. "History has a habit of re-writing itself, but because they will all be there at the same time the truth will out!"

(I'm sure I've seen that chap at the back before)

The Q&A will form just part of a day one events, music and displays that runs from 10am to 5pm on Sunday 25 April, taking place at Arm headquarters in Cambridge, the lasting legacy of Acorn's work.

As well as these stars of UK computing, there's a chance to get a real feel for how things have moved on. Almost every piece of gaming software written for the BBC Micro will be available, it all fits on a single SD Micro Card.

Raspberry Pi will be there, often seen as the natural heir to the BBC Micro, the group is trying to recreate a surge in interest in the nuts and bolts behind computing with its £22 computer.

Arm, the independent business that eventually emerged from Acorn and whose chips power the large majority of the world's smart phones and which sit at the centre of the Raspberry Pi will also be exhibiting.

There's also a little bit of hackery going on too and it's not just Raspberry Pi. One BBC Micro's had the famous Commodore 64 SID chip which launched a thousand soundtracks installed on it, bringing a much more sophisticated yet suitably retro sound to the occasion.

Most of the Domesday System will also have a run out, that incredible attempt to document the UK 900 years after the original effort which became a victim of digital rot, outmoded digital formats on degrading hardware, is being made available free of charge to schools, libraries and museums.

To purchase a ticket for the day, click here.

(A banging tune)