The BBC Micro, Lovingly Simulated In VR

The BBC Micro was many peoples’ first exposure to home computing, and thanks to [Dominic Pajak], you can fire up this beloved hardware in WebXR. Is it an emulator? Yes, but it’s also much more than that.

The machine, the CRT, the keycaps, and even the sounds of the original keypresses are all brought to life as accurately as possible. The result is not just an emulator. It’s a lovingly-made BBC Micro simulator you can use with a VR headset. Or just use your browser and type on your real keyboard if you like.

Virtual BBC Micro, complete with hand tracking and passthrough video.

This all started with [Dominic]’s previous project of VirtualBeeb, a web-based interactive model of a fully functional BBC Micro, complete with all the sights and sounds of the original hardware. [Dominic] later worked to bring it into 3D with the help of WebXR, aided by the rapid advancement of VR hardware and the excellent resources and functionality of Three.js, upon which the project was built.

[Dominic] shares the whole journey in a fascinating blog post that talks not just about creating a high-fidelity simulated BBC Micro but also what it was like to port it to a true 3D experience.

It’s a fantastic project that pays homage to a truly influential piece of vintage computing, so brush up on BBC Basic to deepen your appreciation. The BBC Micro, after all, was more than just a computer from the 80s. It was an integral part of the UK’s Computer Literacy Project, and in the 80s there was a realization that this was going to affect everyone. Wondering what that was like? Browse those broadcasts online and soak it all in.

5 thoughts on “The BBC Micro, Lovingly Simulated In VR

  1. Great work Dominic!
    Luckily my original Beeb still works, so I can play Chuckie Egg in glorious Real Life mode!

    Now we ‘just’ need an Elite 3D emulator so flying becomes easier with the headset 😇

    1. Thanks! Mark Moxon’s annotated Elite source does reveal where the vertex data lives in memory for rendering ships in 3D – so in theory can be translated VR. But at that point maybe better to pick up Elite Dangerous instead!

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