[Adrian] comments that the BBC Master 128 is a rare 8-bit computer, and we agree — we couldn’t remember hearing about that particular machine, although the BBC series is quite familiar. The machine has a whopping 128 K of RAM, quite a bit for those days. It also had a 6502 variant known as the 65C12, which has an extra pin compared to a 6502 and doesn’t use the same clock arrangement. A viewer sent him one of these machines, which apparently was used in the BBC studios. You can see this rare beauty in the video below.
The computer has a very nice-looking keyboard that includes a number pad. There are also expansion ports for printers and floppy disk drives. It has some similarities to a standard BBC computer but has a number of differences externally and internally.
Of course, we were waiting for the teardown about 15 minutes in. There were some corroded batteries but luckily, they didn’t do much damage. The power supply had a burned smell. Cracking it open for inspection was a good time to convert the power supply to run on 120 V, too.
After some power supply repair, it was time to power the machine up. The results were not half bad. It started up with a cryptic error message: “This is not a language.” Better than a dead screen. The keyboard wasn’t totally working, though. A bit of internet searching found that the error happens when the battery dies and the machine loses its configuration.
More walkthroughs will take a bit more work on the keyboard. But we were impressed it came up as far as it did, and we look forward to a future installment where the machine fully starts up.
[Adrian] mentioned the co-processor slot accepting a Raspberry Pi, something we’ve talked about before. Or, add an FPGA and make the plucky computer think it is a PDP/11.