The BBC has added the output of its Computer Literacy Project, covering more than 260 full-length TV programmes and 166 BBC Micro computer programs, to its Taster testing site - though nostalgic programmers have only three months to try it out.
Launched in 1982 with The Computer Programme, which was followed by Making the Most of the Micro a year later and Micro Live between 1984 and 1987, the BBC's Computer Literacy Project followed the UK government's push to get microcomputers - at the time rare novelties - into schools throughout the country. Having picked Cambridge-based Acorn to produce a BBC-branded microcomputer, which would be known as the BBC Micro, above rivals including Sinclair and Newbury Laboratories, the project saw the BBC's Ian 'Mac' McNaught-Davis and Chris Serle introducing the benefits of computing to a somewhat sceptical public.
Those who remember the event well, and those who were but a twinkle in the milkman's eye at the time, can now experience the birth of home computing once more through the BBC's Taster beta-testing site, which has launched a project gathering the output of 14 TV series, including The Computer Program, alongside the software detailed therein - all of which can be used directly in a web browser.
'This Computer Literacy Project (CLP) Archive contains hundreds of programmes and thousands clips from these series along with many other programmes related to computing,' explains the BBC's Jake Berger, who worked on the project with retired BBC staffers and original series contributors David Allen and Steve Lowry. 'It also allows you to run over 150 BBC Micro software programs - written to accompany the TV programmes - in your browser. For those of you who don't know what the BBC Micro is, it was a computer released in 1981, which focused on education software. The material in this archive is searchable by keyword or theme.
'We hope that this archive is of interest to people who remember the CLP programmes, had a BBC Micro, are interested in the history of technology, or simply wish to experience a bit of 80’s nostalgia. Much of the material on the principles of computing remain valid today and are likely to be useful for teaching purposes.'
As with all the Taster test projects, the Computer Literacy Project archive is time-limited: The site will remain accessible for the next three months, after which the BBC will gather user feedback to decide whether or not it should be turned into a permanent feature of its website.
The archive can be accessed at the Taster test site now.