Personal Computer Museum, Canada's Videogame Museum

BBC Master

BBC Master

Speed2 MHz
Memory128 KB

What's this?


Release Date: 1/1/1986
Manufacturer: Acorn
Original Retail Price:
Adjusted Inflation Price:
Donated By: Pete Wooledge
The BBC Master was an enhanced version of the BBC Model B providing improved features, but sadly also introducing compatibility problems with earlier BBC systems.

These features were: loads more memory such as shadow, sideways and private RAM, 4 sound channels, twin cartridge sockets, as well as several built-in ROM software packages like View (word processor), ViewSheet (spreadsheet), ADFS (Advanced Filing System), a text editor and terminal utilities.

Like the Model B, the system had so many I/O ports that most of them had to be placed under the case. Luckily, they only used flat-cable connectors.

When it was released, the BBC Master met with great success. From 1986 to 1989, about 200,000 systems were sold, mainly to U.K. schools and universities. Several enhanced versions of the Master were launched in the following months:

  • The Master 512 was a Master 128 with 512 KB of RAM and an internal 80186 processor. It could be upgraded up to 1024 KB and ran MS-DOS.
  • The Master Turbo was a Master 128 with a 65C02 as a second processor.
The BBC Master and Master Compact could be considered the most accomplished 8-bit 'home' computers and among the last mass-produced 8-bit machines. Production ended in 1993. While developing and marketing the BBC Master, Acorn realized the PC world was moving on from 8-bit to 16-bit processors and started developing their own 32-bit chip, the Acorn RISC Machine, or ARM.


User Comments
OokPikRick on Wednesday, January 28, 2009
HI A great site. I have been using Acorn computers since the early 1980's and at one time ran a computer Lab in a school of between 10 and 20 Acorn machines, including BBC-B's, 310, 410 and A3000's and A4000's. These remained actively used until I retired from teaching in 1996. I still have a StrongArm Turbo Risc PC which is a fantastic machine even today.
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* Inflation data courtesy of Values are approximate using our own calculations.