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A > ACORN COMPUTER  > BBC Master   


Acorn Computer
BBC Master

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.

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David wrote: "the BBC B used the IC18 Sound Generator and the BBC Master the IC38 which offered the same number of channels (4) but slightly better quality sound. ... the BBC B+ also used the IC38!"

David, ICXX is simply Acorn''s own designation for the position of the IC in the circuit. What identifies the Sound Generator is the manufacturer''s part number - SN76496 in the Model B and B+, and the SN76489 in the Master. There is no difference in the sound output quality between these two chips.

By the way, are you the David Shepherd who wrote Atom Minotaur? I''m the Chris Jordan who designed the sound firmware driving the above chips in the BBC Micro.

          
Saturday 19th April 2014
Chris Jordan (UK)

"I believe this inaccurate. I recall no improvement in the sound feature between these two models."

Pedantically yes, the BBC B used the IC18 Sound Generator and the BBC Master the IC38 which offered the same number of channels (4) but slightly better quality sound.

I say pedantically, because the BBC B+ also used the IC38!

          
Wednesday 2nd April 2014
David Shepherd

"The BBC Master was an enhanced version of the BBC Model B providing improved features... These features were: ... 4 sound channels"

I believe this inaccurate. I recall no improvement in the sound feature between these two models.

          
Monday 3rd February 2014
Chris Jordan

 

NAME  BBC Master
MANUFACTURER  Acorn Computer
TYPE  Home Computer
ORIGIN  United Kingdom
YEAR  February 1986
END OF PRODUCTION  1993
BUILT IN LANGUAGE  BBC BASIC IV interpreter
KEYBOARD  Full stroke 93 key with numeric keypad and 10 function keys
CPU  65C102 (an evolution of the 6502)
SPEED  2 MHz.
RAM  128 KB
ROM  128 KB (Expandable)
TEXT MODES  40/80 x 25 lines, 20/40/80 x 32, Teletex mode (40 x 25 x 8 colours)
GRAPHIC MODES  160/320/640 x 256 dots in 2 to 8 colours
COLORS  8 among 16
SOUND  4 chanels, 8 octaves - SN76489 sound generator
SIZE / WEIGHT  46.7 (W) x 34.5 (D) x 7.5 (H) cm.
I/O PORTS  Tube expansion, BBC High Speed Bus, FDD interface, User interface, RS423 serial, Analog, Econet network, Parallel, tape recorder, TV/RF, RGB & Composite outputs,
BUILT IN MEDIA  Cassette & FDD interfaces
OS  MOS
POWER SUPPLY  Built-in switching power supply unit
PERIPHERALS  External FDD unit, processor card, etc.
PRICE  £499


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