(link to the presentation given in class)

I was introduced to the Arduino and the concept of micro-controllers in the Creation and Computation class. When I first took it out of the box I had no idea what it was and what it was capable of. As time rolled by I was taken back to the year 1987 when I first used the BBC Microcomputer in secondary school. For its time, the BBC Micro was revolutionary. A precursor to the Arduino, the BBC Micro due to the very nature of its being helped spark off a generation of garage software & game developers who later went on to become influential players in the software & app business. Co-relating this to the Arduino and the resulting Maker revolution, I saw a pattern emerge and decided to do my research report on both the BBC Micro and the Arduino and perhaps even how the Arduino may have a much longer life and impact than the BBC Micro.


Of micros and acorns




The year is 1981 and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is all set to launch a massive computer literacy project that included a TV show “The Computer Programme” and the production of an accompanying machine called the “BBC MICRO” developed by ACORN for the BBC 









Born: 1981

Place: United Kingdom

Creators: BBC & Acorn

Price: The 32 bit RAM MICRO was priced at £399

Units sold: Acorn expected to sell 12,000 units and ended up selling a whopping 1.5 million units worldwide

Purpose: The purpose of the MICRO was not just programming but also graphics, controlling peripheral devices, sound & vision and Artificial Intelligence


What it did: The BBC Computer Literacy Project became one of the most successful computer literacy projects in history

BBC Micro was an excellent tool to introduce young people to programming

The widespread availability of BBC BASIC led to the creation of a cottage industry to provide software for the computer

Many of the ‘companies’ that were formed were started by young people who would later go on to establish the UK gaming industry as the third strongest in the world


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Below is a first person account representing the generation of programmers that the BBC Micro created, for more examples please check the presentation link.

“I started coding games at home when I was 11 years old”

“There was an explosion of creativity, most of it coming from self-taught young men like us working at home”

_57049319_darlingDavid Darling CBE is the co-founder of Codemasters

and now runs Kwalee, a smartphone game developer






Born: 2005

Place: Interaction Design Institute at Ivrea, Italy

Creators: Massimo Banzi, David Cuartielles, David Mellis

Origin of the name: Inspired by a bar in Italy “Bar Di Re Arduino”, originally a boys name in Italian meaning “brave friend”

Price: $30

Units sold: Approx 250,000

Purpose: Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments

What its doing:





A 12-Year-Old’s Quest To Remake Education, One Arduino At A Time

Twelve-year-old electronics prodigy Quin Etnyre wanted to make education more fun. So he became a teacher.


Quin Etnyre

Age 12


A shining star in the next generation of “makers”. Enjoyed soldering circuit boards at Maker Faire Bay Area and started ordering components online and taught himself how to code. Teaches Arduino coding and programming. Launched his company Qtechknow in 2012. Struck a deal with SparkFun which now sells his product the “Qtechknow ArduSensors Kit” with tutorials written by Quin


PSC0913_DY_051FUZZ BOT: Quin started with a robot chassis kit for Arduino that he received last Christmas. “And then one morning, I decided to hook up a Parallax Ping sensor so that it could avoid obstacles,” he says. “From then on, I worked on the code and perfected it.” Quin also added extra functionality; the FuzzBot can clean floors. Now he’s working on a wireless controller

QUINQuin also developed the “Gas Cap”or what he likes to call “a fart sensor”.  A cap with LEDs that blinks when it detects Methane


Sylvia Todd

Age 12


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Has her own YouTube Channel “Super Awesome Mini Maker Show” which has over 1.5 million views views with over 20 episodes featuring beginner level projects for kids

Her projects have included a pendant that measures your heartbeat & waterColorBot; a robot that paints with watercolors



Arduino for Disabilities

In July 2011, 5 Art & Design students from the University of Arts in Philadelphia were paired with 5 people with disabilities in an attempt at collaborative design

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The purpose was to explore how micro-controllers can empower people with disabilities

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Michael loves photography.

A knee-actuated switch (so Michael can steer the wheelchair with his hands) allows him to take photographs when a servomotor is activated within the mount and clicks for him while he is on the move


Can Google play the role of the BBC?

Google chairman Eric Schmidt announced that Google would help pay for 100 new science teachers and equip classrooms with Arduino kits and Raspberry Pi microcomputers.


“The success of the BBC Micro in the 1980s shows what’s possible. There’s no reason why Raspberry Pi shouldn’t have the same impact, with the right support”



My Arduino and I are a part of a revolution. What propelled the Micro to stardom also sealed its fate. The BBCs ultimate incapacity to look beyond the Micro as an accessory for the TV program resulted in its demise. The Arduino being an open-source hardware with an ever-growing community promises a phenomenal evolutionary path where the micro-controller will keep growing. The community openly share their creation(s) and provide support. With such dynamics the Arduino is bound to outlive the Micro.



The BBC Microcomputer and me, 30 years down the line. (2011, January 12). BBC News.

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Arduino – HomePage. (n.d.). <i>Arduino – HomePage</i>.

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A 12-Year-Old’s Quest To Remake Education, One Arduino At A Time. (n.d.). <i>Popular Science</i>.

Retrieved November 27, 2013, from


Arduino For Disabilities. (n.d.). Arduino For Disabilities.

Retrieved November 30, 2013, from


BBC Micro. (n.d.).

Retrieved November 30, 2013, from


Calling All Teachers. (n.d.). Quarkstream.

Retrieved November 30, 2013, from


Open Source Hardware Association. (n.d.). Open Source Hardware Association.

Retrieved November 30, 2013, from


The BBC Micro. (n.d.). CHM Blog The BBC Micro Comments.

Retrieved November 30, 2013, from


geekosystem. (n.d.). Geekosystem Google to Put Arduino Raspberry Pi Computers in UK Classrooms Comments.

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