In March 1981 the Sinclair ZX81 computer launched. I bought one at the end of the year.

Also at the end of 1981, the BBC Micro computer launched. I bought one of those a year or two later (after using a Commodore VIC-20.)

I used the Beeb all my spare time, programming in BBC Basic, Forth, Pascal, 6502 Assembler, and created a number of electronic devices briefly referred to elsewhere in this blog… It was an awesome time, before computing devices were commonplace, ubiquitous, and thus taken for granted.

It’s now March 2021, 40 years after my first computer arrived. Yesterday, after playing with the simulator on my iPhone I ordered a BBC micro:bit computer (and a third-party STEM electronics sensors/development board) for delivery this very afternoon.

Sure having only a 5×5 LED matrix and beeper means it’s limited without external devices, sure it’s not an Arduino microcontroller or Raspberry Pi general purpose computer. But I can write and test micro:bit programs on my phone – no external keyboard or mouse or screen are needed, no Internet connection is required, no cassette tapes or diskettes or memory cards are necessary.

It’s already getting me back to the feeling I had when I started computing, but it’s all just… easier.

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