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May 31, 2020

The BBC Micro - Interview with Hermann Hauser

Hi, everyone, and welcome to episode 99 for May 2020 of the Floppy Days Podcast, where we look at home computers of the 70’s and 80’s across the globe, not just the U.S.

This episode is one in a series of episodes on one of the iconic British machines that was so important to the home computer revolution: The BBC Micro.  In episode 97, I had an interview with one of the key members of the BBC Micro team: Mr. Steve Furber.  In this episode, with Steve’s help, I was able to get an interview with another key member of that team: Mr. Hermann Hauser.

Last episode (#98) I summarized the history of the BBC Micro and I don’t want to repeat that here, but I want to give you just a bit of information about Hermann to help set the stage for the interview to follow:

Chris Curry and Mr. Hauser set up a company called Acorn Computer Ltd. and in January 1979 they launched their first product: a microcomputer kit named Acorn System 75.  The name Acorn was chosen because the microcomputer system was to be expandable and growth-oriented and appeared before "Apple Computer" in a telephone directory.

Their follow-up product was a microcomputer called the Atom.  After it had been released into the market, Acorn (due to an idea proposed by Hermann) decided to build an improved 6502-based machine with far greater expansion capabilities: the Proton.

Hauser quickly pulled in Steve Furber (who had been working for Acorn on a voluntary basis) and Sophie Wilson to help complete a revised version of the Proton which met the specifications that the British Broadcasting Corporation was shopping around to find a partner for their planned literacy program.  BBC visited Acorn and were given a demonstration of the Proton. Shortly afterwards, the literacy program computer contract was awarded to Acorn, and the Proton was launched in December 1981 as the BBC Micro.

Hermann Hauser believes that if he had had just a little more foresight all those years ago, the world would now talk about Acorn compatible rather than IBM compatible computers.  Wouldn’t that be interesting?

Anyway, I’m very excited and proud to have gotten an interview with Hermann and I enjoyed talking with him very much.  I hope you enjoy it as well.

I’m still planning, in upcoming episodes, to cover all of the usual topics on the Beeb, such as its history in depth, tech specs, modern upgrades, Web sites and a ton of other information about this machine.

Before we jump into the interview, I’ll spend just a moment to let you know about any new acquisitions I’ve managed to get for the hobby and any hobby-related things I’ve been working on.

Please enjoy!

Links Mentioned in the Show:

New Acquisitions

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