Microbee computer

Owen Hill owenh@met.crc.org.au
Mon, 24 Aug 1998 15:54:50 +1000

It's fascinating to hear still more about the Microbee. As Ash says it
was released in 1982!

For the record Jim Rowe did not design the Microbee although he did join
the company for a short time around 1986. Jim did design EDUC 8 (1979 or
so) and legend has it that Jim's computer was probably the first
hobby-built PC in the world! It was published in Electronics Australia
just prior to the MITS Altair article appeared in Popular Electronics
the US. The editors of Popular Electronics did later admit, reluctantly,
that EA had published the first  home PC design. 

Ash is being a little humble too - in fact he was one of the real
pioneers of the industry! His Wildcards series of books of software for
the Microbee was very popular (and virtually the true Microbee believers
bible!). Ash and his partners had discovered the business opportunity
for 3rd party publication around PCs. One has only to look at the shelf
space on Computers/Software allocated in Bookstores to see how big this
market has grown!

Lastly if anyone cares to search the WWW you will find the Swedes still
have a Microbee Home page (The ROM Based Microbee 32K was sold
extensively throughout the Swedish Schools 1982 to 1987 and attracted a
similar following to Australia). Not only did these guys knock off
Wildcards you will now see the range of Microbee multimedia Wintel-based
computers (marketed under the SAME logo!).


Owen Hill

		-----Original Message-----
		From:	Ash Nallawalla [mailto:ash@melbpc.org.au]
		Sent:	Saturday, 22 August 1998 12:29
		To:	link@www.anu.edu.au
		Subject:	Microbee computer

		> From: Stewart Fist
		> Chris Connolly wrote:

		> > I preferred the Microbee.

		> >From memory, it was designed by Jim Rowe, who now
		> Electronics Australia.

		I am not sure about that but Owen Hill reads this list
and may pop up with a
		potted history.

		The Microbee got my interest going in computers.
Filling out FORTRAN IV
		coding sheets at Otago U (as part of an accounting
degree) did not fill me
		with a passion for computing, and it took the W3IWI
amateur satellite
		tracking program to be ported to the Bee to get me to
accept that there was
		indeed some use for these small computers.  That
generation included many
		people with an interest in hobby electronics, for you
needed to assemble
		your computer (except for Apple and some others).  Many
of us were radio

		I ordered my Microbee 16 kit sometime in 1982.  It was a
typical Aussie
		electronics kit -- four components too many and one
short.  Tape based at
		first, and floppy-based CP/M later.  That meant a 70 km
trip to Tricky
		Dicky's in the city before the smoke test.  The same
afternoon I decided to
		upgrade it to 32K.  It was underdocumented, so three of
us got together and
		published the Wildcards series of books, which we later
sold to Pitman.  The
		first book was pirated into Swedish and some distant
user was kind enough to
		send me a nicely bound copy. :-)  One of the partners
dropped out to start a
		Commodore dealership because he was convinced that this
machine was the
		future of home computing.  I got my first AT clone and
the third partner
		hung in there with the colour version of the Bee until
he too saw the IBM
		light.  It got me the deposit to buy a house, gave me
the incentive to do a
		GradDipComp at Deakin and get out of the RAAF, and minor
fame in the user
		group scene, so I was very grateful to the Bee.