Micro Mart


App Of The Week: BeebEm
By Mike Wyatt
PC (Windows)

 
Published in Micro Mart #1441

Hands up who used a BBC Micro back in the day?

App Of The Week: BeebEm

A recent conversation regarding my time in Computer Studies GCSE classes found me looking up an appropriate emulator for the rather wonderful BBC Micro. It brought back all sorts of memories of my youth and the classroom computers. Back in 1988, as a pupil of a small, northern school, we had just eight BBCs in the computer classroom; as well as a printer, the teacher's BBC and several assorted peripherals stored in the cupboard at the back of the room.

It's not many by today's standards, but each computer meant the world to those of us doing the GCSE, for which I coded my own database where I could enter membership details for my dad's working man's club. The Beebs were also the main attraction of the lunchtime computer club, for which we ran gaming events and learned how to code in both BASIC and Assembly.

With this in mind, I thought it apt to cover the excellent BeebEm this week, as originally developed by Dave Gilbert and recently maintained by Mike Wyatt.

Beep, Beeeeep

BeebEm

BeebEm is an emulator designed to copy the exact functions, look and feel of the classic BBC Micro model B/B+ and Master 128 systems. In short, it's a wonderful bit of code that really brings the true 'feel' of the BBC Micro to the modern computer, right down to the simulated 'chug, chug' sound of the disk whirling away when loading a program.

The use of BeebEm is extremely simple, just download the latest version (currently 4.14, as we write), install and run. You'll soon be looking at a familiar black screen with white command prompt text. There, you can enter all sorts of the usual BASIC commands should you wish.

On the top of the emulator window you'll find a number of options that will allow you to change the machine from the standard Model B to a B+, Master 128 and so on, as well as options to further enhance the machine with a second processor (Z80, ARM or 65C02) and alter the timings, display and sound to suit your purposes.

BeebEm

You can configure a joystick, include a hard drive, remap the keys, include a modem and even a Teletext adapter should you want to relive those heady days, or add the Econet networking upgrade. There's support for double-sided SSD disks, XAudio2 support and several TV resolutions to choose from - so, if you have a specific memory of using a Beeb with an old TV, you can get closer to recreating that original experience.

Although the gaming catalogue of the Beeb never matched that of the other 8-bit machines available at the time, you shouldn't have too many problems getting the likes of Chuckie Egg, Elite and Repton up and running in very little time at all.

Conclusion

While it's not been worked on for a while, BeebEm is easily the next best thing to actually owning a true BBC Micro. It's certainly enough to bring back some happy memories for me. Although you may not have too much call for it in this modern age, I'm sure you'll get some satisfaction out of reliving the familiar sounds and uses of the machine too.

Features At A Glance

  1. Free!
  2. Can accurately emulate Model B, B+, Master 128 and loads of peripherals as well
  3. Available for Linux, UNIX, Mac, Pocket PC and even the PSP!
  4. Supports disk images and raw BBC Micro data files