Marcin Wichary: visiting @hypertalking’s (James’s) excellent collection of Mac-related stuff

A Mastodon thread by Marcin Wichary, with images of Mac related stuff.

Last week, I had a chance to visit @hypertalking’s (James’s) excellent collection of Mac-related stuff. He’s particularly interested in collecting 1990s Macs, which is the era of Apple history I don’t have a lot of personal experience with, so it was doubly exciting.

Here are some 100 photos from that visit


A visual feast. But for me, the highlight and unexpected find is BBC Basic for the Mac, complete with 6502 assembler and emulator.

Published in 1989 by Human-Computer Interaction Ltd, which is David Johnson-Davies, former head of AcornSoft. What an offering - who wrote it, and how did the licensing work out, I wonder? (The BBC were very protective.)

Download version 2 or version 3 here or here - and see within for some screenshots and a video preview. Also for some text:

BBC BASIC supports the full BASIC language, as on Master series computers, and the most significant features of BASIC V supplied with the Acorn Archimedes. It runs programs significantly faster than a BBC Microcomputer, in some cases up to twice as fast.

BBC BASIC Incorporates the BBC Emulator Operating System — BEOS — to give full emulation of the BBC Microcomputer environment on your Macintosh, thereby catering for BASIC and machine-code programs that call BBC Microcomputer routines. BEOS includes all the standard system commands, calls, and vectors.

Dynamic tracing and debugging features let you run a program, or step through, highlighting each statement as it is executed, and you can display the values of any variables or expressions.

Here’s a bit of press in Acorn User: Little Acorns from Big Macs in Acorn User

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Around the same time (1988), Dave Parkinson (Ariadne Software; originally responsible for CNET) wrote “The Emulator” for the Commodore Amiga. The software was published by Commodore Business Machines (UK) Ltd, and was part of their education push. For a while they bundled an Amiga A500 + monitor + The Emulator at a very attractive price for schools.

One way to tell if BBC BASIC for the Mac has anything in common with The Emulator is its floating point performance. Ariadne’s software used Motorola FFP, a 32-bit real format with considerably less precision than Acorn and Richard Russell’s implementations. I’m not sure if FFP was as much of a thing on the Mac, since Apple had its own floating point library that could automatically hand off calculations to a coprocessor.

I still have a soft spot for The Emulator, as I wrote a load of numerical analysis routines in BBC BASIC to help me through my undergraduate degree. I’d mentioned it on Stardot before (68k BASIC).

Another 68K BBC BASIC it could be related was Computer Concepts’ FaST BASIC for the Atari ST. It was fantastic, but didn’t provide any BBC Micro/6502 emulation. Again, I spent so much time with the squishy-keyed Atari STs in the Mech Eng lab at Strathclyde programming in FaST BASIC.

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