Back to BASIC With a Little RISC

Getting back to fundamentals here in my micro-man cave. With the nation outside my window completely incapable of handling this pandemic, I’ve taken refuge in rediscovering the early days of personal home computing. Specifically the BBC Micro, and other similar boards from the early to mid eighties. This was slightly before my entry into personal computers, as I came into it during the 286/386 CPU era. So it’s back to my Raspberry Pi to transport me back to a simpler time.

I had experimented with RISC OS on the Raspberry Pi in the past but always quickly abandoned it because of its quirky 3 button mouse interface and lack of WiFi integration (WiFi is kinda essential to running a multi-Raspberry Pi setup in a 2LDK Japanese apartment). For those not familiar, RISC OS  was the operating system developed by Acorn for their Archimedes line of computers which ran on an early ARM (Advanced RISC Machine) processor. The same processor design that would eventually run the smartphone or tablet you are reading this on. RISC OS gives us a glimpse of where desktop computing, and their operating systems, could have gone, had the ARM chip set gained more traction 30 years ago.

So, I decided to give RISC OS Pi another chance on one of my original Raspberry Pi 1 Model Bs. The RISC OS 5 Raspberry Pi distribution hasn’t changed a bit since I last installed it. It still has no WiFi capabilities, but I decided to turn my other Raspberry Pi 4 (next to it) into a WiFi to Ethernet bridge, effectively sharing the Pi 4s WiFi via the ethernet cable over to old Pi running RISC OS. I relied on guide at PiMyLifeUp to help turn my Pi 4 into a bridged router.  Pretty cool stuff!

Bridged WiFi to ethernet running RISC OS using a discarded composite SONY WEGA monitor!

Now I got RISC OS running, with internet connectivity. Oh the joys of undiscovered early 90s computing! Not quite sure what do do with it, I guess just learn about RISC OS. It is still being actively developed for believe it or not!

Of course, one of the main benefits of RISC OS, hearkening back to it BBC Micro relationship, is the integration of the BBC BASIC programming language into the operating system. Right from the RISC OS terminal I can enter BASIC and start programming away. Remember this gem: 10 PRINT “DMH is awesome!”… 20 GOTO 10… Great stuff!

Of course this BASIC rabbit hole led me to another iteration of RISC OS called RISC OS Pico. Essentially, this turns your Raspberry Pi into an early BBC Micro, booting right into BASIC, no graphical interface, that’s it! Now I can get right to the heart of the matter, strip away all the bullshit, and relearn BASIC just like I had a 1982 BBC Micro plopt on my genkan from a magical retro computing Santa.

Happy computing everyone!



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