The Home Computer That Roared: How the BBC Micro Shaped Our World

In 1981 the BBC partnered with Acorn to create an ambitious new home computer. Intended to accompany TV and Radio programs as part of their Computer Literacy project, it quickly found its way into schools and homes across the UK and beyond, capturing the imagination and enthusiasm of a generation of youngsters.

The legacy of the BBC Micro still runs through our industry. Jeremy tells the story of its impact from his 1980s perspective as the teenage author of a series of BBC Micro books through to his reflections in 2024 as a veteran open source maintainer.

In an entertaining presentation packed with stories and wisdom, Jeremy will explore what made the BBC Micro so magical and what we can learn from it today.


Jeremy Ruston

BBC Micro Pioneer, Creator of TiddlyWiki

Jeremy started his computing career as a teenager writing articles for computer magazines, leading to a book contract when he was 15. His second book was "The BBC Micro Revealed", one of the first to expose the more arcane inner workings of the BBC Micro. It was brutally technical and frequently pointless, but was a surprising success, and made it into the Sunday Times Top 10 for a couple of weeks. His third book was published by BBC Publications, which led to Jeremy being invited to create the first official Doctor Who computer game.


Jeremy went on to work with BBC TV on a number of projects involving the BBC Micro (and later the Commodore Amiga). He produced dozens of animations for BBC Children's TV in the early 80s that were used to introduce programmes and collaborated with Richard Dawkins on the animated graphics for both of his pioneering BBC Horizon documentaries.


Jeremy gained deeper technical and management experience with a few years working as Chief Designer for a real time telecommunications company, and then joining a London investment bank in 1997 where he became Global Head of E-commerce. He left in 2000 to become CTO of a dot-com startup.

In 2004, Jeremy created TiddlyWiki, an unorthodox open source wiki with an uncompromising stance on privacy and autonomy. TiddlyWiki quickly became popular, with a vibrant community creating an ecosystem around it. The late Joe Armstrong was an enthusiastic supporter of TiddlyWiki, and collaborated with Jeremy on a book about it.


In 2007, Jeremy’s company Osmosoft was acquired by BT and he joined as Head of Open Source Innovation. Until 2011, he ran a small, radically open team within BT with the mission of getting better value from open source through more active participation in it.


Since leaving BT, Jeremy has continued to lead the TiddlyWiki project, supported by consultancy work for commercial clients who use TiddlyWiki. Jeremy enjoys coding every day and has no intention of retiring.

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Monday Apr 8 / 09:00AM BST ( 1 hours )


Fleming + Whittle (3rd Fl.)