Can you fix a BBC Micro? A Bletchley Park museum needs your help

BBC Micros
BBC Micros at The National Museum of Computing.

The National Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park is appealing for volunteers who can keep its collection of 1980s BBC Micro computers up and running. Museum staff say the Micros are "one of the most popular parts" of its interactive workshops.

Visiting students won't be able to experiment with BASIC or enjoy the chunky colourful graphics if the machines fall into disrepair, however. They might be a world away from the laptops and tablets of today, but they remain an important milestone in the history of the personal computer.

If you want to lend a hand you're going to need to be comfortable with the 8-bit machine and its associated monitors and disk drives. The TNMOC's Chris Monk told the BBC he wants to "keep the cluster alive as long as we can" for future generations to enjoy.

Fixer upper

According to current volunteer Owen Grover the machines are relatively easy to repair, having been built with classroom use in mind. Volunteers will have to replace components and unstick keys.

"The main problem we need to sort out is the power supply," says Grover. "There are two capacitors that dry out and if we do not replace them they tend to explode and stink the place out."

Surprisingly, getting spares for the 30-year-old BBC Micros is still fairly easy, as they contain few custom-built parts - trying to find an iPad Air 2 power switch in 2045 may not be so straightforward.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.