Way back when, when I was 11 years old, my mum, sister and I embarked on a trip to the UK to see my cousins who had spent a year in Europe.
I remember arriving via Worldways from Toronto to London Gatwick, to see my mother walk up to some man unknown to me, giving her a hug and a kiss. This man would be one of the highlights of that trip was meeting my grandfather’s brother – Uncle Reggie as we called him, although I guess technically he’d be great uncle.
I digress. Uncle Reggie fascinated me. He lived in or near Farnborough which is home to the UK’s best airshow, had been a test pilot, apparently contributed to the design of Concorde, and was an inventor, from what I remember.
I remember my cousin Tim mentioning that Uncle Reggie had a computer like an Apple ][, but it wasn’t. It turned out to be a BBC Micro.
I don’t recall how long I spent playing around with his television or the BBC Micro, but I certainly wanted to know more about it. It was a neat piece of kit.
Unfortunately BBC Micros were not big here in Canada because it would have been fun to trade programs and ideas back and forth with Reg. I had “the other British computer” – a Sinclair ZX81 (rebranded as a Timex Sinclair 1000) – $69.99 in 1983 wasn’t bad for a computer. Dad had also soon upgraded us to a Commodore 64.
Unfortunately Uncle Reggie passed away a few years later, but he always comes to mind every now and then especially whenever I think of the British computing scene in the 80s.
When I was studying in Norwich, I briefly had a chance to see an Acorn Archimedes running – A really cool RISC-based computer based on the famous ARM processor that runs iPhones, BlackBerries, Androids, and other devices.
The 80s, computer-wise, was a magical time, much like how younger friends of mine reminisce about gaming in the 90s.
Not only was Dad and my actual Uncle, Roger, major influences on me, but Uncle Reggie was my third influence.
I really like the fact that the Raspberry PI project is starting up a resurgence in homebrew computing again. May legions of children and even adults, learn or relive great moments in computing again.