Blast From the Past: BBC Releases Historical '80s Computing Literacy Project

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is famous for its highly educational TV series. Back in the 1980s, the channel made a huge effort in exploring the computing world through the The Computer Literacy Project (CLP). In total, 146 CLP episodes were released, along with another 121 related episodes which have been broken down into 2,509 categorized, searchable clips. Some of those clips included interviews with major innovators, such as Microsoft's Bill Gates and Apple's Steve Wozniak. In an effort to encourage the young generation to delve more into computing, and especially programming, BBC has decided to release CLP's entire archive.

With the entire CLP archive now available, viewers can:

  • watch any of the 267 episodes
  • explore clips by topic or text search
  • run 166 BBC Micro programs that were used on-screen
  • find out the history of the Computer Literacy Project

BBC's chief technology and product officer, Matthew Postgate, said this archive offers a fascinating and nostalgic glimpse into an important milestone in the history of computing. Indeed, such a collection of videos and computer programs is invaluable to anyone that wants to learn more about how we reached the current state of computing. Surely the changes in hardware are mind-blowing (however, the same programming principles still apply).

The 1980s is among the most important periods in computer history. Besides the introduction of the first IBM PC in 1981, it's also the decade when home PCs like Commodore 64, Atari ST, Amiga 500, Amstrad 6128 and ZX Spectrum thrived, introducing computing to thousands of users, with many of them becoming the backbone of today's IT industry. So besides good music (according to our taste, at least), the '80s were a major milestone for computers as well, and BBC's CLP covers almost the entire decade (1980-1988).

If you want to experience a bit of '80s nostalgia, or if you belong to a younger generation and are just curious about this period, then you should definitely watch some CLP episodes. You can also try out any of the BBC Micro programs to get an idea of how coding was back in the day (and the graphics capabilities of those old machines).

And for more information about computer history, you can also take a look at our article, Computer History - From The Antikythera Mechanism To The Modern Era

Contributing Editor

Aris Mpitziopoulos is a Contributing Editor at Tom's Hardware US, covering PSUs.