I was delighted to discover recently of the existence of RISC OS pico for the Raspberry Pi.

RISC OS Pico is a stripped-down version of RISC OS for Raspberry Pi. Essentially they have stripped out the graphical user interface from the operating system leaving a Raspberry Pi that boots directly into BBC BASIC VI.

Raspberry Pi booting into RISC OS Pico, showing BASIC prompt and more RAM than you could possibly ever fill.

RISC OS is an operating system designed in Cambridge, England by Acorn. First released in 1987, its origins can be traced back to the original team that developed the ARM microprocessor. Anyone who remembers the Acorn Archimedes range of computers will be familiar with RISC OS. For a 30 year-old OS, it really was ahead of its time. RISC OS in now owned by Castle Technology Ltd. You can find my adventures with RISC OS lurking on this blog.

RISC OS Pico boots very quickly (about eight seconds on my Raspberry Pi 2 between pressing SHIFT+BREAK and getting the BASIC prompt) as shown in this video (running on an early model Pi):

Installation is very easy. You simply extract the ZIP archive onto an SD card with FAT format.  The hardest part is finding an SD card that can be formatted in FAT format (not FAT-32).

Once loaded you have a computer that boots directly to BASIC, leaving you with a rather silly amount of RAM available for your programs - thousands of times more memory than available on the original BBC microcomputers, and of course a much faster processor.  BBC BASIC VI is rather more advanced that BASIC IV on the BBC Master, with greater graphics capability and some extra commands such as WHILE...ENDWHILE and CASE...ENDCASE structures.

The distribution comes with some example programs and a guide to writing BASIC programs for RISC OS.  There is no other documentation supplied (unless I am looking in all the wrong places) so you will have to figure stuff out for yourself.

Setting the time is achieved through the BASIC command:

TIME$ = "16 Sep 2016.18.51.00"

Or whatever the current time is for you, although you will be disappointed if you do not have an on-board battery backup, which sadly the Pi does not yet have (the clock resets to 1970 when you power down).

Retrieving the time is achieved through either printing this variable, or the operating system call:


Other nice features I have discovered so far:

There is a BASIC editor program that beats the BBC Master.  Simply type 'EDIT'.  Options are selected using the function keys:

f1 - OS command
f2 - LOAD program
f3 - SAVE program
f4 - Search and edit
f5 - Search and replace
f7 - Search

A full list of function key definitions can be achieved with CTRL + f5.

There is also a full set of documentation for each of the BASIC commands.  Simply type:

HELP <command>

Well, that's it for now, because that is all I have learned so far.  I am going to continue to play with Pico, possibly try and get some BBC Master programs to run on it, so be sure to come back soon for more...

...if you are still awake, then you might like to read some more posts about the BBC Computers or RISC computers, or you might just want to play a browser-based adventure game.

#BBCBASIC #RISCOS #Pico #RaspberryPi

Perpetual Calendar app updated to include Timely

I have updated my perpetual calendar app for the BBC Master Computer.  It now includes the "Timely" app which I discussed in a previous post.

DOWNLOAD the SSD file for your BBC Master or Emulator.

The perpetual calendar (running in the emulator) showing a view of the 19th June 2019.

The full suite of programs now offers the following features:

  • A perpetual calendar which is good for the next hundred years or more, including dates of Easter, up to 365 custom recurring events or one-off calendar events.
  • A clock (available in both calendar, and "Timely" modes).
  • A timer (counts upwards in seconds).
  • A countdown (counts down in seconds).
  • Up to 6 alarms (which can be saved and reused).
  • A CMOS clock reset utility (thanks to Beebug magazine).
  • Comprehensive documentation and a help system (does not work with second processor).

The "Timely" app running on vintage BBC Master Computer, showing a 20 minute countdown.
Machine code help routine.  Bring up a list of help topics with *H, or find a specific help topic with *H <topic> Unfortunately this feature will not work with the 6502 Co-processor.

If you are still awake then you might want to read other BBC Computer related posts, or just some random programming stuff.

#BBCComputer #BBCBASIC #Programming #perpetualcalendar #time #timer #countdown #calendar #teletext

Get lost with maps too

Introducing our second instalment of awesome map apps to get lost in right now. If you missed the first post, you can grab it here.

The planet's history of violence

There is no denying it. We are one bloodthirsty species. With this app from Nodegoat you can discover all of mankind's battles in one interactive map. The data has been scraped off Wikipedia for all articles relating to a battle that has both a location and a date. Using the app you can focus on a particular country or historical period, or change the slider and watch the carnage unfold.  If you like this app then you might also like the video at the end of this post.

Visions of the Ring

Frodo and Strider, on their way for a pint at Bree.
Ever read Lord of the Rings and felt the need to track both Frodo's journey and the location of the Ringwraiths simultaneously? Well, probably not, but now you can anyway, with Visions of the Ring thanks to Hayoo. With this app you can plot the timeline of the classic book and the location of the main protagonists and antagonists, thanks to some careful research using the Appendix and other sources. Definitely plus one geek experience point awarded to Hayoo.

Solar Beat

Solar beat, like a big cosmic record player, far out, maaaan!
What is the sound of the solar system? Whitevinyl design present Solar beat, a musical orrery. Watch the orbits of the planets around the sun, each one making a different tone as it passes a line from the sun in to interstellar space (which presumably represents the first of January). The result is a haunting and beautiful melody.  Do check it out now. You can alter the speed at which time passes in this solar system, and the number of years that have elapsed is displayed on the dashboard at the bottom.

European Countries Quiz

Some are easy to spot, but I did struggle to find Andorra.

This web app from Sheppard Software tests your knowledge of European geography.  The name of a country is displayed or spoken and it is up to you to find it on the map, scoring points for correct matches.  Sheppard Software have countless other fun educational quizzes on their site.


A typical rainy day in Lancashire.
Ventusky is a brilliant animated weather map app with plenty to play around with from rain, snow cover wind speed etc.

Hurricane Hermine battering the coast of America right now

Video time

The world population has grown by 0.8 billion people over the past decade.  This number is equivalent to more than the population of the United Kingdom each year, or four Americas each decade. Watch the World's population grow from 1CE to the present day and beyond in under 6 minutes.

Isao Hashimoto's map shows a time lapse of every atomic explosion from 1945-1998 with the size of the dot proportional to the atomic yield of the explosion.

Watch a timelapse of every significant battle from 1000AD to the present. The size of each explosion is related to the severity of the fighting.

Perpetual calendar version 1.4

I have updated my BBC Master calendar program.

Calendar running in the BeebEm emulator

The new features are:

  • 'Green letter day' - these are custom dates that you can set so they appear as green days in the calendar.  The dates are simply stored in a text file and you can add a single string of 38 characters to describe the event/day, for example "Auntie Maggie's birthday".  Dates can be set as either one-off events, or annual events.
  • The calendar automatically updates when the date changes in real time.  For example, if you are watching the calendar on the 30th November, late at night, the calendar will switch to 1st December at midnight.
  • Clock has been added. A simple depiction of the current time, which updates every five seconds.
  • Months in the future are depicted in green, and the past is depicted as red.
  • I have included an example data file (D.data) which includes some 'green letter days'.

In the future I may add the ability to add multiple events for each day.  I would have to change the underlying data structure so that events are stored as a linked-list, but I would also have to think about how the events all fit on the screen.

You can download the single-sided disc image for your BBC Master datacentre or for your emulator.

  • Hold <SHIFT> and press <BREAK> to load.  
  • To load the documentation: CH."docs".
  • The dates data file is D.data and should be edited in your text editor *EDIT D.data