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A Story or The Secret of Customer Relations

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Robin, Mar 13, 2007.

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  1. Robin

    Robin Guest

    In 1981 I started mending the "BBC Micro" as a buisiness having got
    experience and contacts by previously working for Acorn Computers.

    Local shops and private customers and Acorn used to send me machines
    to fix. By that time I had fixed a *lot* of machines, so many that a)
    No one believed it. b) I had seen "every" fault several times e.g.
    there was a worse-case design fault that only I knew off (I collected
    five machines over a year with the same fault and eventually "found"
    the problem by changing every IC: there are over a hundred in a fully
    populated board + two ULAs - they all had a Texas chip in a certain
    place which, when replaced by a National part "fixed" it, the Texas
    part was faster so I emulated the Nat' effect by slewing ph1 with 100p
    cap ).

    One of the ULAs, the "video" ULA was originally notorious for a
    certain problem that occurred when it got hot but most were replaced
    by 1982.

    In 1983, a chap who worked for a local shop brought in the usual
    weekly delivery of about a dozen machines and pushed one toward me
    saying "It's the video ULA".

    Now I *knew* that it wasn't and also non-thinking sheep-like psuedo
    tech-talk like this annoys me so I said "Oh no it isn't" and proceeded
    by "fixing" the above worse-case design fault (adding 100p to phi one)
    and then heated the board with a heat gun - it had no effect so I took
    the mod off and then ran my three proven memory tests again with the
    board hot - they had no effect so I had no option but to try a new
    video ULA and it worked.

    So for the next two years Billy, for that is his name, never let me
    forget it. "Need any help fixing computers Robin? Heh heh." "Had any
    duff ULA's today! Heh heh." etc.

    All this grief could have been avoided by my saying to Billy, at the
    outset "Hey, the video ULA? I never thought of that. Let's give it a
    try." But Billy knew me for the vain idiot that I am and so probably
    set this as a trap from the beginning :(

    So the moral of this story is: If a customer says "xyz jumped off the
    table and squirted cider in my ear." Then I for one will believe them,
    if only for my *own* protection.

  2. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    No you didn't. It didn't even exist until later in thar decade.

  3. The machine was released as the BBC Microcomputer in late 1981 and
    became affectionately known as the Beeb
    (from a Wiki)

  4. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    Yes I saw that too.

    It didn't 'take off' until ~ 1993 when the model B was introduced. I'm very
    familiar with it btw.

    I have some difficulty believing that the OP was mending BBC micros in 1981.
    That would infer they failed instantly. I know they didn't. They were highly

  5. Robin

    Robin Guest

    Oh yes I did. And oh yes it did.

  6. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest


    ** Ignore the cretin called Eeyore

    ( = Graham Stevenson, 50ish, obese, obnoxious ex DJ & geek )

    He just loves to argue from a position of total ignorance

    - cos it is his natural one.

    ....... Phil
  7. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    You mean all the model As instantly went belly up ?

    I did hear they didn't have the smartest linear PSU design.

  8. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    Did *you* ever write programmes for the BBC B ? I'll venture you didn't. Nor did
    you attach lots of extra hardware either such as bit-pads with wands and CLUT
    video adaptors.

    I wrote a kind of 'paint' programme for the BBC micro before such a thing even
    existed for the IBM PC.

  9. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest


    ** See what I mean ??

    A 100% nut case.

    ........ Phil
  10. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    I rather think it's more than you've ever done !

    The 'bit-pad' was a nice Calcomp jobbie btw. It was a pig working out which way
    Acorn had oriented the 4 pin ? DIN plug for the serial RS232 port since the
    manual wasn't very clear. Of course we got it going in the end.

    I never did attach a hard drive but we had twin double sided double density
    floppies connected to it (from Watford Electronics in fact).

    Hey, I still have the 'bible' too ! Posted in abse.

  11. Maybe it was all the mods that ISTR that were available from places
    like Watford Electronics that kept him in business.

    Wish I still had mine, but, I still got a Jupiter Ace somewhere

  12. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest


    ** See what I mean ??

    A 100% nut case.

    ........ Phil
  13. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    Keep picking up the coconuts. It suits you.

  14. Paul Burke

    Paul Burke Guest

    I was using the BBC model B back in the dark ages, before 1985 when I
    went solo. There was a time when the shibboleth of computer savvy was
    knowing all the *FX commands off by heart. Needless to say I never did.
    Are you thinking of the Archimedes?

    Paul Burke
  15. John Fields

    John Fields Guest

    You base what you write on what you "heard"? You ought to try
    sticking to what you know something about.

    Oh, wait... That would mean you wouldn't be able to write about
    _anything_, LOL!
  16. John Fields

    John Fields Guest

  17. Robin

    Robin Guest

    There were two linear PSU's. A little hot sweaty one in a riveted box
    that could just about power a model A on a cold day and a larger one
    with a, properly rated toroidal mains transformer, that could power a
    model B without thermally cutting out. The pukka "Aztec" switcher
    (that also had the extra socket for disk drives) did not appear until

    Development (in 1981) was done by plugging a "system 3" into the Beeb
    to provide e.g. disk drive support* because there was no disk
    interface, at least not until 1982.

    This is how fully working versions of Snapper (Pacman) and Planetoids
    (Defender) were developed (in 1981).


    The subsequent huge demand for the 8271 (a nigh-obsolete single
    density controller that was hastily bundled into the Beeb) caused a
    price rise to over £70 a chip in the summer of 1983 or was it 1984?
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