Yesterday I had the unexpected privilege of meeting a gentlemen, who (over twenty years ago, and with a team of mates) built what I can only describe as a "clone" of the BBC Micro (actually he/they made forty of them). The surviving example lives in his garden shed, and (at first glance) could be mistaken for an Acorn Atom (the predecessor to the BBC Micro that had so impressed the BBC Computer Literacy Project people). That was because the function keys were grey, rather than the familiar red. But upon closer inspection, I could see that the BBC-like casing was made of fibre-glass. And then, when the lid was lifted ... guess what? The board inside was definitely "home grown". It was nothing like the usual Beeb. Brilliant!

Later (in the guy's den), I was shown the original artwork used for etching the board, plus two (unpopulated) boards in perfect condition. Yes, the guy had designed it himself, after studying the Model B from 1983. He was surprisingly modest about all of this, but did admit to one or two "improvements" above and beyond the original Model B design. Extra ROM slots, for example. I was surprised also to learn that this endeavour has never been published as an article in any of the magazines (and, that it seems, it likely to remain the case).

Of course, after seeing all this, my real question (like yours, no doubt) was "why" (that is, why go to the trouble of cloning the Beeb)? To "build a better mousetrap"? To produce a 200 Beeb (they were 400 back then, don't forget)? But, time was getting short (and I had other business to conduct), so I have yet to get a reply to that burning question. But, when you think about it, and considering the "cloning" of the PC that occurred eight or ten years later (leading to Wintel conquering the world, and all the rest), the guy and his pals had been somewhat ahead of the game (if only they had realised that, and pursued the idea with vigour)! Yes, there are some amazing people about! smile

If you don't inspect ... don't expect.