Microbee – a local AU computer
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The Microbee was an Australian computer designed, built, and marketed by Applied Technology, in Gosford, N.S.W. Originally released in February 1982, it was intended for the schools market but also had a wide and deep following amongst home users. A considerable amount of software was published locally for the Microbee, through Honeysoft. Many titles were games (see our entries, for instance, on Chilly Willy, Hoards of the Deep Realm, Emu Joust, Bunyip Adventure, Raft-Away River, Halloween Harry, and Jewels of Sancara Island).
Games were an important use of the Microbee, but the company explicitly encouraged users to adopt a similar playfulness and experimentation with regard to their computer itself. The Microbee was actively marketed in terms of its ability to be modified and ‘hacked’. In the 1980s, the term hacking was frequently used to describe the bringing together of various items of hardware, a sort of creative tinkering with computers, adding and extending their capabilities. The ad for the Hacker’s Handbook (published by ETI and Your Computer) pretty much sums up the attitude.
By the end of 1983, Applied Technology were extolling the benefits of the Series 2 – actually called the ‘Experimenter’ – with a remarkable advertisement featuring a robot arm (presumably interfaced with a Microbee) pouring a cup of tea for its operator.
Did you have a Microbee? What did you use yours for? Was it solely for playing games on or for writing them too? Perhaps you were into electronics? Did you hack your computer (Microbee or otherwise)? What was the computer and what did you make?