Mastodon users are crowd-running programs on a BBC Micro emulator in 2024 and the results look as spectacular as they did in '81

BBC Micro Emulator
(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Mastodon, the social media site that seems to survive by virtue of the fact that Twitter is now rubbish, has seen a number of popular accounts from the ex-blue bird move over to its platform, where they can live out their days in relative freedom.

One such account is the BBC Micro Bot (via The Register), and it serves an interesting purpose: Feed it some BASIC via a toot (yep) and it'll handily output the result into its gallery, often with an accompanying post featuring a photo or video file of its eventual creation, and some of them are just plain gorgeous.

The BBC Micro Bot acts as an 8-bit computer emulator that interprets BBC BASIC, and for those younger members of our readership who have no idea what that means, allow me to explain. BBC BASIC is a version of the BASIC coding language, and was the native input for the BBC Micro, a personal computer (whatever one of those is) made by Acorn Computers and fondly remembered by those in the retro-computing niche.

It was fast and capable for its time, and, thanks to the fact that thousands of them ended up in British schools, for many coders it became the platform for their first baby-steps into the wonderful world of code.

Now in Mastodon-form, which is a phrase that seems like it should have been uttered in an 80s kids cartoon, many users of the site have taken to tooting their suggestions at the bot and admiring the results, and some of the images created are genuinely stunning to behold:

While I'm sure someone's tried, the thing I admire most about this is the genuine level of creativity on display, and not the expected level of tomfoolery often created when you crowdsource your inputs from the internet at large. 

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Perhaps it speaks well of the users of Mastodon, or quite possibly some sort of censorship somewhere in the process to catch any inappropriate creations, but there does seem to be a reverence here for both the concept and the eventual results.

Should you be unfamiliar with BBC BASIC and want to give it a go for yourself, there are many online tutorials that I'm told are quite wonderful. 

One of these days I'll get around to it, I tell myself, but for now I'm quite happy to sit back and admire the results on display here, safe in the knowledge that all my school education ever taught me about computing was how to build an Excel spreadsheet-based cinema booking system.

Yep, thanks guys. A career at my local Odeon was never really on the cards, was it?

Andy Edser
Hardware Writer

Andy built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 12, when IDE cables were a thing and high resolution wasn't. After spending over 15 years in the production industry overseeing a variety of live and recorded projects, he started writing his own PC hardware blog for a year in the hope that people might send him things. Sometimes they did.


Now working as a hardware writer for PC Gamer, Andy can be found quietly muttering to himself and drawing diagrams with his hands in thin air. It's best to leave him to it.