News And The Internet

By Dave E

Originally published in EUG #65

Inland Revenue Forces Closure Of 8BS Services

The 8BS web site (, regularly catering for BBC and Electron owners for the past seven years, has been forced by the Inland Revenue to remove all mention of its advertising services. In a major blow to its owner, Chris Richardson, the taxman claimed that any money made from the site would be counted as his own personal income. Furthermore, he demanded that for each service offered (e.g. selling an 8BS badge at £1!), Chris must keep and submit detailed accounts during each tax year.

It appears that Chris' protestations that the site was not for profit (as any money it generated made up only a small proportion of its maintenance costs) fell on deaf ears; the Inland Revenue remaining convinced that a lucrative trade in internal speakers and replacement 'A' keys for the BBC was allowing him to live the high life outside cyberspace. Appeasement not being possible therefore, Chris had to replace both the hardware and software pages of 8BS with simple request forms.

The sad conclusion to this story is that whole sections of the 8BS web site have now completely disappeared, with all mention of EPROM-blowing, disk duplication, not to mention special services (like a replacement battery-backed CMOS RAM module for the Master 128), pulled down literally overnight. Although Chris, fellow 8 bit obsessed loon that he is, no doubt still provides all of these services to anyone who asks, demand for them is certain to fall now they are no longer specifically mentioned. As the original Acorn hardware becomes more and more obsolete, people tend to assume it becomes more and more expensive to repair. Chris' 'old' service sections demonstrated this fallacy of this, with many replacement parts for sale at under a pound.

In an attempt to offer these services 'behind the curtain', Chris has replaced the offending pages with a Request Form so that anyone who is experiencing a BBC-related problem, can inform him of it so he can see what he can do. One suspects though that the Inland Revenue's decision that he cannot charge a fee will have affected his motivation. Presumably, a contribution to the costs of running the web site will now be asked for in return for any services provided.

Whilst there's evident argument both ways over whether 8BS ever operated as a business, whoever at the Inland Revenue decided to take such arbitrary action against possibly the most beloved site of real BBC/Electron owners doubtless feels very proud at their accomplishment.

CGE UK Throws Up Some Ultra-Unexpected Gems For Collectors

Chris Richardson, Crispin Boylan and Jeremy Grayson clubbed together to form 'The BBC Games Resources' area at the first CGE (Classic Gaming Expo) held this summer. The event was apparently well attended with a number of 'familiar faces' to be met in the flesh; Binary Dinosaurs, the Retro Gamer staff, Cronosoft and Vintage Computer all being in attendance. Also on scene was one Matthew Smith, the original creator of MANIC MINER and Jet Set Willy.

But, in a surprising side-development, while preparing the labyrinth of BBC Bs and Master 128s the three Beeb blokes were ultimately to put on display, Richard Hanson of Superior Software fame donated numerous Repton goodies to be sold at the show. These included gems such as Repton mugs, pens, keys, badges and rulers - all in perfect condition.

Needless to say, many of those bits and bobs on offer were eagerly snapped up by BBC/Elk enthusiasts. Chris does inform us that he does still have one surviving Repton 3 mug with a £10 price-tag up for grabs. As this is less than a third of the sum an identical mug recently fetched on eBay though, we suspect you'd be best contacting him sooner rather than later.

Cronosoft Releasing BBC/Electron Software Converted From The Spectrum

Cronosoft (, the home-grown software house from Simon Ullyatt (aka 'Chaosmongers'), has announced that a second brand new BBC/Electron title will be released in November 2004. Also from the programming skills of ex-EUG-contributor Chris Dewhurst, Egghead In Space is a conversion of a (48K) Spectrum game.

Cronosoft is currently gaining a steady reputation for quality software for all retro machines and Egghead, set to retail at £3.99 including P&P and already reviewed in professional publication Retro Gamer, promises great things. Apart from checking out its unique Speccy 'feel', readers might also notice its loading screen, accredited to someone called The Dave. I wonder who he is...? :-)

The rumour-mill is also working overtime with David Bradforth said to be keen to re-release some of the 4th Dimension 8-bit titles such as E-TYPE and WHITE MAGIC under the Cronosoft label. Quite whether titles that are not new will sell though (especially when they can be downloaded for free elsewhere!), we have reason to doubt.

Those Ever-Elusive Acorn Users

Anyone here remember (BBC) Acorn User? It was possibly the most serious of the magazines available for the Acorn range and started right at the beginning with the Atom and finished right at the end with the RISC and Archimedes. Of course, it took in the various Beeb models and Electron addons mid-stride, and published quite a catalogue of programs. It had, like most magazines of its ilk, type-in listings, cover cassettes of the type-in listings and special, more expensive programs to send off for. But have you noticed a great deal of these programs are still 'missing in action'? has made a start at trying to recover what must be a colossal library of routines, utilities and games and currently has a number of the discs published between 1986 and 1991 on its web site. Odd programs have also made their way into previous issues of EUG (such as the Picture Slide game in EUG #64) and sporadic appearances of tapes on eBay have contributed to the catalogue here at Acorn Electron World. (However, any missing tapes would be greatly appreciated.)

This issue of EUG also celebrates the first two famous Acorn User Gallery discs which are now both available for download and fully illustrated in the PD World section of this site. Suitable for all BBC machines, these discs fell into the 'specials' category and had to be ordered by post. More importantly though, in the bowels of the 8BS library were some more images that had appeared in the pages of the magazine over its lifespan - and we can also therefore provide a third Acorn User Gallery disc! For all of these images, visit the Galleries section.

New Team Dipping Toes Into Acorn Waters

Andy, of Andy's Arcade (Probably Andy Welburn to his friends!), recently announced a new retro software label for the BBC and Electron is in the pipeline to rival Cronosoft. To quote from his original e-mail to us:

  "My friend wrote a number of machine code games as a kid and dug them out recently in light of the revival going on in cyberspace. I remember that they were actually pretty good and one of them was going to be sold to Acornsoft. (Unfortunately they couldn't finalise the deal because my friend couldn't sign a contract as he was a minor, and couldn't let his parents know that he'd sneaked off to London to a trade show instead of going to school!) There is one large graphic RPG, five text adventures and a few arcade games, one a version of Q-Bix.

"He originally wrote them for the BBC so, once we have them transferred off the discs, we'll do Electron versions. These shouldn't be too hard for all except the graphic RPG. Oh yes, and in the meantime, between us we are working on new text adventure games too! Finally, I'll be doing some nice packaging, and we'll start selling them ... so keep an eye on the web site!"


That seems as good an indication of any that these will be physical products sent out by Direct Sale and not simply downloadable disc images. No indication has yet been given by Andy as to price.