If you ever think about what it was like to code in the 8-bit glory days but shudder at the era’s inconveniences, Dominic Pajak created a Twitter bot you need to know about.
The BBC Micro Bot allows anyone interested to tweet 280 characters worth of BBC BASIC instructions which will be run on an 8-bit emulator in the cloud. The bot will reply with a GIF showing your program running. This has led to a huge collection of fascinating demos available to browse at the project’s site.
For those unfamiliar with coding in BBC BASIC (most of us at this point?) the site features a nice primer on the language including a short history of its creation. Advanced users can visit the project on GitHub where they can find tips on taking advantage of additional commands and reducing code size.
Before you have to ask—the programming guide points out that the bot checks code against a strict obscenity filter and blocks offenders under the reasonable assumption that auto-generating bad word GIFs is a sure bet to get on Twitter’s bad side.
According to the @bbcmicrobot Twitter account, the entire operation initially ran on a Raspberry Pi in a garage. Since that time, the program has moved to Amazon Web Services.
While the whole thing is mostly for fun, BBC BASIC still has a loyal following with versions and tools still in active development. Many users find it to be a perfect fit for the Raspberry Pi.
Todd Mitchell is a US Midwest-based comedy writer and game developer with bylines at Weekly Humorist, Fanbyte, Slackjaw, End of the Bench Sports, and more. He’s the author of Inside Video Game Creation, the founder of CodeWritePlay, and host of the GameDev Breakdown podcast. Follow him on Twitter @Mechatodzilla.