The BBC's Opening Up the Archives of its Computer Literacy Project

By Tom Pritchard on at

Back in the '80s the BBC launched something called the 'Computer Literacy Project', which was designed to inform and educate viewers about computers and information technology. It ran for nearly a decade, and even led to the BBC commissioning its own mini computer, the Micro, and using it to teach the principles of programming. Today the BBC admits that many of those lessons are still relevant, which is why it's opening up the Computer Literacy Project's archives to the public.

Access to the archive is completely free, and inside are all the things the BBC produced as part of the project back in the day. That includes all the BBC Micro's 166 pieces of original software, the 267 programmes broadcast as part of the project, over 2,509 clips (reachable by topic or search), and information on how the project came to be.

The project was deemed to be a success, having inspired a new generation of programmers who still work in the computing industry to this day, and in the BBC's own words "helped make Britain the most computer-literate country in the world." According to the BBC many of the lessons taught by the project are still relevant to 21st century Britain, showing just how little has changed over the past 30 years. Even back then there were worries about what effect increasing digitisation would have on employment, and how digital technology could end up influencing elections.