MicroBee – A "little bee" from the land of koalas

The John von Neumann Computer Society (NJSZT) not only maintains a world-standard exhibition on computer history but also makes continuous enhancements to it.

However, there must be a "heavy reason" for adding new items to our exhibition, which was created on the basis of the concept described in the book entitled A jövő múltja [The Past of the Future]. For instance, there would be no point in aiming at completeness in the case of home computers manufactured in the 1980’s since the most important models are already on display at our exhibition.

There are, however, a few pieces that are so valuable and rare that it would be wrong not to put them on public display… Because it is difficult to resist the temptation if a bee flies here all the way from Australia.

This "little bee" is a MicroBee Series 2 Advanced Personal Computer, which has been on display for our visitors to see since February. The machine was donated by the engineer István Bíró, the former general director of IDG Hungary. István Bíró used to be a trade representative of a company called Medicor around the turn of the 1970s and 1980s and worked in Australia, where his medical programmes attracted attention. The developer team of Microbee, a local computer manufacturer, also took notice of his medical applications and contacted István Biró to ask him to write programmes for their company too. Biró also made some development proposals for the model that was under development at the time.

The exhibited type of Microbee was manufactured in 1983, and Biró received one as a complementary gift with detailed documentation intended for internal use. And now time has come for the general public to see this home computer, which is almost unknown in Hungary.

The Microbee range of computers, tailored to ordinary people’s needs and offering an excellent way of learning, constitutes an important part of Australia’s computer history. The logo with the bee, which was dear to Australian school children, is the favourite of a generation just like the Sinclair and Commodore brands in Europe. Founded by Owen Hill in the 1970s, Applied Technology opened the era of commercially sold computers with this family of computers in Australia. And thanks to István Bíró, this microcomputer also constitutes a tiny bit of Hungary’s computer history now.

The exotic machine from the land of koala’s can be viewed on the upper floor of our Exhibition on Computer History.


The detailed technical description of the machine can be read here (in Hungarian):

http://ajovomultja.hu/exhibition/microbee-series-2-advanced-personal-computer?language=hu

The website of the still existing manufacturer: https://www.microbeetechnology.com.au/aboutus.htm

 

Gábor Képes