Who Made the BBC Microcomputer?

Like most other computer companies, Acorn sub-contracted the manufacturing of the BBC Micro to various firms. Acorn’s contract with the BBC specified that there must be at least two sources of production. Acorn chose Cleartone and ICL. Additional companies were engaged when production capacity was insufficient to meet demand, or to fulfill orders in other markets.

With updated revisions and new models being introduced during the course of the BBC Micro’s life, no single manufacturer ever produced all model variants. For example, there are no Issue 2 machines made by Race because they started manufacturing after these models were discontinued.

The manufacturer of any BBC Microcomputer can be determined from the serial number label, if it is still attached to the machine after all this time. Earlier machines also have a label on the PCB, which usually has a better chance of surviving.

The table below shows which models were produced by each manufacturer.

Issues and Models Produced by Each Manufacturer

ManufacturerMfr.Issue 1Iss. 1Issue 2Iss. 2Issue 3Iss. 3Issue 4Iss. 4Issue 7Iss. 7Model B ExportB Exp.B+/B+ 128KB+/ 128Master SeriesMaster Compact
Rank Xerox

Detailed information about production volumes can be found on the how many made page, but it is useful to show the relative outputs of each manufacturer here. The graph below compares the total number of 8-bit Acorn machines produced by all manufacturers.

Total Production by Manufacturer0100,000200,000300,000400,000500,000600,000ABRace07WongICLRank XeroxKeltekCleartoneSCL21ANB100092506Dolphin

AB Electronics were clearly the main producer of 8-bit Acorn computers, helped by the fact that they were the only firm to build the Master Series computers. Rank Xerox and manufacturer ‘25’ only produced the Master Compact, so their output is quite low. Let’s have a look at the production volumes for just the BBC Model A/B:

Total Model A/B Production by Manufacturer050,000100,000150,000200,000250,000300,000ABRace07WongICLKeltekCleartone21ANB1000906

AB’s output is still almost equal to all other manufacturers’ combined. Wong drops below ICL because the export-specification Model Bs which they built are excluded from the total.

BBC Micro Model A/B Manufacturers