SuperBeam has been available as a commercial software package since 1989 and some of the original buyers are still using it. But long before we started selling it, what became SuperBeam was a basic beam design program running on my PET, BBC, then PC computers. Here's how it all began ...

How it all began

During the late 1970s the first home computers started to appear. In 1979 Barnet College (North London) advertised a two-day course on their use and I signed up. Two students were assigned to each PET computer. Fortunately for me, my partner - another Chartered Surveyor - decided at the end of day one that this was not for him, and he'd rather spend day two earning money. So I had a computer to myself and no one to hold me back. I was hooked! Just down the road from the college was CompShop and on the first evening I looked through their windows like a child looking into a toyshop. Here is one of their double spreads from a March 1980 issue of Computing today. The Commodore PET and Tandy TRS80 were probably the best known computers at the time.

CompShop advert page 1

If you were handy with a soldering iron you could build your own computer ... I wasn't, so didn't!

CompShop advert page 2

ad from CompShop, 14 Station Road, New Barnet, Herts. EN5 1QW

For more computers of yesteryear visit

I came back from the course and took out a bank loan to buy myself one of the first 32K large keyboard PET computers - as pictured above. Mine cost around £1000 including the not very optional cassette recorder at £55. As a Christmas present to myself I then shelled out £400 for a printer. More on the Commodore PET at and at the Centre for Computing History, Cambridge.