O Level Computer Studies (for 1985)

I took AEB O level Computer Studies in 1985. For those of you under 50 who don't remember life before GCSEs, GCSE O ("Ordinary") Levels were level 2 qualifications, roughly equivalent to a higher-tier GCSE. They were graded A-E, with C or above being considered a pass. There were also CSEs, which were similar to foundation-tier GCSEs, and they had numbered grades (although 1 was the highest). A grade 1 at CSE was considered to be equivalent to a grade C at O level. Exam boards had different names in those days, with AEB and JMB being amongst the most common.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a complete AEB O level paper from this period, but I have found a CSE Computer Studies paper from 1984.  What you will find below are links to scans of my Computer Studies folder from when I was following the AEB O level course.  I was at a state comprehensive school in Staffordshire, and there was no National Curriculum in those days, so we had no prior experience of computing or programming (at school).  In fact, when I started the course, the school only had three computers - an RM 380Z and two 480Zs.

Course Notes

I scanned the notes by feeding them through the photocopier a section at a time, so apologies for any blank sheets or things that are in the wrong order.  As a current teacher, the thing that immediately strikes me is that the notes are almost-entirely handwritten - it looks like even the practice exam questions were copied down from the blackboard.  The few handouts we had were mostly produced using a spirit duplicator (hence the purple writing).

The above notes were in a ring binder.  There was an additional folder containing the following:

Revision and Exams


Unfortunately I don't have the coursework because it was sent off and never seen again.  I have a print-out of some of the code for one of the projects, but this is on tractor-feed continuous stationery so isn't easy to scan.  Note the beautifully commented and indented code - I don't think that maintainability was in the specification in those days.

I seem to recall that we had to write three programs.  I created:

These were programmed at home in BBC BASIC on an Acorn Electron and, because it didn't have a "print screen" facility, I wrote a fourth program that printed out what was on the screen using my Epson MX-80 dot-matrix printer.