This is my BBC Model B machine, complete with 5.25" 40 track floppy disc drive. The drive is not in terribly good shape (i.e. missing its case and comes with scary Jerry-rigged wiring), and the Beeb is minus any case screws, but it is a working machine I was given for free. At the time they came out however I (or rather, my parents as I was still at secondary school) couldn't afford the real deal so I got the Electron, the Beeb's little brother. As far as I can tell the BBC Model A was identical to the Model B, except it had half the memory (16K and 32K RAM respectively). The Beeb was much more upgradable than my Electron, and had things such as a user port, disc interface, printer port etc. already built in.
It had the BBC moniker confered upon it when the venerable British Broadcasting Corporation wanted to get down with this new computer stuff and looked around for a machine it could feature in a series of programmes. Legend has it that the prototype machine - called the Proton, the previous series being the Atom and a later cut-down version being called the Electron - was designed and shown to the suits at the BBC. They said it wasn't what they were looking for, and the Acorn guys went away dejected. Then one bright spark decided to spray paint the function keys the distinctive orange-red we see today to make it look more cool and dynamic. They took this machine back to the BBC - with no other changes than the slight colour change as the story was told to me - and Auntie Beeb loved it, took it on as their machine of choice. The rest, as they say, is history. There was one of these things in pretty much every primary school in the UK, and most secondary schools had more than one, but Acorn didn't want to share its technology with anyone else so more open systems like the IBM PC clones grew to dominance.