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"What was it like in olden times Daddy?"

You know you're old when they make a programme about your childhood.

I watched Micro Men on BBC4 last night, about the rivalry between Clive Sinclair and Chris Curry as they developed their home computers. Our school got a ZX80 and then a ZX81 and we got a Spectrum at home (Sinclair's machines). We also got a BBC computer (made by Curry's Acorn company) at our school. So these machines were part of my childhood. I heard names I hadn't heard for a long time like Sinclair QL, Dragon, Oric and BBC Master.

Towards the end they sit in a pub and speculate what it would have been like if they'd worked together, however I think the home computer market may still have dried up. Someone's probably done the analysis, but I guess consoles took over from these computers for games, and PCs for "serious" stuff.

One of my sons got a T-shirt yesterday that said "retro gamer" with a picture of a cassette tape on it. The tape also said 2kB. One of them asked me "is that a hundredth or a thousandth of a gigabyte?". "No, it's a millionth". I refrained from getting too nostalgic, but I could have gone on - "we didn't even have eight bit colour, we had just eight colours", etc.

I wrote a while back, not on this blog, probably on a comment on someone else's blog (note to self, keep track of your writing more), about how I used to write games for the Spectrum, and make a bit of money out of it. When I wrote it there was no easy way of doing a similar thing, as games were the preserve of companies, even if they were small ones. The barriers in developing for mobile handsets, the equivalent of those "lightweight" games we used to write, were too high. However since then, with the rise of Flash games sites, like miniclip, and lower entry barriers for iPhones and Android phones, there must be an increasing number of people out there making a bit of pocket money by writing games as a hobby. Plus the few making quite a bit more, I'm sure.


Roger Coates said…
For me it was the TI99/4A (still in the loft..) And I was already working by then.
Did send one game off to a magazine, but they didn't publish it. It was an attempt at copying 'Defender', and was probably a bit too easy.
uep said…
10 PRINT "There will always be a place in my heart for our old 128K"
20 PRINT "with it's amazing external microdrive!"
30 PRINT "Monty Mole, Head Over Heals, Chase HQ, Attic Attack and Jet Set Willy. Brilliant!"
40 PRINT "being only very small myself the only coding I tended to do mostly involved POKES and unlimited lives!"
Paul Merrill said…
I am holding on to my turntable and cassette deck, just so my kids know that life used to be different.
Paul Morriss said…
Roger, my Spectrum is in the loft too, but somewhere along the way it lost a power supply. I could get one from eBay if I really wanted.

uep - I remember Attic Attack - it was shown briefly on the TV programme. Jet Set Willy had great graphics for the time, not just 8x8 characters.

Paul, I have my "vinyls" as the boys call them, but nothing to play them on. They hear about vinyl as some dance records are still released on vinyl. One day they may get to see a black disc spinning around!

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