Clive Sinclair's ZX Spectrum is a quarter of a century old today. The machine that really launched the UK IT industry hit the streets of a depressed Britain on 23 April, 1982. Sinclair... er... Amstrad ZX Spectrum The Falklands War was properly kicking off, skirt-bothering Europhiles Bucks Fizz were number one with their …
Down memory lane
My brother has written this book, I think it was meant to come out a little earlier than the 25th Anniversary but
Still got mine
and it still works. Amazing how those simple games managed to hold so much promise. And how they managed to fit them in the tiny memory!
And while we're talking Manic Miner, still ingrained in my memory is the "select level" cheat - press 6031769 at the menu.
There was another game where the cheat was "somanywomen" but I can't remember what it was called...
I love it!
I love how no matter what the discussion, someone will make it Mac vs PC.
Speaking of Head Over Heels
Remake for Windows, Jon Ritman approved!
Personally I was a C64 kid, even though I'd played a speccy (who the hell spells it 'specky', noob) back in '83 when on a family holiday in Bath of England. I just found the C64 to be more to my liking - more colours, no colour clash stuff and better sonics. I deplored the CPCs and HATED the TRASH 80 with a passion (there's no way it came out before the Spectrum either - Tandy/Radio Shack never innovates - they copy and sell at a markup). As a C64'er I was always jealous of the Speccy's higher res games in monochrome, especially Vector greats like Cholo, Elite and Microprose Stunt Car Racer. Also I(i-i-i-i-i-i) Ball was better on Spectrum - probably my fave budget game of all time.
Wizball still stands as my alltime hero of gaming lore though and it was best on C64 :) *waits for combatant commentary*
The colour thing...
The Speccy produced 15 colours (if you include black) however, there were only 8 true colours as the other 8 were 'dimmed' versions of the original 8.
Hence you had cyan and a sort of smingey darker cyan etc.
To this day, if you run MSPaint on XP and count off the first 8 colours, on the bottom row of the pallette (switch the black and the grey), those were the ones supported by the Speccy. The 8 colours directly below were the 'dimmed' versions. (you have to sort of ignore the darker of the greys as the 'grey' was actually the dimmed white - but you know what I mean ;) ). It was basically bright primary colours and then secondary darker versions.
The pedant in me...
The pedant in me wants to point out all the factual inaccuracies in comments here. But I won't, because there's too many. All I will say is this:
Without the Spectrum, three quarters of my company's programmers wouldn't be programmers.
That's kickstarting an industry.
Oh, and Your Sinclair. Don't forget Your Sinclair.
I think that's what it was called when they extended the colour pallette via lowered intesity. Amiga and C64 could do that too from memory.
I never had a Spectrum...
... but I had a VIC-20 and used to pop round to a mate's just about every night to play on a mate's Spectrum. Jet Set Willy was the favourite game, along with Night Lore, Alien8 and Sabre Wulf.
Some might be interested in this genius link that celebratesthose halcyon days: http://www2.b3ta.com/heyhey16k/
15 colours good, 256 colours better... (and no attribute clash!)
Ever wondered what Spectrum games would look like without the infamous colour clash? Well some clever folks in the Speccy emulation scene actually 'fixed' the problem.
(These are genuine Spectrum programs, with a 256 colour overlay applied by the emulator).
Good and Bad memories
Good : Anything by Ultimate play the game: Jet Pac et al. Fighter Pilot, Tomahawk and the excellent Lords of Midnight. Elite eventually arrived too.
Bad: Waiting 20 minutes to play a game and then seeing the dreaded "R: Tape loading error" followed by a 'new'.
Somebody already mentioned
the colour codes for Jet Set Willy. (that was a long weekend copying all those out into shorthand, I can tell you), but who remembers the dastardly Lenslock system that was employed on Elite? If anybody diddled Lenslock, I'd be interested to know.
Fave games? 3D Ant Attack and Skooldaze!
25 years of the C64 soon
The Commodore 64 was launched in April 1982.
While the Spectrum had the games and was a homegrown computer. The Commodore 64 was a much superior computer in terms of hardware.
The sound chip was designed by someone who was interested in synthesisers (so much so that he founded Ensoniq after leaving CBM). The graphics chip wasn't bad either.
Commenting on the Apple Mac comments, lets not forget the Apple Lisa was released in Jan 1983. It was a complete failure but it was one of the first GUI computers, something that is a milestone in itself.
Yes, Paul, I remember the Lenslock copy-protection very well! I got a copy of Elite on my C64, and well I remember the infuriating "head-hammering" on the old 1541 disk drive. This would always throw the heads out of alignment (yes, the old copy-protection schemes ACTUALLY DAMAGED YOUR SYSTEM), so of course I set about cracking it. It took me 3 days with a copy of the C-64 Programmers Guide (aka the "Bible"), Hesmon and Disk Disector to crack the copy-protection off, and that achievement (although I wasn't the first) gained me entry into a cracking crew (SCC/TAF).
Admittedly three days to crack a game in those days was SLOW... most crackers could bust the CP off a game in half an hour or less, and I myself did eventually get to that level. The trick was, the game houses used the same CP on many games, so it was just a matter of knowing the various CP schemes, which was made easier by the absolute addressing of the C64 - that is, code that resided at address $C000 always sat in that location every time you ran the game. So once you knew the CP scheme, you knew where to look to knock out the code.
After that, we swapped disks, demos and cracks with Euro and other Aussie crews galore. I still remember some of our contacts: ACS, TMT, WOT, WOD, Tera, Hotice. Ah, the copy-parties we used to have! We'd hire out the local school gym, invite all the cracking crews around Australia, and there'd be 40-50 harcore geeks copying each others' disk collections (no such thing as Ethernet back then, folks!), talking code and having races to see who could code the coolest demo the fastest!
Yes, I remember those days fondly. The rebellion against "the man", the ego-trips when you won a demo-comp, the thrill of "Gotcha ya bastard!" when a cracked game finally worked... oh it was fun. Yeah, I know it was wrong, but it was fun!
(God, I haven't used that handle in years! :o)
- Geek's Guide to Britain INSIDE GCHQ: Welcome to Cheltenham's cottage industry
- 'Catastrophic failure' of 3D-printed gun in Oz Police test
- Game Theory Is the next-gen console war already One?
- BBC suspends CTO after it wastes £100m on doomed IT system
- Peak Facebook: British users lose their Liking for Zuck's ad empire