back to article Radiohead hides ZX Spectrum proggie in OK Computer re-release

Rock deities Radiohead have snuck a program for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum into a re-release of their seminal 1997 album “OK Computer”. Dubbed “OKNOTOK”, the re-release can be had as £100/US$130/€120 boxed edition that includes three vinyl records, books galore and “a C90 cassette mix tape compiled by us, taken from OK COMPUTER …

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Re: C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way of storing Speccy programs and data

The Bank of England's inflation calculator says I would have paid £9.13½ (remember those?) for that in 1982 if it were the same price.

I guess that would have been one way to wipe out piracy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way of storing Speccy programs and data

I used to get mine from boots.

http://www.dataserve-retro.co.uk/contents/en-uk/d186.html

Apparently £1.75, cheap as chips.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way of storing Speccy programs and data

UK inflation was so high circa 1980 (over 20%!!) that there would have been quite a difference with prices even just one year either way

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MZS

Re: C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way of storing Speccy programs and data

I've just checked on an inflation calculator

29.95 today would have been 10.49 in 1985 or 9.43 in 1983.

That was more than a weeks worth of pocket money for me back then.

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Re: C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way of storing Speccy programs and data

I still play my SA90s I recorded in the 70s on my car cassette player. Plus all those 10 Baht rip offs from Khao San Road that were inresistable. CDs are too awkward to use in a car.

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Re: C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way of storing Speccy programs and data

Your car cassette player could record?

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The old ways aren't always the best ...

... but sometimes they do bring a smile to the faces of jaded old sysadmins.

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Trollface

Are you sure it's an app and not the band just tuning up?

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TRT
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It's too old to be an app. It's definitely a program.

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Happy

How very Radiohead...

That's put a smile on my face on this Monday morning...

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...prevelent and popular

Not for "OK Computer"! Maybe for the other albums listed, though.

The Spectrum was launched in 1982, and by the time 1997 came around, it had had it's last gasp, having been sold off to Amstrad, and milked to death way before then,

Reading the Wikipedia article, it would appear that the last model launched was in 1987, and the line finally killed off in 1990.

Thinking back, that did seem like a short life, but the late 80s and 90s belonged to the games console, and the home PC market was left to the C64 and derivatives (this probably had the longest product life of all home PCs), the Amiga and Atari ST, and the more affordable IBM PC clones.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ...prevelent and popular

No, the article states that production of the Spectrum +3 (a post-Amstrad variant with a built-in disk drive) ceased in 1990 (#). The Spectrum +2B (the version with built-in tape) continued until 1992, which sounds about right.

But it would have been very dated by then. By 1997 it was already something from a previous era (this being around the time the fully 3D PlayStation 1 was achieving mass success).

(#) I don't recall the +3 ever being that big a hit. The Spectrum continued to sell despite having dated badly by the late 80s because it had a massive userbase of cheap games (and playground pirate potential). £199 for the +3 version was too expensive for the kids and edging into comparisons with the 16/32-bit 512KB Atari ST (£299 by this time).

In fact, it apparently launched at £249- I can only assume that Amstrad was caught out by Atari reducing the ST to £299 around the same time.

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Re: ...prevelent and popular

Amstrad seemed convinced there was a new untapped market of people willing to use a Spectrum for business if only the right computer was launched, in addition to those that already used it for that with Microdrives and the Disciple/Plus D, so the +3 (odd 3" discs Sugar bought from the back of a lorry, CP/M support, and incompatibilities with previous models) came out.

Then he put the Sinclair badge on generic PCs, ensuring that absolutely nobody would buy them either.

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Re: ...prevelent and popular

I seem to recall those 3" discs were nice and reliable. Though I admit he did probably find a few skiploads of them somewhere, unwanted by anyone else. I had an Amstrad PCW 8512 - which was great for my first go at word processing. Ah the joyous noise of a dot matrix printer... I could even play Graham Gooch's Test Match Cricket on it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ...prevelent and popular

"Amstrad seemed convinced there was a new untapped market of people willing to use a Spectrum for business"

Are you sure that was their intention? Amstrad's own Z80-based PCW line- aimed at the same "affordable word processor / office system at a fraction of the cost of an x86 PC" niche- was already established and successful by the time the +3 came out.

It would also have been far more suited to serious use, with 80 (actually 90) column display and 720x256 graphics; the Spectrum +3 still had the original's limited 32-column display(!) and 256x192 resolution.

Apparently, yes, the +3 *could* run CP/M (as you suggest), but I don't see any real indication that it was marketed as a productivity system, or anything other than a games machine. It wouldn't have made sense to do so anyway- why compete against themselves with a system less suited for the purpose?

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Re: ...prevelent and popular

The Spectrum was pretty much done at the +2. If almost then everyone used the Spectrum for games then there was no need to make it more expensive than necessary.

Amstrad took a computer which was perfectly good at what it did, added hardware which wasn't needed, introduced incompatibilities, and upped the price so it was little cheaper than the 16-bit computers.

The disc drive should really have been separate but widely available, i.e. like the C64.

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The ZX Spectrum does not have 'apps'.

It has 'programmes'.

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TRT
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Re: The ZX Spectrum does not have 'apps'.

UK spelling. For The Great British Computer...

Oooh... now, there's a thought... The Great British Code Off... Right, BBC, that's £1.4m in rights fees please... although it IS a bit more 11pm Wednesday evening on BBC2 than 7pm Saturday evening BBC1 Primetime... so I'll settle for £20 and one of Nadiya's fruit flans.

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Re: The ZX Spectrum does not have 'apps'.

"so I'll settle for £20 and one of Nadiya's fruit flans."

I'd just settle for a drink with Candice to be honest.

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Re: The ZX Spectrum does not have 'apps'.

However the Spectrum went with the American spelling as it was a computer program (watch vid).

And it saved two bytes... they don't make operating systems like that any more.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The ZX Spectrum does not have 'apps'.

IIRC "apps" used to be simply short for "applications" or "application software", i.e. mainly referring to what might also be called "productivity software".

The Spectrum *did* have some of this, especially in the early days when it still had more of a serious hobbyist/non-gamer following (and people probably hadn't realised how limited word processing and spreadsheets would end up being on the rubber-keyed, tape-based Speccy!)

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Re: The ZX Spectrum does not have 'apps'.

Program was the original English spelling, but Programme was used on Victorian entertainment posters to bring a little faux French glamour. Personally, I use program in a computer context, and programme in an arts and entertainment context - but that's just me.

The Americans use program, and indeed a lot of American spellings were a deliberate attempt to remove the French influence (eg Colour color, vapour vapor) from their English.

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Happy

Re: The ZX Spectrum does not have 'apps'.

It's not just you... I've a yellowed cutting of a letter I wrote the local paper in 1983 complaining about "computer programmes". ("Play School is a programme..." I snorted, snotty proto-troll smartarse that I was at age 14 :> )

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Re: The ZX Spectrum does not have 'apps'.

"and indeed a lot of American spellings were a deliberate attempt to remove the French influence (eg Colour color, vapour vapor) from their English."

Actually, that's horseshit.

The Americans did not change their language, they still speak English as we did. However, after the Americans successfully claimed independence, we told them they had to stop using our language. You know them bloody Americans though, stood in defiance of us AGAIN and told us they were keeping the language.

So there was only one thing for us to do, change OUR language. The addition of 'U's from France etc occurred after America gained independence as our way of getting back at them.

Typically flawed British thinking, but hey, nothing changes.

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Re: The ZX Spectrum does not have 'apps'.

It was Webster who chose spelling which would be different from British English.

Noah Webster's Spelling Reform

Thanking you...

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Happy

Nice to see that the Speccy is not dead yet. :)

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Looks like like Radiohead are doing their best to finish it off with crap like that

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Even the ZX80 and ZX81 are still going with an enthusiast community behind them. You can buy expanders that allow sound and use and SD card for storage, and there is even a kit built multi ZX emulator available that covers the variants of the ZX81, 80 and their clones.

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Not dead yet

Vintage Computer Collector: 'Ere, he says he's not dead.

Random Reg Commentard: Yes he is.

ZX Spectrum: I'm not.

Vintage Computer Collector:: He isn't.

Random Reg Commentard Well, he will be soon, he's very ill.

ZX Spectrum: I'm getting better.

Random Reg Commentard No you're not, you'll be stone dead in a moment.

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Flashing screen, crap everywhere ---

--bollocks, reload, again!

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Radiohead "Nude" on Spectrum

This was a rather good project with a Spectrum and some other old IT:

https://vimeo.com/1109226

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Boffin

"I'm hearing structure... "

Was I the only one who discovered that if you held your tape recorder's "play" down just enough whilst fast fwd'ing or rewinding, you could fairly easily pick out the start and end of both the program header and the main data block? So if you knew the program you were after was third on the tape, just a case of counting 6 of the short sine-wave calibration tones, three short bursts of noise and three long ones, and bob's your uncle.

With a bit more practice you could pick out bitmap data (the "loading screen" still graphic to display for the five or ten minutes the main game, er, program took to load), followed by the shorter low-res colour data. ISTR uncompressed text also had a characteristic aural quality. Sometimes you would hear a big blob of bitmap in the middle of a game and knew there was some sort of congratulations / "You Have Penetrated!" reward screen if you completed the game. These could even be extracted and displayed, with a lot of PEEKing and POKEing.

Wonder what I'd be doing now if Dad hadn't saved that unprecedented £125 for our 16K rubber key original. Probably something more like what normal kids ended up doing, the ones who went out and got socialised whilst I spent all day hunched over hot ABS plastic...

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Re: "I'm hearing structure... "

"You Have Penetrated!"...

Leisure Suit Larry?

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Re: "I'm hearing structure... "

Many slightly better tape recorders had a Cue and Review feature, where if you had play pressed, you could use rewind and forward fast to move the tape. My slimline Panasonic had this, and you could hear, as you said, the tape rushing past. For the BBC Micro, with it's checksum system, it allowed you to recover from mis-read blocks, by re-winding a short distance and tweaking the volume.

I had to add a motor control to it for my BBC micro, but that involved putting a mono 2.5mm jack socket in line on the motor wire, but that was easy enough.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Penetrator

Penetrator, with hindsight, a rather disturbing name, but the first Spectrum game I was given, and quite fun (and it had a built-in landscape editor so you could make your own mission!).

Well, not including the epic Horizons demo tape included with every Spectrum, of course…

http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseekid.cgi?id=0003649

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Meh

Re: Penetrator

"Penetrator, with hindsight, a rather disturbing name"

Wasn't the world innocent back then!

(I thought nostalgically.)

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Anonymous Coward

lot of negative comments

Radiohead is pretty awesome. I love how they don't cave into cowards like that old senile guy that used to sing for Pink Floyd whatever his name was.. All I can figure is there are a lot of bad programmers feeling threatened from a Rock Group.. Trust me,. Radiohead makes lot more money than any of you do so they won't be taking your bad programming jobs..

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Re: lot of negative comments

Bad troll. No cookie.

(Oh, wait ... it's a serious AC, isn't it? Now that is sad ... )

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Unhappy

Waiting for the tape to load

This is what you can do while waiting for a cassette tape to load!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AL2NhhtIFPw

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Anonymous Coward

Nervously anticipating the Tim Follin collaboration, and a rendition of the album in glorious 1-bit buzzing.

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I am probably wrong, but I keep thinking that sounds like a very out of time version of 'No Surprises'

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MrT
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Pint

That tune brings back memories...

...especially that section in the video from 1:21 to 1:25 - absolute classic Radiohead...

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Radiohead guitarist/keyboardist Jonny Greenwood made those sounds...

...on his guitar!

I was very impressed when I thought he had actually coded a Spectrum program onto tape by playing the actual sounds on his guitar.

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I remember buying a 12" single in the early 80's which had a BBC B program on the B side which was a video for the A side. It was a pretty awful video. Can't remember who it was by. It's really bugging me.

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shakin stevens did it first - included a speccy game on one of his albums.

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Anonymous Coward

Is there enough electricity in Gaza to run this?

Just asking? I think they're down to an hour a day

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