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 …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Not saved as an autorun program?

    Shoddy work. Go back and type it in again.

    1. 45RPM Silver badge

      Re: Not saved as an autorun program?

      Given the quality of Radiohead's musical output, you'd have thought they could have paid a developer to write them a decent megademo for their Easter Egg, rather than this sub-school-playground nonsense. Bad effort, Thom. Bad effort!

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Not saved as an autorun program?

        Having read that comment I had to go back and watch the video.

        Jeez! "sub-school-playground nonsense" indeed!

        That is terrible. You cant even tell if its doing what its supposed to (without analysing the code ) as the output does , well , i dunno i'm lost for words . Is it a "Crashed spectrum program" simulator?

        or an "audio visual experience designed to offend both senses to the max" (not a wise move for a "band")?

        It's akin to Joe Pasquale's song "I know a song that will get on your nerves" except more efficient.

        The surviving spectrum community will be heaving into Miner Willy's toilet!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not saved as an autorun program?

          The ZX Spectrum (just as the ZX81, the previous Sinclair Research computer did) had an unusual feature. I would call it a clever trick. These computers run very short of memory, ranging from a few kilobytes on the ZX81 up to 48 kilobytes in the Spectrum computers manufactured before the +2 model. To save valuable bytes the character set on these computers included not only individual characters (as we would expect on any recent computer) but also complete BASIC keywords (e.g. "RANDOMIZE", "INKEY$", "INK", "PAPER", "VAL$", "FLASH", "PEEK", "POKE", ...) coded as a single byte each. Just think on the memory saving from coding "PRINT" as a single byte (or "token", in the ZX Spectrum slang) when compared to "PRINT " (six bytes, including space) as individual characters as we are accustomed to see today.

          It is what we can see on the video, a random display of standard ASCII characters, plus the additional keywords coded in the control codes area (the upper part of the table), using random colors for border (BORDER), first plane (INK) and background (PAPER).

          Enjoyable, in my humble opinion.

    2. ForthIsNotDead

      Re: Not saved as an autorun program?

      SAVE "MY_PROG" LINE 10

      Still remember...!

  2. LDS Silver badge
    Joke

    Only a British would use a ZX spectrum for music...

    ... .instead of the much superior audio output of a C64....

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Only a British would use a ZX spectrum for music...

      If the track was written for the C64 it would have been four times the length.

      1. maffski

        Re: Only a British would use a ZX spectrum for music...

        If the track was written for the C64 it would have been four times the length.

        Ah, so Radioheads later work

    2. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Only a British would use a ZX spectrum for music...

      "..Only a British would use a ZX spectrum for music..."

      "Only a British"? WTF kind of language is that??

      Try "Only a British group" or "Only a Briton" or even "Only a Brit".

      Gotta love Simplified English (aka 'Murkan English)

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: Only a British would use a ZX spectrum for music...

            I'm not one of your downvoters but, maybe it was because you didnt specify wether or not you were guessing that LDS wasnt a native english speaker?

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

              1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                Re: Only a British would use a ZX spectrum for music...

                @vic

                Now i've got my own 2 downvotes for speculating why you got your 2 downvotes.

                1. MyffyW Silver badge

                  Re: Only a Britisher would use a ZX spectrum for music...

                  Dear Messers Vic and Jeltz,

                  I have come to the conclusion there is a random downvote generator on El Reg.

                  Maybe it is controlled by a beaded man called Clive and his 8-bit bot army.

                  Roll with it, and have a corresponding up tick from yours truly.

                  MyffyW (16-bit on a good day)

                  1. eesiginfo

                    Re: Only a Britisher would use a ZX spectrum for music...

                    The 8-bit bot army exists.

                    It is activated when 'downvote' is mentioned in a post, when the preceding post received downvotes.

      2. Gezza

        Re: Only a British would use a ZX spectrum for music...

        @ TonyJ - isn't a Murkan a wig for a burger bap or other cheesy comestibles?

      3. timrichardson

        Re: Only a British would use a ZX spectrum for music...

        I'm an Australia and I used the ZX81 and Spectrum. My keyboard suffered from the conductive membrane being above the heat sink, I had to do repairs. So sad that the Spectrum got lost. My favourite program was a talking clock: my voice was sampled by the Spectrum to build the vocab, it was recognisable. The C64 was much more sophisticated but the Spectrum was arguable more educational because producing sound and doing something else required understanding multitasking, either using interrupts or co-operatively. The C64 had a real sound chip.

    3. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Only a British would use a ZX spectrum for music...

      To be fair, it actually sounds better than some of their actual tracks mainly because it doesn't have the usual annoying whiny vocals.

      Not a radiohead fan, can you tell?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Cab

          Re: Only a British would use a ZX spectrum for music...

          The somewhat obligatory :

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

          Cheer up Thom Yorke - Lancashire Hotpots.

    4. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Only a British would use a ZX spectrum for music...

      A Commodore 64? Show me one of them in the early 80s for £125. I would have taken a BBC Micro for the price anyway, if I could afford it.

    5. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Only a British would use a ZX spectrum for music...

      Some New Wave band[0] had a 12" out with a BBC B program on the flipside that, when run, provided a simple wireframe animation to go with the music on the A side.

      [0] Fiction Factory, IIRC, but The Web has no knowledge of them releasing such an item.

    6. Justice
      Trollface

      Re: Only a British would use a ZX spectrum for music...

      Except when they're Australian. (I still have this little gem in my record box)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thompson_Twins_Adventure

      1. Sam Therapy

        Re: Only a British would use a ZX spectrum for music...

        The Thompson Twins singer was from Sheffield. So, at least part Brit.

  3. AMBxx Silver badge

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

    C90 was a pain - took too long to find the start of the program and wasn't reliable enough.

    Soon switched to C15 - normally enough for one program on each side.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way? No!

      Yes, C90 was only dominant for LPs, as usually though not always, you could put a whole Album on each side. A C60 only allowed one LP with awkward winding and C120 was always more prone to jamming or chewing, the C120 also was only good for higher quality machines and compilations.

      I think the C60 and smaller were for dictation, as the format was originally for dictation or audio notes in 1962 approx. The size and cost made it more successful than earlier RCA cassette (which is why it was a "Compact Cassette) or later Sony Elcaset (about 12 years too late). The 8 track was only starting to appear in UK in 1970s when Compact Cassette wiped it out. More common in USA with home players too, I have seen home 8-track players twice in UK. The 8 track would have been useless for home computers.

      I remember the pressed records for home computers on magazine covers, like the inside of a 5.25" floppy with a groove. It was easier to make a tape from them than use them directly.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way? No!

        The 8 track would have been useless for home computers.

        Too right. I worked in radio when "carts" were the predominant playback media for things like jingles, stings, intros and adverts. Carts were physically the same format as 8-track, but had a three tracks; one pair for stereo and a control track to cause the player to cue (i.e. fast-forward back to the beginning*), stop, or trigger another player.

        The trouble we had keeping those things running to speed and without too much wow or flutter made my tribulations with Compact Cassettes for my Spectrum and later my BBC Micro look trivial, and we used Sonifex units which were probably the best in the business (anyone want a Sonifex cart machine? I have a couple in the garage).

        The Spectrum's notoriously fickle circuitry would never have coped. The BBC Micro would likely have done better, especially if you just left the cart to run in a loop. The Spectrum (and most other home computers of the era) needed to load the whole program in one go, and an error near the end of 20k of code would mean starting from scratch. The BBC Micro loaded programs in (IIRC) 256 byte blocks. An error in one block would simply pause the loading so that you could re-wind and try just that block again. This saved an awful lot of time. You could have just left a cart running unattended, and the Micro would have picked up a bad block the next time it came around. Actually, didn't Sir Clive appropriate that idea with the "Microdrive"? :-)

        M.

        *For those who don't know, an 8-track cartridge was a tape loop. There was no "rewind", you had to fast-forward back to the beginning. The 7½ips cartridges we used at the radio station came in lengths up to about 10 minutes, IIRC, but since fast-forward was done by the same capstan and pinch roller that was used when playing the tape, and since the tape loop relied on decent lubrication for smooth running, you couldn't fast-forward all that fast in reality. In other words, you used the shortest cart suitable for the job, and for things like 5-second or 10-second jingles you might actually use a 30-second cart and record two or three copies.

        Where's my 'nostalgia' icon?

        1. a well wisher

          Re: C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way? No!

          "The 8 track would have been useless for home computers."

          Although that is exactly what Sinclair went on to do with their Sinclair QL computer - using same, but smaller tape looped cartridge as its data storage - Plagued with problem !

          ICL even sold that computer as the 'One Per Desk' colloquially known as the 'One Per Bin' after a short while

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way? No!

            Apparently the Microdrive format got much better once they'd ironed the bugs out of it, but by that time the reputation had stuck. (From what I've heard, it was a similar story with the QL as a whole, due to it having launched prematurely).

            Weren't there problems with mass-production of the Microdrives anyway?

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way? No!

              Anyone interested in obscure audio media and playback devices could do far worse than check out Techmoan.

              http://www.techmoan.com/blog/category/hifi

              He has many YouTube videos where he discusses the history things like Elcassette, RCA Victor tape cartridges and many others. He usually buys the playback kit off eBay and then dismantles on video to make it work again.

            2. Tom Paine Silver badge

              Re: C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way? No!

              (From what I've heard, it was a similar story with the QL as a whole, due to it having launched prematurely).

              "We've got to stop taking orders, Clive! Half the memory's still hanging out the back!"

              ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIcAyFVK0gE , of course)

              * waves at @Ace and the rest of the #general crew...

              1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

                Re: C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way? No!

                Damn you! Now I'll have to watch Micro Men again! Brilliant film for nerds like myself!

          2. David Paul Morgan

            Re: C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way? No!

            good old OPD/QL

            We had one briefly in our office, as our junior operator 'inherited' one from an uncle in BT [cough]

            we had a lot of fun with it - the precursor of things we take for granted today, but do via our pocketslabs

            1. yossarianuk

              Re: C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way? No!

              A famous Finnish programmer also had a Sinclair QL ///

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05pgVwzAZ6k

      2. LDS Silver badge

        Re: C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way? No!

        I usually used C-46 or C-60 cassettes for albums, depending on the albums length, many fit on the former (the original LP capacity was 23m per side). C-90 only for dual LP albums, cassettes I could play on a smaller hi-fi system in my room which had not an LP player.

        Saw very little reason to have two different albums on the same cassette but for car or walkman use, where it saved space. Otherwise, smaller cassettes meant less wear.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way? No!

        'C90 was only dominant for LPs'

        It was also the dominant format for people who copied games from their mates, and enjoyed / endured the 'will it wont it' tightrope of loading games. The hours I spent waiting for Daley Thompson's Supertest 128 to load, just to get to the very end then crash.....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

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

      Ah young padawan a tape deck with a counter is what you should have had. They were great for such problems.

      1. ridley

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

        Or use your ears.

        Perhaps displaying a misspent youth I could identify the program from its opening warble, no sissy counters for me.

      2. /dev/null

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

        Until you changed to different tape deck and found the tape counter counted at a different speed on the new one....

    3. stevebp

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

      WHS did a C15 cassette for Speccies and the like and also did a great tape deck that was probably the most reliable around as it was tuned for loading games rather than playing music.

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Trollface

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

    Who was a naughty boy, then?

    1. Triggerfish

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

      Surely SA90

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

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

        SA stands for Still Available.

        I dread to think how much £29.59 would be in 80's pocket money.

        1. Michael Strorm

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

          Who on earth was using expensive chrome TDKs for computer programs?!

          C60, C90 etc. was the commonly-accepted generic term for cassette length, though it was more commonly abandoned by manufacturers in favour of their own designation (e.g. SA90) from the 1980s on.

          1. Triggerfish

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

            TBH I used them more for albums, helping home taping kill the msic industry, but only the good albums, the rest went on C90s.

          2. Simon Harris Silver badge

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

            I used to find that AD90s actually worked better for programs than SA90s on my Atom (which had a similar tape filing system to the BBC). But the tape player I used with the computer back then wasn't optimised for chrome.

        2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

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

          If I remember correctly, inflation between 1980>now is about 3.5.

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

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

            If I remember correctly, inflation between 1980>now is about 3.5.

            Bank of England Inflation Calculator (also available as an XLS)

            £1 in 1980 would be worth about £3.94 in 2016

            HTH

            M.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              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

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

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

            what do you mean if you remember?

            How are you working that out?

            The first Inflation Calculator website i tried says 4.66%

            It also tells me I havent had a pay rise in real terms since leaving college in 1995 :(

          3. Dan 55 Silver badge

            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.

        3. 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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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.

      3. Nick Pettefar

        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.

        1. jake Silver badge

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

          Your car cassette player could record?

  5. jake Silver badge

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

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

  6. wolfetone Silver badge
    Trollface

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

    1. TRT Silver badge

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

  7. lglethal Silver badge
    Happy

    How very Radiohead...

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

  8. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    ...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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        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.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          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.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          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?

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            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.

  9. Alan Bourke

    The ZX Spectrum does not have 'apps'.

    It has 'programmes'.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      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.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        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.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      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.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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!)

    4. Dave 126 Silver badge

      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.

      1. Tom Paine Silver badge
        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 :> )

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          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...

    5. SnotMonster9

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

      That's programs

  10. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
    Happy

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

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

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

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        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.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      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.

  11. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    Flashing screen, crap everywhere ---

    --bollocks, reload, again!

  12. andy gibson

    Radiohead "Nude" on Spectrum

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

    https://vimeo.com/1109226

  13. Tom Paine Silver badge
    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...

    1. Jediben

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

      "You Have Penetrated!"...

      Leisure Suit Larry?

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      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.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Penetrator

        "Penetrator, with hindsight, a rather disturbing name"

        Wasn't the world innocent back then!

        (I thought nostalgically.)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    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..

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: lot of negative comments

      Bad troll. No cookie.

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

  15. davenewman
    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

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

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

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

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

  18. MrT
    Pint

    That tune brings back memories...

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

  19. Wayland Bronze badge

    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.

  20. JimRoyal

    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.

  21. mr dsb

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

  22. Anonymous Coward
    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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