back to article ZX Spectrum reboot latest: Some Vega+s arrive, Sky pulls plug, Clive drops ball

Sir Clive Sinclair's company has accused flailing ZX Spectrum reboot firm Retro Computers Ltd of trading while insolvent. Meanwhile, the firm has delivered some consoles – and been stripped of the brand rights to its flagship product. Last week some customers of Retro Computers Ltd reported on social media that they had …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

    Shame on all involved.

    1. SeanR

      Re: As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

      define "everyone". There's a bunch of names in that story, and I don't believe it applies to all of them.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

      Caveat emptor? The successful legal challenge against Indiegogos "orders" not withstanding presumably all the "customers" knew what they were getting into by using a crowdfunding site?

      I feel sorry for them - but tempered by the fact no-one can claim they didn't know what they were getting into.

    3. asdf Silver badge

      Re: As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

      Crowd funding proves not only can get you millennials to work for cheap with no benefits by calling something sharing but you can get them to pony up the venture capital as well without having to deal with pesky things like having to give out company shares for the cash.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

        Crowd funding is often successful in getting stuff made that there isn't necessarily a big enough market to sustain a product, but enough people that would want one that would not be able to get one otherwise.

        It has its place.

        1. asdf Silver badge

          Re: As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

          >It has its place.

          Perhaps but the wonderful thing about this capitalist wonderland is there are plenty of tangible easy to buy things I can find to spend my money on to entertain myself today instead of pie in the sky stuff in the future on a wing and a prayer. More power to others to spend their money how they wish but Gen Xers like me are big on money in the bank (we tend to save like our grandparents not our less responsible parents generation) or in viable sensible investments with a track record of delivering. Idealism isn't always high on the list. But sure go on change the world. YOLO.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

            Change the world? Who is claiming that?

            I've backed several things via Kickstarter and IndieGogo and in every case I've received something excellent, interesting and useful that I would not have otherwise had. By using simple diligence (it's not hard), I haven't been involved with a single failure or financial loss and in all cases I've enjoyed watching the process of getting the item to the backer over the months. Because most projects that get fully funded, actually get delivered. You only read about the failures and it creates the false impression.

            It's not a big deal and it's not a scary big nasty bogey picker that frightens genxers who were happy to blow cash on smoking, rainy holidays, and drinking shit beer for years on end whilst stinking of Brut 33 and Old Spice. That old generation that ran up debt paying through the nose for shit from the catalogue and countless K-Tel and Ronco eternal drawer-dwelling tat.

      2. Stuart Castle

        Re: As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

        Crowd funding is not all bad. I've seen some genuinely good products on various crowdfunding sites (e.g. the Pebble watches, which were bloody good). The trouble is, it's a lot easier to come up with an idea, and build a prototype than it is to manufacture something. This is the trouble Tesla are having with the Model 3, and they are experienced at manufacturing. A company may have a load of good designers and engineers, but how much manufacturing experience do they have? Even if they outsource the manufacturing (which I believe RCL have), they still need engineers who can predict the problems the factory is likely to have and come up with solutions.

        Then there are the shysters who set up a crowd funding campaign looking to vanish with the money. After all, it's relatively cheap to set up a convincing looking site, and come up with an impressive video to sell your project, and you could get away with millions..

    4. boltar Silver badge

      Re: As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

      The phrase "A fool and his money are soon parted" proved correct once again. Hopefully some of the suckers who invested in this have learnt a valuable lesson - ie that the laws of good financial governance arn't put on hold just because the money is being raised on some trendy hipster crowd funding site.

  2. Baldrickk Silver badge

    It looks a bit... "cheap"

    As title, insert appropriate four letter word as applicable

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: It looks a bit... "cheap"

      Watching the reviews on YT only make it worse...

      Damage from build and construction, really bad control quality - stiff and with no tactile feedback, constant crashes on menu screens, paper logo under the screen cover, the list goes on...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: It looks a bit... "cheap"

        This is the most thorough review I've found so far.

        So, rather glad I decided not to go for it.

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: It looks a bit... "cheap"

      If I remember correctly, the original ZX80 not only refreshed its dynamic memory in software, but had stripes painted on the back that gave the impression of having cooling vents where none were in fact present. Compared with its family heritage, it looks positively upmarket.

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: It looks a bit... "cheap"

        The ZX80 fetches its display in software, but contains only static RAM.

        Rather than bother with all that nonsense of counters and whatever for fetching video, the processor just executes the display buffer. Well, it tries to, but the parasitic video steals the opcodes it is actually fetching and forces a NOP onwards. That gives the character code, and hijacking of the Z80's refresh cycle gives it a chance to get the actual pixels for that row of that character.

        So most of what the Z80 in a ZX80 is doing is executing NOPs.

        1. boltar Silver badge

          Re: It looks a bit... "cheap"

          "So most of what the Z80 in a ZX80 is doing is executing NOPs."

          Even for its day the ZX80 was a pretty nasty design when compared to the Apple II, TRS-80, PET or other 8 bit computers that had come out a few years before. If it had been dirt cheap that would have been fine but it wasn't, it was actually quite expensive at 100 quid assembled which is probably equivalent to 300-400 quid or more now.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: It looks a bit... "cheap"

            And what was the price of the Apple II, TRS-80, and PET?

  3. Conrad Longmore
    Coat

    German tank problem

    Did they use the German tank problem approach for the serial numbers?

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: German tank problem

      I hope so. That's a wonderful bit of maths.

  4. Herring`

    What we need

    is someone to do a BBC Micro reboot. Then we can revive those old Z80 vs 6502 arguments that took up so many lunch breaks at school. Silly really - the 6502 was always faster.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: What we need

      Faster at the same clock rate, but slower at the C64's ~1Mhz than at the Spectrum's ~3.58Mhz, which is most of what mattered.

    2. msknight Silver badge

      Re: What we need

      Why? The originals are still going strong. I've got three of them, plus a cheese wedge co-pro, so I can play Elite Executive Edition :-)

      There was also an Arm 1 cheese wedge that went on fleabay a year or two ago, for a little over four grand.

      Mine can also read a FAT 32 USB stick and has compact flash cards that mimick winchester drives, courtesy of Retro Computers. Nip over to StarDot - https://stardot.org.uk/forums/ - for BBC goodness :-)

    3. ForthIsNotDead

      Re: What we need

      Faster at what? The Z80 had some more sophisticated instructions, such as LDIR which the 6502 doesn't have. So, if the 6502 was faster, the Z80 was certainly more memory efficient - you could do more per instruction on a Z80 than a 6502. And only putting three registers on the 6502 was just dumbfuckery of the highest order. Shame on Peddle!

      1. Herring`

        Re: What we need

        Wow. That went better than I expected.

        Next up Shimano is better than Campag, vi is better than Emacs ....

        1. Roger Greenwood

          Re: What we need

          @Herring'

          Interested in your thoughts regarding Betamax v VHS . . . .

          1. Alan J. Wylie

            Re: What we need

            Interested in your thoughts regarding Betamax v VHS

            Video 2000

            I contracted for a while at Pye TVT in Cambridge (working on a TV video effects console for the 1986 World Cup). Pye was a subsidiary of Philips, and there was a factory shop. Lots of employees, contractors and their friends and families ended up with Video 2000 recorders. Rumour had it that e.g. Dixons allocated the cassettes equally to all shops, and the manager of the Cambridge branch spent a lot of time on the phone talking to other branches to get their spare stock sent to him.

            Getting back on topic, I also worked on the Acorn Archimedes and the Sinclair QL.

            1. ridley

              Re: What we need

              V2000 machines were the nuts.

              Go to Next program/specified time

              Perfect freeze frame

              4 hours of each side of the tape.

              Shame they were the size of a house and looked like they were hand made inside there were so many "bodge" wires between the huge numbers of daughter boards. With that many bodges they never were going to be reliable.

              Bought more than a couple off Comet(?) When they were outing them for a few quid each.

            2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: What we need

              I also worked on the Acorn Archimedes

              Fabulous machine, spoilt only by the lack of commercial games^W software. I sold my Atari ST to get one..

          2. Arthur the cat Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: What we need

            Interested in your thoughts regarding Betamax v VHS . . . .

            U-matic.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: What we need

              U-what?

            2. VictimMildew

              Re: What we need

              >> Interested in your thoughts regarding Betamax v VHS . . . .

              > U-matic.

              Hardly a domestic format.

          3. VictimMildew

            Re: What we need

            > Interested in your thoughts regarding Betamax v VHS

            Video 2000 was a superior format to both and the player came with a free hernia.

        2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: What we need

          > vi is better than Emac

          Different category: that's not even open for debate.

        3. katrinab Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: What we need

          Obviously emacs is better than vi.

          1. Michael Strorm

            Re: What we need

            > "Obviously emacs is better than vi."

            Well, it's certainly more fully-featured. About the only thing it lacks is a decent text editor...

            1. asdf Silver badge
              Mushroom

              Re: What we need

              >> "Obviously emacs is better than vi."

              >Well, it's certainly more fully-featured. About the only thing it lacks is a decent text editor...

              And who doesn't want a bunch of GNU libraries on their proper UNIX machine instead of you know just running a binary that has come with virtually every single *nix system since Reagan was inaugurated. Bring on the GNU bloat. ln -s /usr/local/bin/bash /bin/sh baby

              1. AlexGreyhead

                Re: What we need

                As a comparatively young whipper-snapper, watching these experienced folks arguing over classic architectures is to my mind a little like watching the Gods of yore having a tussle in the heavens...

              2. Stuart Moore

                Re: What we need

                It's debates like the above that make me wish I wasn't (slightly) too young to have had them in real time. More of this kind of thing!

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: What we need

                  It's debates like the above that make me wish I wasn't (slightly) too young to have had them in real time. More of this kind of thing!

                  Your generation has varieties of beard oil and North Face vs Superdry. Surely lots of scope for passionate debate there?

                  1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                    Re: What we need

                    Your generation has varieties of beard oil and North Face vs Superdry

                    And there was me thinking that beard oil was what you got when you forgot to wash it for a week or two..

                    (And no - I have no idea what the latter part of your quoted comment is..)

                    1. Mike Richards

                      Re: What we need

                      I expect North Face and Superdry are two of those so-called popular music artistes that you might find on certain bands of the FM spectrum if you ever tune away from the Home Service.

                2. phuzz Silver badge
                  Thumb Up

                  Re: What we need

                  It's debates like the above that make me wish I wasn't (slightly) too young to have had them in real time.

                  You sound about the same age as me, and we have the old Amiga vs Atari debate, and there's still poor misguided fools who continue to support the ST.

          2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: What we need

            Obviously emacs is better than vi.

            At getting the end-user lost in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. And then getting eaten by a grue.

            Whereas vi is a supreme editor, used by support professionals. And me.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: What we need

              "Obviously emacs is better than vi."

              I used to be a big emacs/xemacs user.

              However, in the early mists of time, I once had to open a massive file (for the time) and do a global search and replace. I couldn't load this on my Sun server or my SGI Octane. My SysAdmin opened vi and managed it in just a few lines. After that - took the time to learn the vi commands. Had its uses.

        4. John Gamble

          Re: What we need

          "Wow. That went better than I expected.

          Next up Shimano is better than Campag, vi is better than Emacs ...."

          Don't be absurd. Shimano is far better than EMACS.

      2. Steve the Cynic

        Re: What we need

        And only putting three registers on the 6502 was just dumbfuckery of the highest order.

        It's my understanding that the 6502's original target market was controlling microwave ovens, for which its capabilities (notably the 256-byte machine stack) are just fine.

        But yeah, the Z-80 was a far more sophisticated processor than the 6502. If you compare it to a 6809, well, them's fightin' words...

        1. /dev/null

          Re: What we need

          It's a long time ago now, but, IIRC, one big difference between the 6502 and Z80 was that the 6502 was pipelined, but the Z80 wasn't, so even a NOP took four clock cycles on the Z80.

          1. ThomH Silver badge

            Re: What we need @/dev/null

            A NOP takes four cycles because there's no memory bandwidth to fetch anything else until four cycles later; the Z80 spent two cycles fetching the NOP opcode, then decoded and performed it during the two cycles when it was issuing a DRAM refresh. As soon as the refresh ends it can seek out the next thing. That's why it's also four cycles for all the other single-byte instructions that don't imply any other accesses to memory — register-to-register arithmetic and moves, and a few others.

      3. Woodnag

        Re: What we need

        Remember how popular the original Microchip PICs were, despite subroutines only being allowed in lower pages and memory segmentation pointer.

      4. Michael Strorm

        Re: What we need

        As far as I'm aware, for a 6502 of given clock speed, you could expect broadly equivalent performance from a Z80 clocked at double that speed or slightly more.

        In other words, the Atari 800's 1.79 MHz 6502 would have been roughtly equivalent to the Spectrum's 3.5 GHz Z80 (#), the BBC Micro's 2 MHz 6502 a little faster... and the C64's 1 MHz 6502 was still on the slow side.

        (#) Though the Atari's custom graphics hardware (including hardware scrolling, hardware sprites and multicolour character-based modes) meant that it didn't have to inefficiently use CPU cycles on certain things that the simpler Spectrum would have needed to.

        1. Michael Strorm

          Re: What we need

          I should also add that the 6809 was apparently superior to both... but unfortunately let down by being paired with uninspiring supporting hardware in its most famous applications. (The Tandy CoCo and its near-clone, the Dragon 32 both featured the same dated graphics chip as the Acorn Atom and the sound was similarly limited.)

          1. Michael Strorm

            Re: What we need

            I should also add that- although I'm far less familiar with the C64 than the Atari 800- as far as I'm aware, the former also benefits from custom hardware scrolling, hardware sprites and character-based graphics that allow it to outperform (e.g.) the Spectrum on most games despite its slower CPU.

            Unless it's a CPU intensive game that doesn't benefit from such features (e.g. 3D games) in which case it'll suffer.

            1. cream wobbly

              Re: What we need

              The C64 also benefited from the SID audio synth-on-a-chip. Unlike "chip music" from other 8-bit micros which typically waggled a DAC around to make PWM noise, the C64 was actually playing music on a viable musical instrument via simple digital registers. The most notable technical thing about it is that once you started playing a note, you didn't have to tie up the CPU to keep on playing it; ... like you did on the Speccy. Another reason why Spectrum games tended not to have in-game music but C64 games did.

              Another aside: the SID was used in a couple of real synths; although their makers were always desperate for supply.

              The "my CPU is better than your CPU" debate is really irrelevant when your CPU is doing everything and mine is just asking other parts of the architecture to do stuff. The same applies to Firewire vs USB.

              1. ThomH Silver badge

                Re: What we need @cream wobbly

                I'm not sure it's accurate to say that other micros typically had to live-toggle a bit. Of the successful ones I'm pretty sure that's only the Apple II and the 16/48kb Spectrum.

                None of them is a match for the feature set of the SID, but the 128kb Spectrum and CPC share the AY which is three channels of square wave and/or noise with volume envelopes; the 8-bit Atari has the POKEY which is four channels of more-or-less square wave; the BBC has an SN76489 which is three square waves plus a noise channel, etc.

                The SID's killer feature is phase accumulation for pitch selection rather than simple division, giving much finer control — in a SID there's a 24-bit counter, the top few bits of which are used to form the output level, and an amount that is added to it at each cycle. Plus some analogue filters. On the other chips there is the input clock and then there is an integral divider. So you're controlling the reciprocal of pitch, reducing useful precision.

                Nevertheless, the other chips don't require active CPU participation as the 48kb Spectrum does, and the musical opportunities are still fairly decent.

              2. Michael Strorm

                Re: What we need

                > cream wobbly; "The C64 also benefited from the SID audio synth-on-a-chip. Unlike "chip music" from other 8-bit micros which typically waggled a DAC around to make PWM noise"

                (Edit:- @ThomH; If I'd refreshed the page before posting this, I'd have seen that you'd already made much the same point in your reply!)

                That's true as far as the original (pre-128K) Spectrum goes- along with some other machines (IIRC the Apple II and Dragon 32). However, it's far from accurate to imply that DAC waggling was "typical" of the majority of 8-bit computers.

                Many had separate sound chips:-

                - The Atari 800 (which came out in 1979) had a four-channel custom chip called POKEY.

                - Several 8-bit computers used the Yamaha AY-3-8912 sound chip, including the Amstrad CPC, the Spectrum 128 (though admittedly that came later on), the Oric-1 and Atmos, and MSX.

                - Several more used the Texas Instruments SN76489, including their own TI-99/4A, the BBC Micro and the Coleco Adam (and the ColecoVision console it was based on)

                Others had sound generation integrated into multi-function custom chips:-

                - Commodore's own VIC 20 (i.e. the direct predecessor to the C64) already included tone generation facilities as part of the VIC chip

                - Similarly, the Commodore 16 and Plus/4 included tone generation within the TED chip

                - Even the relatively primitive Atari VCS (admittedly not a personal computer) had two-channel audio generation as part of the TIA chip.

                The point here isn't whether or not these were up to the standard of SID. It's that they were separate sound generation facilities that- like the C64's- freed the CPU to do other things.

        2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: What we need

          The 6502 and Z80 clock issue is really a precursor to the great RISC vs. CISC debate.

          Generally, the 6502 would execute each instruction in about 2 clock cycles, although there were a few that only needed one. The Z80 required between 4 and 13 clock cycles per instruction depending on what the instruction was (this is from memory), so although it generally had a faster clock speed, and more sophisticated instructions, for many of the simpler operations that these processors typically ran, the 2MHz 6502 in the BBC performed tasks faster than the 3.75 MHz in a Spectrum.

          The memory access was also more simple for 6502, which enabled it to work with slower memory than the Z80, mainly because memory and CPU clock speeds were linked together.

          For complex workloads, the Z80 could run rings around a 6502, but in order to do that, you would need to have work that needed 16 bit registers, and used the complex instructions to their maximum benefit.

          The Z80 was more memory efficient (so long as you used all of the instructions) although clever use of the indexed addressing modes of the 6502 could save memory, and allowed you to use zero page memory almost as registers on a 6502, negating some of the benefit of the Z80's more generous register set. The Z80 also had the basic support for bank-switched memory and port driven I/O, neither of which the 6502 had.

          It's also worth remembering that processors of this age executed instructions strictly in the sequence they were written, with no overlapping or super-scalar execution, and all memory read and writes went strictly to the RAM, no caching or pre-fetich of instructions or data.

          So the Z80 was a more sophisticated processor, but not necessarily a faster one than the 6502.

          1. ThomH Silver badge

            Re: What we need @PeterGathercole

            I think you're off by one; the shortest 6502 instructions take two cycles, and the most common ones — those which read from or write to the zero page — take three.

            But the issue in a real machine is that a 6502 uses only half a clock cycle to perform an entire memory access whereas the Z80 uses at least two. So pick your clock speed as a function of those constraints and your memory speed.

          2. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: What we need

            the 2MHz 6502 in the BBC performed tasks faster than the 3.75 MHz in a Spectrum.

            The memory access was also more simple for 6502, which enabled it to work with slower memory than the Z80, mainly because memory and CPU clock speeds were linked together.

            The BBC had 4Mhz memory multiplexed between the 2Mhz CPU and the video display, so the CPU always never had to wait to access the memory.

            The Electron on the other hand had the same 2Mhz CPU but used a contended memory model (similar to the Spectrum). When the video output needed to access the memory, the CPU was paused. On the Electron this meant the machine was pretty slow, far slower than BBC and slower the Spectrum. Unlike the Spectrum, it had no uncontended RAM area.

          3. Mage Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Z80 was a more sophisticated processor

            Essentially an 8080 designed by people that left Intel.

            the 8085 was Intel's answer to Z80. The bankswitch on Z80 allowed fast context switch to a scheduler for Round Robin multitasking. Ultimately it was CP/M that made 8080/Z80/8085 popular along with Wordstar and Supercalc (vs Visicalc on the Apple II). The CP/M computers tended to be more business orientated with 80 column displays, monitors rather TVs and at least one 5.25" or 8" floppy. The original PCs. No surprise CP/M was ported to 8086 and the bought in MS clone (MS DOS / PC DOS) was the main OS for IBM PC. The 8086 / 8088 wasn't a "real" 16bit CPU like later 80286 (which ran Xenix and UNIX), being basically an 8080 with segment register for addresses outside the 64K byte block and a few 16 bit instructions.

            Whatever about 6502 vs Z80 (or 8080/8085), the 8088/8086 was crippled junk compared to almost all other 16 bit CPUs. No comparison to 68000 or indeed some 16bit parts IBM used. The IBM PC wasn't really meant to be the success and industry standard. Sadly it was and it held back mainstream PCs till maybe NT4.0, Windows 2000 or XP, because Win9x / ME was a garbage OS, basically Win3.x shell with Win32s and Explorer lipstick on the pig. Win9x had the evil 8086/80386 pseudo 16bit/32bit hybrid architecture under the hood which is why it ran so badly on the Pentium Pro compared to "real" 32 bit NT 3.1, NT 3.5, NT3.51 and NT4.0

            I used the Z80 in many projects and also some CP/M desktops (last was the PCW8256/PCW8512). However the 8088/8086 based PC and MSDOS made me wish the 8080/Z80/8085 had never existed.

            The PIC was originally a peripheral for I/O on a more powerful CPU. The onboard EPROM and later Flash memory coupled with cheapness and Zero extra chips meant it was a success for simple projects. The Flash version of original PIC1684 still sold last time I looked. Using Basic, C or JAL on a PIC18Fxxx that only needs a capacitor and socket to be a USB slave and can be reprogrammed easily in circuit means the simple PIC still lives despite some ARM Cortex as cheap as 50c.

            Who would use an x86-64 Intel/AMD part today for anything portable if you didn't need legacy Windows applications?

            The ARM was born from Acorn's use of 6502 and their horror of x86. So in a sense the 6502 won. There are more ARM CPUS made in a week than x86 parts in a year. The Raspberry Pi is supposed to be the modern take on BBC Micro (6502). It's little more than an ARM CPU for a phone /tablet on a breakout board. A brilliant alternative for projects unsuitable for either a PIC or a full $200 tablet. Choice of various OS (RiscOS, various Linux distros and if you are bonkers, an embedded Windows that can't run any regular Windows applications, the Linux has ARM versions of Gimp, Libre Office, Firefox etc, most of what is common on an x86 laptop with Linux)

            1. Michael Strorm

              Re: Z80 was a more sophisticated processor

              > The Raspberry Pi is supposed to be the modern take on BBC Micro (6502).

              In the sense that it's educationally-oriented, possibly. On the other hand, the Raspberry Pi is very cheap, which- for all that I liked them- was *never* something you could say about the BBC Micro.

              The 1981 launch prices of £235 and £335 for the Model A and B respectively are equivalent to £940 and £1340 in today's money. And that was *without* disk drives or the obligatory Microvitec Cub monitor...!

            2. Tom 7 Silver badge

              Re: Z80 was a more sophisticated processor

              @mage. I am a fan of ARM (I fucking wish I was still a shareholder though) However for nearly 40 years I have always thought that if IBM had chosen the 6809 computing would have been 10 years further on than it was. But would the future, ARM*, have still been around?

              *I say the future is ARM - if there ML stuff comes out at a Raspberry Pi level they WILL be the future.

      5. smot

        Re: What we need

        And don't forget that massive 6502 stack - a whopping 256 bytes.....

      6. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

        Re: What we need

        LEAVE PEDDLE ALONE!!

      7. Sam Liddicott

        Re: What we need

        > And only putting three registers on the 6502 was just dumbfuckery of the highest order.

        > Shame on Peddle!

        Once we decide something is not worth knowing about, we lose the opportunity to find out we are wrong.

        I used to have that view, but years later found out that 6502 page zero access was treated specially and very fast, effectively giving another 256 registers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What we need

          As we used to say: the Z80 was fat and weighty, and the 6502 was faster than spew.

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: What we need

          I used to have that view, but years later found out that 6502 page zero access was treated specially and very fast, effectively giving another 256 registers.

          But then again you have to do stuff like reset the carry flag before operations meaning the code size was bigger, and there were fewer conditional jump commands available after you'd done your operation.

          That kind of stuff would get old quickly (as you can guess I learnt Z80 assembly).

    4. DrBed

      Re: What we need

      is someone to do a BBC Micro reboot.

      It should be done at Raspberry Pi 3 IMHO. Open, DIY project. No silly IGG scams anymore.

      @Z80 vs 6502:

      Z80@Amstrad != Z80@Speccy; Only few specific games could run faster / equivalent at Speccy, compared to C64 etc (6502/6510); e.g. those based on Freescape / 3D Construction Kit iirc.

      Compare it to the Novagen's Encounter @ C64 or Atari 8-bit.

      Uridium? Speccy does not have VIC-II (hardware scrolling, sprites etc). Impossible. Spectrum version has 20FPS compared to the 50Hz update of the original.

      However, isometric games @Speccy becomes that nice touch / genre, those 2,5 D graphics looks nicer and plays smoother (then at C64), although technically inferior.

      BUT: Z80 version at Amstrad (Schneider) is totally different story. It is just faster/stronger machine.

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: What we need @DrBed

        The Z80 in the Spectrum is not only nominally clocked at 3.58Mhz but also genuinely runs at that speed for as long as you avoid the physical chips that are shared with the ULA. E.g. on a 48kb Spectrum that means that as long as your code is in the top 32kb of RAM rather than the bottom 16kb.

        The CPC is nominally clocked at 4Mhz but via use of the WAIT line permits a Z80 memory access on only one in every four cycles, regardless of what you're accessing. The standard fetch cycle is four cycles long, so single-byte instructions that don't cause a memory access run without a speed penalty (once you're in phase, anyway) but everything else is subject to delays. As a result code often ends up running more slowly than it would on a ZX Spectrum.

        It depends how often the Spectrum code is seeking to update the display though, obviously. And the CPC's main problem isn't this clocking scheme or that one, it's the annoying large percentage of titles that are so lazy as just to be the Spectrum code plus some extra work at the end to translate the Spectrum graphics to anything that looks sort of right. It's almost a revelation every time you load a game that was converted properly, like Chase HQ, Robocop or Gryzor.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: What we need

        BUT: Z80 version at Amstrad (Schneider) is totally different story. It is just faster/stronger machine.

        Nobbled by memory contention and the Z80 not having enough grunt to deal with the amount of video memory in the higher res/colour screen modes.

    5. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: What we need

      If you're desperate to recreate the Beeb experience, there's a stripped-down version of RISC OS (i.e. just BBC Basic) available for the RasPi:

      https://www.riscosopen.org/content/sales/risc-os-pico

      Direct link to the file: http://packages.riscosopen.org/RISC-OS_Pico.zip

    6. This post has been deleted by its author

    7. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: What we need

      BBC micro reboot? I've seen a copy of BBC basic for the Pi somewhere. The 6502 is easily emulated on it. So unless you're anal enough to want to put it in a box like the one you cant remember anyway your pretty much there.

  5. John70

    Over on eBay

    Those that have got the Vega+ and flogging them on eBay and so far fetching on average £250

    eBay ZX Spectrum Vega+

    1. sal II

      Re: Over on eBay

      That's silly IMHO, they have so much bad press and i understand they are quite rubbish, but in 5-10 years time might fetch much more as collector items, being so rare and infamous.

      1. stephanh

        Re: Over on eBay

        Now all we need is a port of "E.T." to the Vega.

        1. BRYN

          Re: Over on eBay

          ET on ZX spectrum/Vega+?

          Already been done (kinda)

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imbKN1oaQpQ

  6. ForthIsNotDead
    Stop

    Give it 10 years

    A boxed Vega+ will be worth a fucking fortune. Like the Jupiter Ace. Ironic really.

    1. Velv Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Give it 10 years

      Judging by the commentary in the article and elsewhere, "boxed" is a loose term

    2. Duffaboy
      FAIL

      Re: Give it 10 years

      it would have probably disintegrated by then,

    3. asdf Silver badge

      Re: Give it 10 years

      Kind of like a Microsoft Kin.

    4. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Like the Jupiter Ace

      Pacman in 1K was impressive.

      I gave away my Jupiter ACE maybe in 1984. The novelty wore off once I'd learnt Forth. It certainly wasn't much use for anything else, though I did a tester using HW I/O and Forth for something in work. I forget what it tested.

      The ACT Sirius One in work was nicer than an IBM PC, but I couldn't afford anything at that time at home with floppies, never mind an HDD.

  7. ForthIsNotDead
    FAIL

    Shitty packaging...

    Wow - look at the shitty way it was packaged. Why didn't they just put it through a tumble dryer first?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9i2aBPKiRw

    1. LeahroyNake Silver badge

      Re: Shitty packaging...

      Wow, I have had a hammer delivered with better packaging !

      Maybe it will come in handy to push the buttons lol

      1. VinceH Silver badge

        Re: Shitty packaging...

        An unboxing video I found on the twitter a few days ago: https://twitter.com/ChinnyVision/status/1023198756018122752

      2. Red Bren

        Re: Shitty packaging...

        "I have had a hammer delivered with better packaging !"

        Lucky! Think of how many Vega+s have been saved from damage!

  8. werdsmith Silver badge

    Don't they owe people 4000 of these?

    I think there were 50 done, judging by the size of the order for populated PCBs.

  9. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Wah. What a sad tale.

  10. Ross 12

    Crowdfunded projects are risky definition, because you're financially backing something, not merely purchasing an item.

    But I don't think that's necessarily something to be scared of - just be cautious. And with that in mind, whenever you see a crowdfunded project by a **company**, run away, because it means they're not risking their own money.

    Just compare this sorry Vega+ tale to the ZX Spectrum Next. Yes, it's running late, but the first stage of developer boards went out. There's been regular monthly updates from the team which actually detail and show photos of the production process and how it's going. And the team is made up of passionate people who actually care about what they're doing, and are doing it not-for-profit. There's no shareholders and directors siphoning off money and bickering with each other. And the community of backers are actively involved - helping out with documentation, OS and firmware, writing emulators and games for it..

  11. Haku

    Yeah, well, I'm gonna go build my own Vega+...with blackjack and hookers!

    In fact, forget the Vega+!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Yeah, well, I'm gonna go build my own Vega+...with blackjack and hookers!

      "...with blackjack and hookers!"

      Wouldn't that make it a Vegas+?

  12. ItsMeDammit
    FAIL

    I was "lucky" enough to receive one...

    ... although I was expecting two. For those not in the know, RCL emailed the backers offering a "Blankety-blank" unit with just a handful of games (instead of the 1000 promised) as a means of getting their hands on a unit "early". Bearing in mind I figured this was probably the only chance I would ever have of seeing one I elected to receive my units "blank" and install my own choice of games via the microSD card route.

    The unit I have received arrived scratched, has appalling controls that are unresponsive and hard to use and is further tarnished by buggy software. Turning the screen brightness down introduces flicker and an odd interlacing anomaly. Sometimes it doesn't want to turn on at all unless I plug it in to recharge, then you can't turn the unit off and if the brightness is all the way up the battery takes forever to recharge (if at all - I haven't left it on to see if it ever charges completely).

    No cables, manuals or adequate packaging for that matter were supplied. Not even a photocopied A4 sheet describing how to load games onto it were included. I consider it to be a real slap in the face to the backers who actually receive one now since it was only ever going to be the love and nostalgia of the retro community that made something so niche work in the first place. It is no wonder so many are already appearing on ebay and no doubt selling for their rarity and novelty value.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I was "lucky" enough to receive one...

      > "Blankety Blank"

      I've got that bloody theme tune in my head now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I was "lucky" enough to receive one...

        "Its the supermatch game, supermatch game"...

        1. Duffaboy

          Re: I was "lucky" enough to receive one...

          "But you're not going away empty-handed - no, by Jiminy, you're not! You're taking away with you" (pause for dramatic effect) - "a botched together vega +!"

          1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

            Re: I was "lucky" enough to receive one...

            The second prize being TWO Vega+-es....

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I was "lucky" enough to receive one...

          Damn you all to hell..

          I have that stuck in my head now

  13. barrejam

    You've only got yourselves to blame.....

    IMHO those left out of pocket only have themselves to blame. 1980's computers were crap and by modern standards are really crap - why would you invest to buy one of these things when you can emulate it on a standard PC (for very little/no money) to satisfy your nostalgia?

    Incidentally, if you look at how Sinclair originally operated, this very much fits the MO - shoddy products, rushed out of the door to either meet artificail deadlines or to stave off moves by investors/share-holders to shut them down. My favourite indicattion of build quality was the company recommendation to use Blu-Tack to fix the wobble in the RAM expansion unit. It shows how poorly engineered the products were. How they sold millions of units is beyond me! The BBC film "Micro Men" tells the story quite well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You've only got yourselves to blame.....

      My 1985 Amiga 1000 (#2038 off the production line) was most definitely not crap.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: You've only got yourselves to blame.....

      Say what you like, Sinclair never delivered something this useless two years late.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You've only got yourselves to blame.....

        Say what you like, Sinclair never delivered something this useless two years late...

        Er... the c5.

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: You've only got yourselves to blame.....

      Yes those orignal popular 80s computers were rough and ready but I never noticed. To me in that era they were like some kind of magic. And without Sinclair I would not have got my hands on one at the right time. He drove the price down with his corner cutting and his sales numbers dragged the market with him. It was the point of revolution which actually did more for me than I can explain here. They most certainly not crap when not naively judged against the benefit of 35 years of development.

      I haven't backed this one as I spotted the red flags early and felt it was a £50 device not £100. But I like the idea.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looks excellent!

    As a confirmed Windows 10 fan (having upgraded my trusty Dell Dimension recently from Vista so I can run the latest version of Flash and speed up my Yahoo! Mail), I think I'm a pretty good judge of quality. And this looks seriously great. I've listened to the YouTube reviews, and honestly, some people don't half moan: crashes, stiff buttons, paper logos, ethical packaging, scratches, hand painted buttons, sharp edges blah... blah!. Stop whining, this is a hand-built creation, and get on with playing the 1000s of fully licensed games this little marvel comes crammed to the rafters with! You don't hear Ferrari owners moaning because their knobs squeak a bit, do you? As soon as the ten I ordered arrive, I'll post a proper review up, probably typed on the device itself. Good on you, all at RCL. What a winner! I'm really looking forward to the Vega QL+, surely the next logical development for these industrial titans! Where do I sign up!?

    1. Michael Strorm

      Re: Looks excellent!

      > I'm really looking forward to the Vega QL+

      I'd buy that for a dollar!

      No, really, that's all I'd risk on it at this point.

    2. tony trolle

      Re: Looks excellent!

      "You don't hear Ferrari owners moaning because their knobs squeak a bit,"

      The factory just said they will wear in, don't you just hate that.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Looks excellent!

        "You don't hear Ferrari owners moaning because their knobs squeak a bit,"

        In fact that's a hell of a party trick in the right company. As long as there are no cats around.

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Looks excellent!

      Where do I sign up!?

      Well, you could ask the nice nurse when she comes in with your afternoon medication. Getting her to undo the straitjacket straps might take more work though..

      And the brightly-coloured crayons that you are allowed might not be fine enough to tick all the boxes.

      :-)

  15. Mage Silver badge

    No QWERTY

    A lot of games need more buttons than a pair of configureable joypads.

    There are so many levels of stupid to this project,

    1. Sceptic Tank

      Re: No QWERTY

      There is always the virtual keyboard.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: No QWERTY

        That'll do so well for The Hobbit, Elite, or Skool Daze.

  16. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "On the other, such moves would also hammer a stake into the corpse of the Vega+."

    It depends. The IP would be one of the assets the administrators would want to realise cash on. If there's perceived to be a market for the device someone might be interested in buying it and goinf into production. Not that that would help those who've already paid.

    1. israel_hands

      The IP would be one of the assets the administrators would want to realise cash on.

      But they've just been stripped of the IP by Sky, so there's nothing to realise.

      It was a stupid idea from the start anyway. Nowhere near enough buttons for probably the majority of games, there are Speccy emulators out in the wild already and it probably would have been cheaper to get a custom case 3D-printed for a Raspberry Pi and bolt a screen onto the front of it.

      I don't understand some of the things people invest in on those crowdfunding sites. I've seen so many completely boneheaded ideas that will obviously never work from even a cursory glance and yet people throw money at them. I can understand chucking a small amount of cash at something you hope gets made, but I've seen so many fully-funded campaigns flounder, followed by the inevitable radio silence from the producers, empty anger from the backers and complete and utter fucking apathy from the thieving bastards running the sites.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "But they've just been stripped of the IP by Sky, so there's nothing to realise."

        They've been stripped of the Sinclair name and games. The H/W & firmware are still theirs. Whether that's of value or not is a different matter.

        1. israel_hands

          Fair point. But from what I've seen the parts are shit, the internal hardware is off-the-shelf and even if the reports of the firmware being shit aren't accurate, there are open source emulators already available.

          1. ItsMeDammit

            "...there are open source emulators already available."

            Indeed - the Vega+ uses one (FUSE).

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          It's not of value. They shouldn't be able to use the ROM either, that belongs to Sky.

  17. Bibbit

    Someone must be happy

    They raised almost half a million and produced sod all. So the scumbags heading upthe racket shift the money off shore and laugh all the way to the Cayman Islands?

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Someone must be happy

      I think a lot of the money may have gone in to sex robots.

      So in a way, the Vega+ backers have contributed to sex workers in a way. But everyone got fucked in the end, so does it matter?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Someone must be happy

      @Bibbit; Half a million sounds a lot on a personal level, but it's really nothing if you're frittering it away on unnecessary (and expensive) legal expenses, not to mention covering wages.

      For that reason, I hadn't expected there to be *any* left by this stage, and nor- as a result- for the Vega+ to ship at all, not even in the ultra-shoddy state it actually turned up in. It wouldn't surprise me if they'd covered the cost of producing that limited run from money elsewhere in the company, purely to avoid being kicked off the board and/or sued up the wazoo.

  18. short

    Fifty is a bloody odd number

    That's right in the sweet spot of annoyance - Too few for any kind of volume (real plastics, cheap parts and PCBs), and too many to casually knock out in an afternoon.

    SLA plastics, then? Would help explain the grotty buttons - but the clear display cover looks like a real moulded part?

    While it's no great loss if the Vega+ dies on its arse, it would be a shame for all the tooling to have been made, and then just a run of fifty cycles, then in to the bin. Especially for the people whose crowdfunding paid for the mould making.

    £500K doesn't get you many goes round at design, tooling, testing. Does it look like they nearly got there, or is this a product that's 90% there, and just needs a second, and possibly third 90% to be adequate?

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Fifty is a bloody odd number

      One of the reasons I held back from backing Planet Gemini, until I was sure, was because they were only aiming for $200K which I felt was never going to be enough. In the end they have attracted over $2.5M so far and I have a fine product.

      I don't think there is much laughing at RCL because it has been said that they have a legal bill of over £200K and those law firms aren't going to let that go. And I would guess that the rest of the cash is squandered on salaries and other expenses.

      The actual vega+ as shown for the start of the campaign actually looks really nice, but the final product is a poor cut down version. The internals and firmware are a state because the good engineers were badly treated, not paid and generally alienated by RCL.

  19. DrXym Silver badge

    The consolation prize

    At least the rarity of these pieces of crap will probably become collectible in time and might actually sell for more than they were initially worth.

    Still though, it highlights the folly of paying up front for a product that doesn't exist hoping it will appear at some unspecified point in the future in some form. Or not.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: The consolation prize

      Paying up front for the original Spectrum long before any finished versions were built isn't a lot different!

  20. E_Nigma

    Sad

    It looks like something that they built together good knows where with their last few pennies. Had the project not been mismanaged so badly, I assume that they would have had it manufactured to a somewhat higher standard.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shame

    It looks OK but not a patch on the original concept image.

    Shame as it had potential.

  22. Snarf Junky

    I presume the people who fell for this are the same ones wetting themselves over an Atari console that will more than likely never see the light of day either. Most retro computer stuff should stay exactly that. Let's face it, it was cutting edge at the time but it mostly pretty crap now.

    1. E_Nigma

      You're mixing up two things

      You're mixing failure to (properly) produce what was promised with obsolescence. This isn't crap because 30+ year old computer designs are crap by today's standards. This is crap because the execution is completely botched. It freezes (the old Speccy didn't do much of that), it arrives with visible physical damage, the controls are bloody awful (you have to press the directional buttons like crazy) and ~98% of games are missing. There is no need why any of that would be true (actually, this ought to be quite easy to not mess it up).

      As for the other thing, it may be that, even if it had been done properly, people would have had a bit of fun at the beginning and then put it away forever, but in the age in which Flappy Bird was a smash hit not long ago, there's a plethora of Spectrum games that one could get hooked on.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You're mixing up two things

        This is crap because the execution is completely botched. It freezes (the old Speccy didn't do much of that), it arrives with visible physical damage, the controls are bloody awful (you have to press the directional buttons like crazy) and ~98% of games are missing.

        Surely this is just nitpicking. Just you wait for version 2!

        1. SeanR
          Meh

          Re: You're mixing up two things

          this IS version two

          RCL said so...

      2. Spartacus Mills

        Re: You're mixing up two things

        someone actually programmed a very good Flappy Birds clone for the speccy a couple of years ago (just called 'FlappyBird')...sadly it doesn't seem to be in the WoS archive.

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