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(BBC)   Happy 30th birthday ZX Spectrum. I'll check mine later, Jetpack might have loaded by now   (bbc.co.uk ) divider line
    More: Cool, ZX Spectrum, bauhaus, Royal Ontario Museum, BBC Micro  
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1780 clicks; posted to Geek » on 24 Apr 2012 at 12:47 PM (4 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



34 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2012-04-24 01:04:33 PM  
Sorry but that computer sucked, especially its "keyboard".
 
2012-04-24 01:05:07 PM  
Thanks for being the weak little home computer that lazy game publishers targeted as their baseline, resulting in a glut of lousy ports for other platforms like Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64 that didn't come close to using a fraction of their native graphics and sound capabilities.
 
2012-04-24 01:07:26 PM  
I recently tried to explain to my nephews (11 and 13) the sort of home computers around when I was their age. They couldn't believe a machine with the spectrum's spec could do anything more than be a calculator plugged into a tv.
 
2012-04-24 01:09:48 PM  
 
2012-04-24 01:15:26 PM  
The ZX Spectrum was a joke by 1982 standards, the IBM PC came out in 1981 and the Atari 800 in 1979.

oldcomputers.net
 
2012-04-24 01:27:04 PM  
oldcomputers.net

FTW
 
2012-04-24 01:50:20 PM  

Regas: Hey, hey 16K. What does that get you today?

/Obligatory


Covered. Nice job. :-)

I lisened to that just about a week ago, and it's all that my head plays at work. I normally tire of brainworms like that pretty quickly, but it's such a fantastic pop song that I'm only too happy to bounce around my job, occasionaly singing "They bought it to hep you with you homework!!"

Class song, with a class video!!
 
2012-04-24 01:51:52 PM  
What the Spectrum haters have to remember is that it was way cheaper than the alternatives. It also came out before the C64 and Amstrad machines in the UK. It was got a lot of UK kids of my generation into computers and coding. Maybe most only made shiatty BASIC apps, but others ventured into Z80 asm. There's a charm about the extreme simplicity of its design. It's responsible for getting many people into IT.

The Atari computers didn't gain traction in the UK until the ST much later on. IT was between the Speccy, C64 and later on the Amstrad CPC (and BBC's for the posh kids). They all had strengths and weaknesses. The C64's SID murdered the Speccy on sound, and in it's 2D sprite comfort zone it ruled. The Speccy's faster CPU gave it the advantage in 3D titles though.

The C64 didn't really suffer from lowest common denominator ports either. It different CPU, low-res colourful (well many shades of brown and blue) graphics mode, and sound capabilities saw to that. The Z80 powered Amstrad on the other hand certainly did. Too many lazy direct monochrome ports of Speccy titles there.

It did something right as it sold well in its day, and there is still an active community producing software, emulators and other utilities round it today.
 
2012-04-24 02:24:13 PM  

jwrw: Speccy love


THIS!!!

/48k, then +3 owner.
//+3's disc drive's load times wow'd the farkoutta all my c64 owning mates.
 
2012-04-24 02:29:17 PM  

jwrw: What the Spectrum haters have to remember is that it was way cheaper than the alternatives. It also came out before the C64 and Amstrad machines in the UK. It was got a lot of UK kids of my generation into computers and coding. Maybe most only made shiatty BASIC apps, but others ventured into Z80 asm. There's a charm about the extreme simplicity of its design. It's responsible for getting many people into IT.

The Atari computers didn't gain traction in the UK until the ST much later on. IT was between the Speccy, C64 and later on the Amstrad CPC (and BBC's for the posh kids). They all had strengths and weaknesses. The C64's SID murdered the Speccy on sound, and in it's 2D sprite comfort zone it ruled. The Speccy's faster CPU gave it the advantage in 3D titles though.

The C64 didn't really suffer from lowest common denominator ports either. It different CPU, low-res colourful (well many shades of brown and blue) graphics mode, and sound capabilities saw to that. The Z80 powered Amstrad on the other hand certainly did. Too many lazy direct monochrome ports of Speccy titles there.

It did something right as it sold well in its day, and there is still an active community producing software, emulators and other utilities round it today.


So basically yes it sucked but it was dirt cheap and all you guys had. Anyone still making stuff for it is doing so strictly out of nostalgia though, it was an absolutely terrible machine. People are still making games for the Atari Jaguar too.
 
2012-04-24 02:52:02 PM  

Hand Banana: So basically yes it sucked but it was dirt cheap and all you guys had. Anyone still making stuff for it is doing so strictly out of nostalgia though, it was an absolutely terrible machine. People are still making games for the Atari Jaguar too.


It didn't suck compared to the UK competition on release. It was a great combination of simplicity of design with enough features to make a worthwhile product. It certainly had its flaws, but so did every other 8-bit out there. They were all very constrained machines, and they all had their compromises. For the price, and that really mattered in the UK in the early 80s, the Spectrum was a good machine for its time. There were some splendid games made for it, and the world would have been a poorer place without it.

British legend!
farm3.staticflickr.com
 
2012-04-24 02:57:57 PM  
Still got mine. A whole 48K in that beast.

a3.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net
 
2012-04-24 03:00:36 PM  

jwrw: Truth, pure truth


Yes, that nails it 100%. I had a Commodore 64 and am thus the natural schoolyard enemy of the Spectrum owner, but will admit that it has some superb games. I've spent many hours catching up on the other side since via emulation.
 
2012-04-24 03:33:26 PM  

Hand Banana: So basically yes it sucked but it was dirt cheap and all you guys had. Anyone still making stuff for it is doing so strictly out of nostalgia though, it was an absolutely terrible machine. People are still making games for the Atari Jaguar too.


You can't judge something without taking the price into account. I had a BBC Micro, which was a better machine all round (particularly the keyboard... ugh, I can't imagine typing in a program on the Spectrum's), But then it was significantly more expensive.

And comparing it to the IBM PC is just silly, that machine was about 10 times the price.
 
2012-04-24 04:58:27 PM  
My dad bought me one of these. I remember getting really frustrated when the RAM cartridge would unseat itself, destroying all my work. Still though, pretty cool of him.

Thanks dad.
 
2012-04-24 05:20:58 PM  

poot_rootbeer: Thanks for being the weak little home computer that lazy game publishers targeted as their baseline, resulting in a glut of lousy ports for other platforms like Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64 that didn't come close to using a fraction of their native graphics and sound capabilities.


Yeah.

Though the C64 ports almost always had a unique soundtrack.

But god the ZX Spectrum sucked, and people were morons for purchasing one (the same goes for the Amstrad).
 
2012-04-24 05:31:09 PM  

Hebalo: My dad bought me one of these. I remember getting really frustrated when the RAM cartridge would unseat itself, destroying all my work. Still though, pretty cool of him.

Thanks dad.


My family all pitched in together to buy me my C64, as did so many other parents and families. I wonder if they ever realised at the time what an enormous impact those gifts would have on our entire lives. Our generation was quite fortunate. We were young enough to be excited about micros and able to learn the comparatively arcane commands needed to use them with ease, and we are old enough to have been there since the beginning and to have witnessed and participated actively in all of the changes that have taken place since.
 
2012-04-24 05:32:21 PM  
The squishy rubber keyboard was one of the main reasons the price was so low, they reduced the number of moving parts to a minimum.
 
2012-04-24 08:56:36 PM  

Hand Banana: jwrw: What the Spectrum haters have to remember is that it was way cheaper than the alternatives. It also came out before the C64 and Amstrad machines in the UK. It was got a lot of UK kids of my generation into computers and coding. Maybe most only made shiatty BASIC apps, but others ventured into Z80 asm. There's a charm about the extreme simplicity of its design. It's responsible for getting many people into IT.

The Atari computers didn't gain traction in the UK until the ST much later on. IT was between the Speccy, C64 and later on the Amstrad CPC (and BBC's for the posh kids). They all had strengths and weaknesses. The C64's SID murdered the Speccy on sound, and in it's 2D sprite comfort zone it ruled. The Speccy's faster CPU gave it the advantage in 3D titles though.

The C64 didn't really suffer from lowest common denominator ports either. It different CPU, low-res colourful (well many shades of brown and blue) graphics mode, and sound capabilities saw to that. The Z80 powered Amstrad on the other hand certainly did. Too many lazy direct monochrome ports of Speccy titles there.

It did something right as it sold well in its day, and there is still an active community producing software, emulators and other utilities round it today.

So basically yes it sucked but it was dirt cheap and all you guys had. Anyone still making stuff for it is doing so strictly out of nostalgia though, it was an absolutely terrible machine. People are still making games for the Atari Jaguar too.


Cute.
 
2012-04-24 09:05:12 PM  
Ah the spectrum. I used to type game code in manually and leave the thing running, quicker and less frustrating than using a tape drive.

Still a pretty shiatty programmer...sigh.
 
2012-04-24 10:44:59 PM  

jwrw: What the Spectrum haters have to remember is that it was way cheaper than the alternatives.


The problem is, a lot of the people in this thread don't remember those 'halcyon' days. An Apple II cost a farking truckload in Europe (seriously it was over £1000), the C64 was cheaper yes, but still on the high side. The Spectrum 48k was pretty much the first home computer you could buy for less than £100. (£99.99 being less than £100 but there you have it).

I also suspect a lot of the American's didn't have the rack upon rack of titles that appeared in every supermarket with prices from 99p up to £20+ (I remember a Spectrum game that was basically a magnetic board game featuring harriers and carriers which the computer kept track of and dice rolled for you) from companies like Gremlin Graphics and Imagine.

That isn't to say the Spectrum 48K was good. It wasn't, perhaps a symptom of cutting one too many corners to meet the price point made the keyboard... tricky to use for any real work; people programming it often used machines with replaced keyboards so they could type properly. It also had a nasty habit of it's power bricks going 'phut' and the connector getting dry joints.

But whilst much attention is lavished on the early years of American computing, Gates & Jobs for the most part, reading about the history of Sinclair Computers is fascinating. If he'd played it just a little differently, the IBM PC may not of achieved dominance in the UK and potentially be the Apple of the market as it were.

Speaking of game pricing, whatever happened to the 'straight to budget' segment? Seems everything publishers put out these days has to be AAA backed by squillions of pounds of budget or cheap home computing for that matter, something well supported you can bolt to a HDTV for well... £99 and get cheap thrills from... kids computers I guess?
 
2012-04-24 11:13:12 PM  
Actually it wasnt a bad machine at all, from a machine language programmers perspective. And the constraints led to a lot of extremely good programmers coming out of that generation, the z80 is a very solid processor to learn fundamentals on, and you learned to come up with seriously clever tricks to get the most out of it.
 
2012-04-24 11:13:26 PM  
The Timex/Sinclair (the predecessor of this) was still fun. For all of like 50USD, you had a working computer. As to the keyboard, I actually liked the CTRL/FUN/Shift keyword nonsense. While not up to IBM standards, or even TRS-80 standards, it was more functional that the touchscreens we have today.
If people had kept the ability to actually program in less than a gig of memory, can you imagine what today's machines could do.

/but I still wouldn't wanna even attempt 1/10th of what I do today on one.
//and I know some folks still program in assembler w/o using more memory than China has humans
///get off my lawn
 
2012-04-24 11:21:29 PM  
Oh the first one was a bit crumby but eventually we got the Spectrum +2 and +3 and they were truly awesome.
 
2012-04-24 11:58:02 PM  
I was lucky enough to have started on the Timex Sinclair 1000 with the optional 16k pak and then a couple years later migrated to the Commodore 64. I can honestly say that no other computer system has brought me as much wonder and fun. I'm sure some of that was due to the fact it was truly the dawn of a new age; still it was a lot of fun.
 
2012-04-25 12:24:56 AM  
 
2012-04-25 12:32:57 AM  

fredzilla: I was lucky enough to have started on the Timex Sinclair 1000 with the optional 16k pak and then a couple years later migrated to the Commodore 64. I can honestly say that no other computer system has brought me as much wonder and fun. I'm sure some of that was due to the fact it was truly the dawn of a new age; still it was a lot of fun.


I remember seeing the advertisement for the $99 Timex Sinclair 1000 in the paper and begging my father to get me one for Christmas, which he did. Unfortunately I only had the 2K basic computer. The expansion pack, which was really 14k, to take the total to 16k, was an additional $250 or more which was a little out of my price range. I spent many hours programming my little computer and trying to save and load programs from my cassette tape recorder.

Luckily a few years later I was able to get a used Apple II+ with a monochrome monitor for like $400. That beast had a full 64k which is all the memory any programmer would ever need for eternity. My dual floppies could hold an amazing 360k on a disk! That's like hundreds of pages of text! Imagine a box full of floppies and you could fit a good sized library on that.
 
2012-04-25 01:34:23 AM  

Vaneshi: Speaking of game pricing, whatever happened to the 'straight to budget' segment? Seems everything publishers put out these days has to be AAA backed by squillions of pounds of budget or cheap home computing for that matter, something well supported you can bolt to a HDTV for well... £99 and get cheap thrills from... kids computers I guess?


It is there. It's come back with a vengeance over the past five years, and in all honesty I couldn't be happier. Part of it is on mobile platforms, part of it is through download markets on console, and quite a lot of it is in self-published independent gaming on the PC.

There are now a huge number of games coming out for £15 or less from homebrew coders and tiny startups, and once you wade past the morass of identikit match 3 puzzles, time management games and hidden object games you can find a wealth of fresh, new ideas. It reminds me of the golden days when a single programmer or small team could write and sell a game inside of a month, except now we don't have the likes of Zzap or Your Sinclair to let us know about them.

Nevertheless it is well worth searching them out. Today you can find excellent games for a few quid or even for free. My latest purchase, now unfortunately no longer available, was the AGS Bake Sale. A dozen games, name your price, and all for charity. Look here for many, many more quality indie games including quite a good number of freeware titles for download.
 
2012-04-25 05:58:47 AM  
Head Over Heels for the 48k Spectrum is still my favourite game of all time. You can take your flashy graphics, hour-long cutscenes and actor-voiced characters and shove them all right up your freckle.
When you had such a limited amount of memory to play with, it was all about the gameplay, and that game nailed it. This doesn't of course hold true for everything made for these machines, but there were some absolutely killer games.

/fried it eventually and got the Atari STe
//C64 and Amiga owners can suck it
///Mrs Hotdog refuses to let me get Horace on his skis tattooed on my schlong
 
2012-04-25 06:10:10 AM  
I remember waiting for the arcade ports on this woefully under-coloured machine. Enduro Racer (actually ok), Outrun (not bad), Double Dragon (awful), Championship Sprint (ace), Target Renegade (aka Double Dragon 2) (brilliant). It still amazes me that somehow Elite ran on that thing. And later Zarch. People really squeezed the most out of that thing...

Oh, and R-Type - where they ditched all the sound in order to get it to run at a decent rate... And tape-to-tape copying being the first form of mass piracy of video games. A good old C90 with as many games as you could cram on it, and trying to find them with a tape player that had a broken counter. That needed a Bic pen top jammed in the play button to make it play.
 
2012-04-25 10:30:34 AM  

Vaneshi: I also suspect a lot of the American's didn't have the rack upon rack of titles that appeared in every supermarket with prices from 99p up to £20+


I don't recall ever seeing home computer software for sale in supermarkets in early-'80s America. Back then our choices were either mail-order from the ads at the back of Byte Magazine, a trip to the little beige computer shop at the strip mall that smelled like old modems and sadness, or a stop at the software booth at the flea market, where you could buy shareware in bulk for a dollar per disk (registration not included).
 
2012-04-25 11:14:54 AM  

poot_rootbeer: Vaneshi: I also suspect a lot of the American's didn't have the rack upon rack of titles that appeared in every supermarket with prices from 99p up to £20+

I don't recall ever seeing home computer software for sale in supermarkets in early-'80s America. Back then our choices were either mail-order from the ads at the back of Byte Magazine, a trip to the little beige computer shop at the strip mall that smelled like old modems and sadness, or a stop at the software booth at the flea market, where you could buy shareware in bulk for a dollar per disk (registration not included).


Damn. Over here even the little corner shop's had a small rack loaded with the 99p titles. I think it really helped the Spectrum/C64 and such take off over here as software (mainly games) was never more than 5min walk away.
 
2012-04-25 04:35:52 PM  

Regas: Hey, hey 16K. What does that get you today?

/Obligatory


The Elite loading screen. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
 
2012-04-26 08:27:03 AM  

Vaneshi: poot_rootbeer: Vaneshi: I also suspect a lot of the American's didn't have the rack upon rack of titles that appeared in every supermarket with prices from 99p up to £20+

I don't recall ever seeing home computer software for sale in supermarkets in early-'80s America. Back then our choices were either mail-order from the ads at the back of Byte Magazine, a trip to the little beige computer shop at the strip mall that smelled like old modems and sadness, or a stop at the software booth at the flea market, where you could buy shareware in bulk for a dollar per disk (registration not included).

Damn. Over here even the little corner shop's had a small rack loaded with the 99p titles. I think it really helped the Spectrum/C64 and such take off over here as software (mainly games) was never more than 5min walk away.


Yeah that was my experience too. My pocket money would go to the local corner shop to get a 99p or £1.99 game. In my town John Menzies and WH Smiths (basically newsagent chains) had plenty of games, even Boots stocked games at some point. Later in its life, the magazines Crash and Sinclair User even had cover tapes with up to 4 games on them each month.

Say what you want about the tech specs of the Spectrum, but it was cheap to own, cheap to run, and most gamers and programmers I know started off with it in some form.
 
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