Posted by drew10 on Apr 23, 2012
Happy Birthday Speccy

Happy Birthday Speccy

Today marks the 30th anniversary (yes you did read that correctly and yes you really are that old) of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

The little rubber-keyed marvel was designed by Richard Altwasser and Rick Dickson for Sinclair as a serious business computer that could be used at home. Featuring a memory of some impressive 48k it soon became apparent that the machine would find its way into many a home as a gaming hub. Games came on tape, yes tape and if you think the loading times on the PS3 are bad waiting 15 minutes for a game to load on tape only for it to fail at the last second would have really done your nut in. But we didn’t care as long as we finally got to play Way of the Exploding Fist.

The Spectrum really set off the home computer market and for the first time allowed users to type in their own codes to create games for themselves. In fact many of gamings greatest creators started out typing:

10 print “Game4anything is great”

20 goto 10.

Anyone too young to not have a clue what that miraculous piece of code would produce is well, a bit annoying really. In those days computer games magazines like Crash or Sinclair User would print the entire code for a game in the centre pages. Ages would be spent meticulously typing in the codes. With great anticipation, after hours of typing you finally get to type the word ‘run’ only for the screen to return “Error in line 30”. Frantically you would check the page, everything you had typed was exactly what was in the mag. Hours wasted because of a bloody typo. Ah those were the days!!

Looking back with such fond memories we may be wearing rose tinted glasses but how programmers could squeeze entire games into 48k is beyond us. Especially when you consider games like Elite a game about an entire galaxy where you could trade goods fight baddies, dock in space stations. It even featured 3 dimensional vector graphics. In 48k! To put that into perspective a Samsung Galaxy s2 phone has 1 Gigabyte of internal memory. That is 1,048,576 kilobytes, the Speccy had well, 48 and yet managed to produce some truly excellent games.

Manic Minor, Jet Set Willy, Dizzy and The Last Ninja are some of the titles that still bring smiles to the faces of us 30-somethings when we recall those golden days. These were games that you really needed to invest in. You did not have saves so if you died you started again. If you turned it off, you started again. If someone tripped over the bloody cable just as you got to the moon on Jet Set Willy 2, you started again (it still hurts!) But yet this was an advanced machine and one that anyone who owned one looks back on with true feelings of affection.

So Sir Clive Sinclair we thank you for all those days and very happy memories and to the wonderful Spectrum 48k Happy Birthday!

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