Childhood : The ZX Spectrum

In which I remember the dulcet tones of screaming tapes.

Steve Jobs presenting


While browsing around the internet I came across a replica of an old 1980’s computer that is now a bluetooth keyboard. I wasn’t really a console gamer in my youth and still prefer PC-based gaming today, and it reminded me about the first gaming machine I owned, a ZX Spectrum. A common complaint amongst some reviewers and gamers can often be loading times between different levels or locations, with anything over 15 seconds seeming like an eternity.

Obviously none of them were a Spectrum gamer, where five minutes or so of screeching from a tape deck was required before any game could begin. Unless of course there was a problem with the connections or the tape which would require you to start all over again.

20 GOTO 10

To begin with the family owned the ZX Spectrum+ which required the additional tape deck, but a few years later we decided to splash out on the ZX Spectrum+2A which had its own in built player and a light gun (despite the fact we couldn’t get the game that came with the bundle to load). It was the first gaming machine and first computer we had in the home, although having word processing capabilities was a bit pointless without the means to print (or easily save) any work we had done. Owning a Spectrum also meant you had sided with Sinclair in the Home-Computer Wars of the late-80’s.

It also meant this was the noise of your childhood:

As fierce as any xBox/PS fanboy battle today you were either in the Sinclair Spectrum-camp or were a Commodore fan. Added into the mix were the Amiga-ites or the niche BBC-Microcomputer posse. Just as there are today there were also the big publishers, not quite as powerful (or arguably as evil) and were more an outlet for bedroom programmers.

Names such as U.S Gold (Winter Games, Zaxxon, Super Monaco GP) or Ocean (Track & Field, Top Gun, Head over Heels) have disappeared, while a few such as Codemasters (Dizzy series) have managed to survive the transition across gaming generations. This was the great thing about computers at this time, they allowed kids in their bedrooms to write code, to get your screen to say hello all that was required was a simple 10 PRINT “HELLO WORLD”.

Graphics were there to supplement the gameplay, not be the focus as there is only so much you can do with a limited colour palette. I used to play on the Spectrum every night, wasting away hours on Jet Set Willy or Football Manager but like any childhood friendship it was bound to end. During the mid-90’s my eyes were turned by an Olivetti PC (with Windows 3.1). Games could be played directly from it and came on discs, they were full of colour and complexity.

Such graphics, how could I abandon you for more than 16 colours?

The ignominious end came when I took my ZX Spectrum in to a games shop to see how much I could get for exchange. Despite all the games I had for it (a whole box load) I was offered £5.


20 GOTO 10

What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.

Source: Childhood Revisited


Author: geekergosum

Ah, so you worked out the riddle. You just needed to use dwarfish and the doors to Geek Ergo Sum opened. Or perhaps you just used Google. Either way you are here, on my little corner of the Internet.

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