Bank Holiday Geek Out

Or- Full Spectrum Dominance!

While mooching around this here web thingy I came across mention of an old video game that in America was called ‘Contra‘ hmmm. Anyway that led me to revel in a bit of kompooter nostalgia and thanks to the world wide intertubes I have been able to revisit the first machine I ever had- the 48K Sinclair Spectrum (yes with the rubber keys). Actually looking at the speccy I have to say the design remains really very nice, it still looks good. Perhaps I am biased, the beige BBC micro was never much to look at.

I saved up and got the Spectrum when it was about £130. In a very rough way the Spectrum was the cheaper slightly lower class computer, the BBC Micro was the proper BBC middle class machine (as was the Commodore 64). I would venture to suggest as price is a big factor in who owns what the Spectrum  was more of a people’s machine than the pricier rivals, certainly the posher kids in school had BBC’s but let’s face, the speccy had the gamez! Admittedly they were a big part of using it, I got a C90 cassette off a guy in school with 20 on it, oh the piracy (yes you’d load them via a cassette player you plugged into the back)! You also learned a bit of programming and I loved the 3D drawing program which is amazing when you consider-

The Spectrum is based on a Zilog Z80A CPU running at 3.5 MHz (or NEC D780C-1 clone), the original model Spectrum has 16 KB (16×1024 bytes) of ROM and either 16 KB or 48 KB of RAM.

Fuck me, even security tags on socks have better specs these days! It was a triumph of ingenuity, whereas today such excellence is matched by software bloat that fills the latest machines (Leopard  needs 512MB of memory 9GB of available disk space, ok it does somewhat more but still, blimey!). Anyways, here’s the bank holiday fun (and Cheesus it’s dark here, low grey cloud and people have got the lights on even though it’s lunchtime) you can play excellent online versions of Spectrum games, my two favourites- Jetpac and Ant Attack plus loads more, or you can get emulators and original game files (some digitised from the audio cassettes).

And now a dull list of all the kompooters wot I have owned-

48K Spectrum. Sold it.

Then bugger all for years.

A Compaq laptop with b&w screen running windows and word 6 (I think). Broke.

Some beige pc desktop with windows ’95. Gave it away.

Apple Performa 5200, running OS 9, yes with 56K modem this baby surfed the web. Still have it, must take it to the recycling place.

This machine Apple Powermac 2001 Quicksilver. Being used as I type (though not on the original keyboard, mentioning no names, ahem Mogawi, way to repeatedly spill water you furry monkey)!

Also while that is my main machine I also bought off eBay-

2009…waiting for Nehalem/Core i7 to arrive then, savings willing, it’ll be a new Mac.

3 Responses to “Bank Holiday Geek Out”

  1. ralfast Says:

    Wow, haven’t seen one of those in years! And to think that last night I dreamed of the first computer I ever owned, the old reliable C-64! Used it for 8 years! Can’t say that about any PC I have ever owned (4 and counting!).

    As for Contra, yep, that was an 80s American Rambo style side-shooter where the hero (tall,blond and muscular) packed ever more impressive and surreal guns in his quest to destroyed the “Alien” like monsters in some strange jungle setting. Hours of fun if you allowed the flood of vapid Cold War propaganda to flow through you.

    16k-48k-64k! Those where the days!

  2. RickB Says:

    Apparently Contra was renamed for outside the US, and was more robot-y and alien-y, less Reagan ‘our backyard-y’. Still I think one sequel should’ve been called Iran which would have been bundled with the original, maybe with a special introduction by Ollie North.
    Yeah just amazing, these things worked in a range of sizes that probably tv remotes beat now. And now when you get a game that has that level of game play but with all the graphic and sound advances, that’s pretty amazing. A friend had an amiga for a while too, which I think they did the cgi for Babylon 5 on, at least for the beginning.

  3. ralfast Says:

    True about B5. The Amiga was, and in many ways still is, a great machine. But when Commodore went belly up, so did the Amiga brand. Awhile back somebody brought back the brand, but for PC. Not the same.

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