What makes you continue your Spectrum interest?

Y'know, other stuff, Sinclair related.
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bob_fossil
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Re: What makes you continue your Spectrum interest?

Post by bob_fossil » Thu Feb 22, 2018 6:28 pm

I never really left. :) After getting my first Spectrum in 1984, I got an Amiga 500 in the mid 90s. I had gotten the programming bug off the Spectrum so I was always trying to write something Spectrum related in AMOS or converting a type-in from INPUT magazine. Then I came across a terribly slow Spectrum emulator from a PD library which let me play a load of Spectrum games I'd never came across before.

I upgraded to an Amiga 1200 which let me play Spectrum games on it a little less slowly with a better emulator. This also had a nice debugger which let me stick breakpoints into things and get my head around assembly. When I went to Uni, I had access to the internet for the first time and found out there was all sorts of Speccy stuff on the net (comp.sys.sinclair and ftp.nvg.unit.no). I got my first Windows PC soon after and could finally emulate stuff properly. It also had a sound card so I could convert my tapes and upload them.

I was never a big games player and I've always enjoyed coding. Doing something on the Spectrum was an itch I wanted to scratch. When I found out that z88dk was a thing and I could code in C on the Spectrum on my desktop PC, I set myself the goal of trying to write a game. I had a childhood dream of writing some smash game for a big software house - though that dream was slightly put into check having worked with someone who did work in a big software house in the 80s.

I like the idea of making new things for a machine that is nearly as old as I am and that you can recognise a Spectrum game from the colours and graphics style.
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Re: What makes you continue your Spectrum interest?

Post by AndyC » Thu Feb 22, 2018 6:52 pm

As a developer, programming on limited platforms is just a lot more fun. With a PC you can basically do anything and it's not too difficult, but given an 8-bit CPU and limited supporting hardware you have much more of a challenge to produce something.
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Re: What makes you continue your Spectrum interest?

Post by 1024MAK » Thu Feb 22, 2018 7:39 pm

When was the last time you saw someone soldering components on a modern PC motherboard?

When was the last time you saw someone enjoying learning how to use assembly language on a modern PC (not including using a emulator or similar application)?

Come to that, when was the last time that you saw someone enjoying writing their own program on a PC using a BASIC like high level language (not including using a emulator or similar application)?

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Nomad
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Re: What makes you continue your Spectrum interest?

Post by Nomad » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:35 pm

To do all that one is able to do, is to be a man; to do all that one would like to do, is to be a god.
-- Napoleon Bonaparte
Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness.
-- H.P Lovecraft
I had my spectrum right up until we got a 486 dx2. :lol: For me these microcomputers were a major part of my childhood. People forget how boring it was compared to today for kids (and adults) the access to entertainment/diversions were much more limited.

Only a few channels on the tv, no internet, bbs culture in the UK was nowhere near the level of the US. (You had prestel but that was very expensive, I didn't know anyone that used it.)

What I remember about this period is most just played the games, you could buy the games from anyplace it seemed even in rural England. Stores would sell these to you for a few pounds. It was realistic as a kid to be able to get these things. Same as the magazines. Towards the end of the 80s you could get magazines that had loads of games for that money.

Compare that to sega or nintendo. For the price of one game I could get 30+ spectrum games.

But for me the thing that kept me intrested all that time, was the typeins. I would spend hours typing in listings. The sence of achevement as a young lad seeing somthing you wrote actually do somthing. It was not like electronics where you had to pay to play. Every mistake you made cost you money and so you would fear to experement less you lost your inventory.

With programming you could make as many mistakes as you liked and it didn't matter you just lost your time. I used to type in the bytecode for some listings but that was about it. at the time most information on machine code was all about using it with basic and/or creating your own byte code input routine. It was not a good way to learn. So mostly I just stuck with basic. I often wonder what I would have done if I had had hisoft or zeus back in the day.

But I think a lot of what came later with the spectrum scene was because people could easily share information. Back then you learned from magazines like INPUT or the books. And for the most part the books were crap. But I still enjoyed getting microcomputer books. For me anyway childhood was pretty dull in the 80s lol. I think its one of the last time kids played in the fields, and not kept inside for fear of some mystery man doing them harm :lol:

Anyway - yea usergroups. Being in a rural village meant I would have had to have traveled over an hour and 30 mins just to get to the nearest population center. Plus my thinking at the time was after all that effort would I really be able to learn anything useful? I had friends already I could get all the games I wanted. I think I saw usergroups was something that sad cases used who didn't have friends to copy games. (You will have to forget my 8 year old self dropping truth bombs) :lol:

In school we got to use the BBC micro and I was as fascinated with this as the spectrum, the teachers wouldn't let me tinker with it as these things cost a lot of money and if your parents were not PTA people you didn't get extra time. :lol: This irritated me but at the time I was not so salty as I should have been because I knew a few hours later I could be back home with my spectrum. I knew a kid that had a BBC micro and he was always bitter there was not more games for the system.

I guess if I were a little older (like a teenager in the 80s) then for sure I would have wanted a BBC micro/MSX. Don't get me wrong I love the Atari but access would have been a killer. Same thing goes with the other obscure microcomputers. Where would I have gotten the software?

If I had had rich parents or been working in the 80s then sure I would have gotten an apple II or if I could have gotten my hands on one a s100 bus system. But that was a rich mans hobby.

Anyway - I credit these microcomputers (even the crap ones like VIC 20) with a life long interest in programming. I might not have been very good but its scary how different life would have been without these machines.

I do wonder what would have been, had I not have been introduced to the microcomputers. I guess I would have just been a maths nerd.

Why I still program on the microcomputers, I find it fun. You can't know a modern system as completely as these microcomputers. Plus you always have the potential for someone to totally pull the rug out from under you with a software update to the OS. (Even with linux). I don't feel I have the control of the system like I do with the microcomputers.

Like joefish said its a complete system - we know a great deal more about what is possible. But even with 8-bit microcomputers, you look at something like the Atari and you can spend your life studying it and still not discover everything. There is a lot of hidden depth to microcomputers.

When I saw the demos people had done - I was amazed. For me that is beautiful. Even if its not practical to be able to make a machine do something that nobody thought was possible. That is amazing. To be able to know you can bend a thing to your will. Make it do what you want. That is also good.

I program my own tools on the 64 bit systems, I plan to put Forth on the bare metal - lol I guess microcomputers change the way you see yourself and the computer. modern users are happy to just be a user and dependent on others. For me I want to have that control I did with the 8 bit machines on modern systems. I don't care if I don't have a thousand apps or widgets I don't need slowing down the system. :lol:

Plus for me modern computers represent a different period in my life. I don't know but using borland c gives me a different feeling today. I remember my college life but its not the same as working with the 8-bit machines. The PCs were something used for work. I guess that is it.
Last edited by Nomad on Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What makes you continue your Spectrum interest?

Post by 5MinuteRetro » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:36 pm

Mike Davies wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 4:12 pm
It's rediscovery
That encapsulates it for me. So much of everything that meant so much to me as a teen now viewed from an adult perspective. The results are academic; the rediscovery is the enjoyment.
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Re: What makes you continue your Spectrum interest?

Post by 5MinuteRetro » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:42 pm

5MinuteRetro wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:36 pm
The results are academic; the rediscovery is the enjoyment.
And just to follow up that thought... I was recently looking at the map of Way of the Exploding Fist II. As a kid, that game captivated me. I never completed it but I so very much wanted to get to the next screen. Now, as an adult, looking at the map (https://maps.speccy.cz/map.php?id=Way2) I can see that it was really a bit rubbish: the same few graphical assets, endlessly rehashed.

Conversely, Fat Worm Blows a Sparky is a game that I didn't really 'get' way back when (though I did appreciate the graphics). Now, I understand it on a whole other level, and love it because of that. Still, where's the map?!
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Re: What makes you continue your Spectrum interest?

Post by Joefish » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:12 am

Nomad wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:35 pm
But I think a lot of what came later with the spectrum scene was because people could easily share information. Back then you learned from magazines like INPUT or the books. And for the most part the books were crap. But I still enjoyed getting microcomputer books. For me anyway childhood was pretty dull in the 80s lol. I think its one of the last time kids played in the fields, and not kept inside for fear of some mystery man doing them harm :lol:
The funny thing is you kind of trusted those books and magazines to inform you; now you realise that a lot of people writing them might have known the ins and outs of the technology, but hadn't the faintest idea how to educate someone, or even explain a fraction of what they were doing!
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Re: What makes you continue your Spectrum interest?

Post by Nomad » Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:21 pm

Tim Hartnell for me was a fascinating figure, like a kind of Obi Wan of the ZX Spectrum. Later when the internet was a thing I found out he had written or was the editor for books on other systems, not just the spectrum. How the man found the time and energy to write so much in such a short amount of time, network and create a brand that was marketable at the infancy of computing in the UK for me is one of the most impressive things anyone did back in the day.

What is even more impressive is the guy had no formal background in computers, from what I can gather he was a journalist by trade. So he was self taught.

Such a pitty cancer took him so early.
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Re: What makes you continue your Spectrum interest?

Post by Morcar » Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:22 am

Being with the Spectrum since 1983 its never left my side. Even when I had all the newest and greatest machines there was the Speccy waiting to be used. I have gone in and out of the Speccy scene quite a lot over the past few years because of issues, but I always return (like a bad smell to some)

Currently, the ZX Omni has really interested me and my mojo is back for the Speccy.

My other hobby is playing the keyboard as I have done it for almost 30 years. I also teach my kids about retro gaming and playing the keyboard and they have become really good at both.

Not much interests me though for hobbies as I get bored quick.
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