A personal history of personal computers - the ZX Spectrum


the abyss
I wondered whether peeps here would be interested in a new technology blog I started recently. I've just written a rather long article about the golden years of the UK microcomputer industry, focussing on the ZX Spectrum and key developers I feel stood out as innovators - Mel Croucher of Automata, Matthew Smith of Bug Byte, Ultimate Play The Game (who became Rare, the studio that did Golden Eye) and Mike Singleton.


Oh and the first post in the series deals with text-based adventure games. I'd love to know what you think.


All I have to add is a hearty 'bravo!' i still remember playing manic miner on my mates spectrum in the mid 80's.

A piece about the horrifically soul destroying yet character building nightmare of tape based games would be nice.


Darned cockwombles.
I got into the Spectrum emulator sometime last year, just to replay my favourite games of yore. Have to say Myth held up particularly well, as of course did Manic Miner (although having to replay all the levels after dying each time killed it for me eventually)...other platform games not so much. Didn't get back into head Over Heels or Gauntlet, as that might have takne over my entire life.

I still remember getting my 128K +2 (the tape recorder incorporated INTO the machine - amazing!) and playing...now, what was it? Ghouls n Ghosts? R-Type? Something like that, anyways...

Hmmm. never knew that about Eugene - nice fact. Always hated that level...
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the abyss
Thanks guys! Yeah, I've been using some emulators to refresh my memory for writing that post. The thing is, there are so many games, it could have easily gone on for another twenty pages... had to pick the most innovative, if not necessarily the most addictive. I also liked games like Monty Mole, Chuckie Egg (and its sequel), Tir Na Nog, the Gaelic mystic adventure game, Melbourne house.... hmmm, maybe I'll do a follow up. Also want to look at early PC games like Prince of Persia and Syndicate too.

Btw, I found someones built a javascript ZX spectrum emulator, which is amazing. I had to go and read the code to see how they did it and the guy is a genius in my estimation.


Active member
I think the sound of the tape loading opened my ears and later in life gave me a love of noise music in all its forms. And spending an hour typing in a game gleaned from the pages of a magazine, only for it to fail to run, put me off computing for life. Gotta love the Sinclair Spectrum :)


Awkward Woodward
Always loved the Speccy, though I never owned one myself (Dragon 32 and C64 for me) I was intensely envious of friends who did.

Really good stuff, bassnation; the Speccy will always hold a special place in my affections because it was the last true hotbed of not only British programming talent, but also distinctly British games. (I think it did OK in Europe, too, but it certainly never made it in Japan or the US.) I'm thinking of stuff like 3D Ant Attack, Back 2 Skool, Monty Mole, Thanatos, Hovver Bovver, and as you mentioned, the Matthew Smith, Mike Singleton and Ultimate titles. I'm not usually parochial, but it's good to play games where the jokes, references and aesthetic style chime with your other cultural reference points. (The only games these days with a real British flavour are the Fable series (and possibly GTA in terms of the shop names and puns).)

What are your thoughts on 3D Deathchase? I've only ever played it under emulation, but I loved it. I recall it was somewhat controversial when Your Sinclair named it best Speccy game ever.


"Chuckie Egg (and its sequel)"
There was a sequel to Chuckie Egg? How did I miss that? Then again, I (like Ulala) never had a Spectrum (only a BBC which was where I played Chuckie Egg) and had to rely on someone who lived across the road from me for my fix. Looking back on it I wonder if we would have been such good friends if he hadn't possessed that particular bit of technology...


Beast of Burden
My dad brought me a second hand ZX Spectrum + for £100 in 1988. It came with some games that were the only games I ever owned and so played to death for about 3 years: Bruce Lee, Saboteur, and Eureka!

Eureka! was particularly and weirdly absorbing and I never managed to complete it, which still annoys me. The only other computer game I got into was the Out Run arcade game, with the moving seat.


I definitely preferred Renegade to Target Renegade - the single room format had a purity that was lacking in the sequel and which gave each part its own identity.