Discovering Sinclair computing

Discussion in 'Video Games and Technology' started by Streck, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. Streck

    Streck <B><FONT COLOR="#FF0000">QED</B></FONT> Veteran

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    The British folks here ought to appreciate this one.

    Around '94 or so, my dad gave me one of these. No idea where the hell he got it, especially in eastern Iowa. It didn't come with a power supply, and at the time, Taco Bell was usually the first thing I felt like blowing my few spare dollars on. So it sat in a closet, unused, for several years.

    It stowed away with me to Kansas City, where it pouted in a box for a few more years. Then, a little while ago, I picked up an Atari VCS (an adventure in itself) and blabbed about it to the darkest, nerdiest corners of the Internet, where someone happened to mention that the Atari's power supply would work for early Sinclairs too: same voltage, same polarity, sufficient amperage. The ZX80 had long slipped from my mind, so I'd never made the connection.

    He was right! Today, I finally brought this 31-year-old icon of British computing to life:

    [​IMG]

    Not as iconic as the ZX81 or Spectrum, I guess, but it apparently paved the way for them. Reading up on it has been almost as much fun as using it:

    (That blows me away. I associate such a thing with modern IDEs, not firmware that's older than I am.)

    :lol  Fortunately I have the 16k expansion module. I've spent the last hour or so learning to program this thing, and those little one-touch BASIC commands are marvelous. The overall limitations are grating, though - next to this, my 64k Apple II feels like a damn powerhouse. I've no intention of spending money on Sinclair tapes, but perhaps I can find .WAV files of them and send them in through my iPod. Nerd nerd nerd geek nerd geekanerd okay I'm done.

    Oh hey, how you doing 2005.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2011
  2. McBradders

    McBradders James Franco Club! Moderator

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    Y'all should invest in a Spectrum, man.

    48k of pure, unadulterated POWER. You man enough for that?
     
  3. Streck

    Streck <B><FONT COLOR="#FF0000">QED</B></FONT> Veteran

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    Can I have one with a real keyboard, and not those rubber chiclets?

    The Star Trekkishness of this silly membrane keyboard wore off after the first 15 minutes, but not having to type out full BASIC terms is still awesome.
     
  4. McBradders

    McBradders James Franco Club! Moderator

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    You can indeed. My stepdad switched out the rubber nonsense for a DKTronics real keyboard. I believe it was universal because the keys came blank and you had to apply the stickers to them according to what computer you were sticking inside it.

    Crazy.

    My joystick interface was DKTronics too. Odd.

    I remember copying a BASIC bowling game out of a magazine one day, took all afternoon to type in and was rubbish. Probably why I decided against becoming a computer programmer, actually :lol 
     
  5. Streck

    Streck <B><FONT COLOR="#FF0000">QED</B></FONT> Veteran

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    Yeah, I expect that's what I'll be doing after I get tired of writing my own asinine crap. Reeeeally don't want to deal with tapes again though. The Apple was quite enough of that.

    And thank god for this 16k expansion. What could you even do with a single kilobyte? Game-wise, I guess you could fit a (bad) chess program in there, checkers, Othello, card games. Yeesh.
     
  6. Draven

    Draven Banned

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    Very cool stuff, man.
    It always amazes me what programmers could do with so little RAM. Elite fitted in 32K on the BBC B; so did Exile, and that even featured basic physics simulation. Mindblowing when you think about it.
     
  7. Streck

    Streck <B><FONT COLOR="#FF0000">QED</B></FONT> Veteran

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    I guess mobile devices are one of the few areas left where that particular kind of programming skill is still highly valued.

    And speaking of BBC machines, I recently happened across this photo of a BBC Master. It looks... stately, right down to the logo and the font used below the LEDs.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2011

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