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Happy Birthday ZX Spectrum

April 24th, 2012 by bash Comments

For many people, including myself, the ZX Spectrum defines our childhood – and this week marks its 30th birthday.

Who remembers writing simple programmes on their 48k or waiting 15 minutes for a video game to load with its familiar whooping and beeping?

While this little machine, brought into the world by Sir Clive Sinclair, went on to becomes Britain’s best selling consumer computer, today it has become a 1980s icon.

This week the BBC brought together two men who helped create this wonderful machine – original ZX Spectrum engineer, Richard Altwasser, and its industrial designer Rick Dickinson.

Here is a little snippet from an interview they did with the BBC with a link to the full trabnscript afterwards.


The (ZX Spectrum) success was also driven by videogame sales – the machines were originally marketed as an educational tool but you ensured titles were ready at launch.

Altwasser: Whilst as engineers we were hoping that people would turn on the computer and find out within a few minutes they could write a simple program and become programmers, clearly a lot of people wanted to use the computer for playing games.

Different key combinations were needed to write each Basic command

By providing them with computer programs that they could either read from a little book and type in or load from a cassette, I think that we bridged the gap between those that wanted to learn a little bit about programming – perhaps starting with someone else’s programs and making modifications – and those that wanted to primarily just have a usable game.

Dickinson: In the earlier days there was a mild disappointment that we were launching computers and not games machines but I think the games market eventually turned our machines into games products.

Once the company accepted that, Sir Clive (Sinclair) realised that it was the clear route to one’s bread and butter. There were a lot of companies set up writing games for the Spectrum and we also approached companies and writers specifically to make our own in-house games.

For the rest of the interview follow this link:

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Hi all. I'm Bash and love anything and everything to do with Star Wars. Although I've watched hundreds of movies, read dozens of books and played numerous computer games from other genres and franchises since, nothing has come close to seeing George Lucas' epic for the very first time. I hope you all like the site and come back often.