23 April 2012

Happy Birthday... ZX Spectrum!

It's not often I get all nostalgic, but today is the 30th birthday of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

For those among us who have Smartphones carrying enough oomph to control a moon landing, the ZX Spectrum was the first affordable, family-friendly computer system available in the UK. It was about the size of a paperback book and had rubber keys. We didn't buy the first but got the second edition in all its glory - with 48kb memory no less. Yes, that is no mistype.

However, computer system as a description could be viewed as a bit rich. It was, basically, the keyboard. To make the thing work you needed a television as a monitor and a tapedeck, that's audio tapedeck, so as to upload the games. And word processing software.

Yes, we might have been purchasing it as a Christmas gift for our primary age son, but as soon as I saw it in action I knew I could write a novel on it, rubber keys and all. And I did. Hostage of the Heart took its first tentative steps via the ZX Spectrum.

Games? The one I truly remember was Harrier Attack where you had to get a Sea Harrier off the deck of an aircraft carrier, take it on bombing mission, under fire, to an island and get back safely before the plane's fuel ran out. We won't go into how many times I totalled the aircraft on the carrier's conning tower as I lifted off. Let's just say it was easier to write novels.

Ah, happy days...


  1. ZX Spectrum, eh? My first was a BBC model B, with its 64k memory that included a built in dictionary, word-processor and facilities to build your own custom dictionary. I bought the extra processing unit, which took it to 128k and, with a dot matrix printer, started to write and send out stories on it. Basic, but it did the job.

  2. They might have been slower, these old machines, but I'm sure they didn't cause as many problems. No internet connection, of course.