The 80s in 8-bits: The Home Computer Revolution
It all started in 1982 when I was 10 or 11 years old. Home computers were starting to make their way out of hobbiests' garages and into family living rooms. One day after school I saw a tiny, black wedge-shaped computer on a shelf in a computer store displaying a tiny white "K" on a connected TV screen. I remember prodding at the keyboard and seeing words and characters appear on the screen without really knowing what was happening. At some point a staff member brought out the manual, and I started typing in some of the example programs. Before long I was writing my own programs that he shop would use to demonstrate the computer.
The computer was the Sinclair ZX81 and the manual was the excellent ZX81 BASIC Programming by Steve Vickers.
Over the following years I owned a series of ZX81, Spectrum and Amiga computers, but by the time the 90s rolled around I had given up on these aging home computers and exclusively used DOS on IBM PC compatables. Sometime in the mid-90s I started to develop a sentimental urge to acquire a working ZX81 again. I had a vision of playing Mazogs, once my favourite ZX81 game, on the real thing again. Soon I saw a ZX81 advertised on a usenet newsgroup. I got in touch wth the advertiser and soon took delivery of a second hand ZX81 in what appeared to be pretty good condition. I hooked it up to the TV, plugged in the power and was greeted by the familiar "K" prompt I remembered so well. Sadly it transpired that the machine would crash when I pressed any of the keys on the keyboard. I had to keep looking.
It took quite a while before I was able to finally fulfil my dream of playing Mazogs on the original plastic keyboard. I kept looking, and kept finding computers that I remembered fondly, or had seen advertised in magazines when I was young. Many of these found their way into my home office, and before I was quite aware of it I had become one of those chaps who collect things.
This site is my attempt to document some of these machines and the memories that go with them. I hope that others will find these machines, the soaftware and the stories as exciting and memorable as I do.