Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 11:01 UTC, submitted by MOS6510
Hardware, Embedded Systems "The ZX Spectrum is 30 years old. The successor to Sir Clive Sinclair's ZX81 - at the time the world's best selling consumer computer - it introduced colour 'high resolution' graphics and sound. It also offered an extended version of Sinclair Basic, a computer language with which hundreds of thousands of users were already familiar."
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my first computer
by REM2000 on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 12:04 UTC
REM2000
Member since:
2006-07-25

my first computer was a ZX Spectrum 48K and i loved it, the colours, the games and of course the introduction to programming. A really wonderful experience, i love modern technology however really appreciate growing up during the ZX spectrum days as the computers were so raw and open with a great attitude of "theres the computer do what you can with it" computers today seem a little more of a sealed unit and not to be changed, with the exception of the fresh modern takes like Rasberry Pi.

I loved the rubber keys and playing games like tapper and daley thompsons decathlon it was incredible.

It's a shame that in the UK the Sinclair C5 overshadowed Clive's earlier great products (yes i know the C5 was ahead of it's time but it sustained a mockery that has never been lived down).

Fingers crossed more british designers and engineers come forward and try and balance out the US bias on technology and hopefully start pushing the UK next generation and indeed many other countries generations to think i don't need a computer from the states i can build my own.

Reply Score: 6

RE: my first computer
by zima on Sat 28th Apr 2012 15:36 UTC in reply to "my first computer"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

the colours

Personally I actually didn't like colours of 8bit computers all that much, in the end. I had a C64, usually hooked up to a small B&W TV - but, for large part of the day, I could just as well use a bigger colour TV.
The thing is... experiencing the difference, so often, somehow pushed me to the conclusion that 16 shades of gray looked kinda more refined, more aesthetic than the palette of only 16 colours.
(but maybe it was partly also a rationalisation for not bothering to move the computer & learning to live with that small Soviet b&w TV)

however really appreciate growing up during the ZX spectrum days as the computers were so raw and open with a great attitude of "theres the computer do what you can with it" computers today seem a little more of a sealed unit and not to be changed, with the exception of the fresh modern takes like Rasberry Pi.

Maybe also they weren't so fragile, no need to be careful with configuration or the web (this one is broader than ~security, also an easy distraction, like OSNews :/ - 8bit times had fewer of those).
Well, they WERE fragile, but in different ways - a reset restored clean state for example; that might ease tinkering, I suppose.

Though OTOH, in practice they were also sort of closed, in a way: how you were expected to be careful with quite expensive toy, and particularly how in many places it was very hard to kickstart other activities than gaming (a problem I described in the last big section of http://www.osnews.com/permalink?497874 ...which, I guess, was much less severe in the UK).
The web helps with that, and I suspect the times are very much better after all.

Because generally, most people just weren't and aren't interested in tinkering (but now the computers are much more useful to the general public, which makes tinkerers less visible - even though, I think, the number of tinkerers is bigger now). And we probably remember the effects of 80s micros through rose-coloured glasses.
I don't think it's about lack of availability, kits similar to R-Pi, in one form or another, were around for those interested. R-Pi won't do magic.

I loved the rubber keys

WHAT?! (I'm trying to ~say the following sentence with as British accent as I can) ARE YOU MAD?! ;)
For many people, that was the one major unfortunate thing with Speccy... why oh why it had rubber keyboard?

BTW, Jupiter Ace is a curious relative: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter_Ace - but NVM also rubber keys, this one even had yoghurt case ...seriously, WTH the British were thinking in those days?! ;)

Fingers crossed more british designers and engineers come forward and try and balance out the US bias on technology and hopefully start pushing the UK next generation and indeed many other countries generations to think i don't need a computer from the states i can build my own.

Well you still have ARM... Plus there are benefits of standarisation.

And you know, maybe PCs aren't really that much "more US" relatively to the old days... there's typically the CPU and its supporting chipset (including GFX) but that was also the case in the times of ZX Spectrum (and its CPU). Design teams are still distributed throughout the globe (from memory, I know of Intel Israel and, IIRC, that R-Pi SoC is UK-designed; can we still count AMD chipsets and GFX as Canadian?). Though we mostly lost SiS or VIA... (and CPUs of the latter are US ex-Cyrix, anyway)

But have no fear, non-US is happening - at the least if you don't mind China, that is ;) (who have ambitions to be independent technologically - and with their sheer size it will spill over)

Reply Score: 2

good videos
by FunkyELF on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 12:06 UTC
FunkyELF
Member since:
2006-07-26

Didn't know what this was until a couple of weeks ago. I saw some nerdy news blurb about a ZX Spectrum emulator being found in Nintendo 64's 007 Goldeneye game. I went to youtube and watched this pretty good review...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqnIa4rXK_c

Then I watched a 5 part series about Rare.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wlpsvG1jJ0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZqMTj1t-Ng
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQ-FKshLimQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghFPZWIywHc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkuwOOA5h5A

Reply Score: 4

R Tape Loading Error, 0:1
by Sparrowhawk on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 12:37 UTC
Sparrowhawk
Member since:
2005-07-11

The first computer I used was a BBC Micro Model A. But the first I owned was a 16K ZX Spectrum. Oh the excitement when opening the box that Christmas....

Manic Miner, Stonkers, Lords of Midnight, Elite, The Hobbit... sigh.

I still have the Speccy + loads of other 8 bit micros. I am currently trying to teach my 8 year old daughter the joys of BBC Basic ;)

Reply Score: 4

Speccy Emulation
by Dave_K on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 13:50 UTC
Dave_K
Member since:
2005-11-16

As a smug BBC user back in the 80s I was dismissive of the Spectrum's rubber keyboard and lower resolution. To me the Speccy was a glorified toy while the Beeb was a real computer. Of course that was a bit unfair in hindsight.

I learned to love the Speccy through emulation a decade later. I went through college with a Psion 5 palmtop and the Spectrum was the one computer it could emulate perfectly with its 18Mhz ARM CPU. The Speccy's simple graphics were actually an advantage on the Psion's little low contrast greyscale screen.

What really shined through was the quality of so many classic Speccy games. It amazes me what programmers managed to pack into 48Kb of RAM. I don't think there were any native Psion 5 games that matched the best that the old Spectrum had to offer.

Thanks to its relative simplicity, the Spectrum is probably the most emulated 8 bit computer. Even 16 bit computers like Sinclair's own QL business computer could manage it. The hardware was cloned too, with numerous Spectrum compatible computers produced in the Eastern Bloc.

Definitely one of the most important home computers, one that's well worth commemorating.

Reply Score: 7

RE: Speccy Emulation
by Valhalla on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 19:00 UTC in reply to "Speccy Emulation"
Valhalla Member since:
2006-01-24

As a smug BBC user back in the 80s I was dismissive of the Spectrum's rubber keyboard and lower resolution.

Heh, well I was a smug C64 user thinking the Spectrum was a seriously inferior machine with nothing to offer, and then I was invited over to a buddy and got to play Knight Lore and I wasn't cocky anymore (although I could still snicker at the poor sound). Later 'Ultimate' would start porting some of their games aswell as make some exclusives for the C64 (although sadly never Knight Lore) and the ports were faithful to their Spectrum counterparts except running slightly slower iirc.

Anyway, even to this day, whenever I see an isometric game I think of the Spectrum and it's plethora of great such titles like the aforementioned Knight Lore and others such as Head over Heels, Batman, Alien 8, and many others.

Yes, the Spectrum for it's meagre hardware capacity was a great little machine which was pushed to it's full capacity by a host of really capable programmers.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Speccy Emulation
by zima on Sat 28th Apr 2012 16:22 UTC in reply to "Speccy Emulation"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

As a smug BBC user back in the 80s I was dismissive of the Spectrum's rubber keyboard and lower resolution.

I suppose somebody still smug like that wrote the "it introduced colour 'high resolution' graphics" ;) (but hey, this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/405-line_television_system was also HD once...)

Thanks to its relative simplicity, the Spectrum is probably the most emulated 8 bit computer.

Depends on what we would mean by "most emulated" I guess.
Largest number of emulators - yeah, possibly, if only because as you say easy to do (say, as first foray into emulator-writing).
But C64 was much more popular, so I suspect the practice of its emulation is more widespread.

BTW one fun host: http://www.rockbox.org/wiki/PluginZXBox ;) (too bad not on Sansa Clip , way too low res)

It amazes me what programmers managed [...] The hardware was cloned too, with numerous Spectrum compatible computers produced in the Eastern Bloc.

Low cost also certainly played a role (and, as you can see from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ZX_Spectrum_clones not strictly "Eastern Bloc" - also CIS, way into the 90s), plus I guess easy availability of locally-made Z80 clones.

Some real treasures hidden (lost to time?) there. In the late 90s I stumbled on a pack of suitable emulator + Russian demoscene productions for the ~Spectrum (Pentagon, I think), many of them (then) fairly recent.
What they managed, by then, to squeeze out of it was incredible (IIRC I was somewhat more impressed than with the late C64 demos), I can recommend hunting down such productions.

Reply Score: 2