Happy 25th Birthday ZX Spectrum

I’d known he’d been ill for some time, but sad to hear the news. I really owe a large part of my childhood to this man’s personal computers. I’m getting my hands on a Spectrum Next at some point, the legacy lives on!

My first gaming addiction, 3D Monster Maze, in 1981 on Sinclair’s ZX81 (the precursor to the ZX Spectrum). Normally equipped with a massive 1 kb of RAM, you had to install a gigantic 16 kb RAM pack onto the motherboard’s edge connector** to play this titan of gaming. Still scarier than Dead Space.

(this is an emulator, the original ran at about 3 fps [no I’m not exaggerating] but also didn’t have that graphical corruption)

** resulting in the infamous “RAM pack wobble” where if you pressed on the keyboard too hard (very easy, as it was a flat membrane) the entire computer crashed. Happy memories.

Sir Clive infamously disliked that his computers were being mainly used for games. He saw them as tools, useful for home banking, education, creativity etc. But I doubt he can begrudge their success as a result. And besides, we ended up doing all that stuff as well. I’m sure I remember someone at school handing in an essay they’d printed out with a ZX Printer, which was… well, it was a thermal printer about as wide as your standard store receipt. If you left your print-out too near the window, it would turn black.

I LOVED 3D Monster maze, and like you remember the dreaded RAM pack wobble. Press a teensy bit too hard on the keyboard and there was this split second “uh-oh” detectable change on the screen overscan area before “crash!”

Those were the days.

The Next is amazing. I have one and have had a programming renaissance. You are in for a treat! You can have the old 48k machine, or flip a switch and have a next gen spectrum with hardware sprites and scrolling and 256 colours per pixel. It is tons of fun to program on - yes, even in BASIC!

Looking forward to getting it. I backed the second KS revision, the main issue at the moment is supply delays of certain parts due to COVID. It’s probably going to be 2022 before I get it. But I’ve waited this long, another half year or so is fine.

I made several games in BASIC back then, even started to learn z80 assembler - nothing flash, just display routines that were much faster than BASIC at the time. Would be fun to get back into it.

I discovered the existence of something called the ZX Evo thanks to FPGA mixing.

It’s pretty interesting, although I don’t think it features the extra advancements of the Next (though I may be wrong).

Too many modern Speccies to keep up :0

Today I learned there are Spectrum games on Steam.

Indeed. I remember loving this one back in the day! Forgot all about it until now. I might just get the original file and load it on my ZX Spectrum Next.

I remember Penetrator had fire and thrust on the same key. Pretty awkward! Funny the things you remember :)