Happy 30th birthday, ZX Spectrum

22:31, Apr 23 2012

It doesn't seem that long ago but yesterday, April 23, marked the 30th anniversary of the ZX Spectrum, the small rubber-keyed British computer from inventor Sir Clive Sinclair that was groundbreaking for its time and taught a generation of gamers how to program.

I think I've told you before but I've still got my ZX Spectrum - that's it there on the right. I don't actually think it goes anymore. I tried to get it working this morning but nothing happened. It's battered - it's been sitting in a cardboard box in the garage for eight years - but the keys all seem to work and I've still got the a handful of tapes for it, loaded with games: Manic Miner (Bug Byte Software), 3D Space Wars (Hewson Consultants), Summer Gams I and 2 (Epyx) and I've got some cassette tapes loaded with Ultimate Plays the Game titles, Knightlore, Underwurlde, Sabre Wulf, as well as Daley Thompson, Match Day, Beach Head and Lunar Jet Man.

Though I didn't take programming anywhere, the squidgy rubber keys were used to make super-basic programs that I was probably rightly chuffed about. And who could forget the trial and error method of loading games using a tape deck: if you didn't get the volume on the player just right you'd screw up the load and have to start all over again. But it was worth it when you finally got it right.

My Spectrum has been gathering dust all these years but I still think about it from time to time, think about the weekends spent at a friend's house playing Manic Miner or Ant Attack until the late afternoon. The ZX Spectrum was a cheap computer that put the power of computing into the hands of whoever wanted it.

As a teenager I was engulfed in the ZX Spectrum world completely, buying copies of British Spectrum specialist magazine Crash, which had phenomenal covers, and trying out the demos on the cover tape. Copying games was as easy as having two tape recorders. It was part of my gaming history that I will never forget.

If you owned a ZX Spectrum, let's reminisce together. What was your fondest memory of your beloved Spectrum? (Younger readers who know nothing of the Spectrum will probably just shake their heads at the old people.)

As tomorrow is Anzac Day, and there is no blogging staff on duty, there will be no blog tomorrow. 

Stuff you might also find interesting: Game Junkie is on Twitter and you can email him here. You can also hear him on Kiwi FM every Tuesday chatting about video games with Glenn Williams, and, if that isn't enough, he has another gaming blog here. Check it out sometime. It's updated as often as he remembers.

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