back to article Computer nostalgia is 10 PRINT 'BOLLOCKS'

"The music is reversible but time is not. Turn back! Turn back! Turn back! Turn back!" A good sign that you've reached middle age - apart from making mid-1970s ELO references - is when you discover a colleague's date of birth and can remember exactly what you were doing on that day. The sign of old age is almost the same, …


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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Matthew Smith

    30 RUN

    Yep, you never owned a Spectrum.

    1. jai

      Re: 30 RUN

      i think you're missing the joke in the code...

      1. Gazareth

        Re: 30 RUN

        It appears he's not the only one!

    2. GarethJones

      Re: 30 RUN

      The only reason I can see for having line 30 is would be to auto run the program once loaded from tape.


      ...But saying that you could just start it at line 10 and save a bit of memory (it was in short supply then).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 30 RUN

        By the time I was a teenager we got our kicks by changing the win3.1 screensaver marquee to something crude, or if you had a spare couple of minutes, taking a screenshot of program manager and making that the desktop picture which hiding the program manager icon in a corner.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 30 RUN

          Nope, the 30 RUN is not needed. The programme would auto run from the first line, which if you were old enough, you'd remember a lot of software companies faked a line 0, to ensure that was the first line which ran. Anyone else remember the ZX80 ???

      2. GJenkins

        Re: 30 RUN

        Yep SAVE "BOLLOX" LINE 10 would be how I normally have got the program to auto run. Was handy for when you had to load a SCREEN$ and several blocks of code. I often used it to load a Turbo code to make the rest of the program load up faster with funky colour effects in the border

  3. John H Woods Silver badge

    ok ...

    "I bought an Apple iPad 3 last weekend. I now invite trolls to abuse me below. Lord knows, I deserve it."

    Writing bollocks like this gives you that kind of disposable income? Where can I sign up?

  4. Thomas 4

    Invitation accepted!

    So having successfully thrown away the rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia, you now spend your days looking through the rose tinited touchscreen of an iPad 3.

  5. EddieD

    Ah, the memories of XL1

    I got the computer code running on a mate's spectrum, and sync'ed it with XL1 -marvellous - the tape ran a little faster than the code, so we had to pause between tracks, but still, it was to us at the time, awesome.

    To this day, I'm doing similar things, albeit now at tad higher resolution, colour depth and frame rate, but it doesn't quite have the same thrill as coaxing a little spectrum to work.

    Shame the cassette is now dying, and sits in its wee box...I did manage to sample it, along with the dubmixes on the B side - they were stonking - and can enjoy the magnificence to this day. Which is a really good idea...time for a stroll round Arthurs Seat, accompanied by Mr S - cheers for the memories.

    1. Audrey S. Thackeray

      Re: Ah, the memories of XL1

      I'd never heard of this and now covet it.

      I've typed programs in from handwritten notes, recorded them from the radio but never tried to extract them from vinyl.

  6. a cynic writes...

    I'm not sure if it counts as nostalgia...

    ...but I clearly remember

    poke 144,36

    disables the keyboard on a Commodore PET.

    1. n4blue

      Re: I'm not sure if it counts as nostalgia...

      IIRC there was an address on the Spectrum you could poke with a value that would offset the pointer to the start of the character set data in ROM, which made all text unreadable.

  7. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Those aren't banned words

    That whiteboard is the source of every tabloid headline (and probably article, too) over the past 10 years.

    Since it's got "boffins" on it, maybe it includes all El Reg headlines, too?

    1. moonface

      Re: Those aren't banned words

      gorgeous, stunning, leggy, busty, teen, offered up, huge, massive, red-faced, slammed,impact.

      Shame the newspaper CHIEFS banned them, as they convey such positive connotations.

  8. jai

    30 RUN

    hahhaahaha that's genius!

    1. Andus McCoatover

      Re: 30 RUN

      (I think that's metres per second....)

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Simpler times

    I can get nostalgic for the era because it was less corporate and more about people pushing the envelope. At a time where offices were still full of typewriters, the computers of the era empowered people.

    Certain companies and individuals made computers affordable. Sinclair put out computers that most people could afford. Amstrad came along and started producing PC's at under half the price of the equivalent IBM and captured 40% of the European IBM PC Comapable market in months.

    These innovations drove prices down across the board. Computers went from expensive business told and playthings of the rich to stuff you or I could afford.

  10. mark 63 Silver badge


    "All I had to do was put a cassette recorder mic next to a speaker on my home hi-fi and tape the hideous screeching of this track"

    Is that how you transferred vinyl to tape in your house in 1984?

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: microphone?

      "Is that how you transferred vinyl to tape in your house in 1984?"


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: microphone?

        Why didn't you take a line out of the amp and line in on the tape machine? if you hadn't worked that one out by then how come your in It now. Is someone on the reg your cousin? ;-)

  11. cdilla


    I didn't buy a ZX81 for it to be educational, but it was.

    I had written fortran programs as part of a physics degree course but never something that would show some real time visual output. With the ZX81 and subsequent 8-bit micros I thoroughly enjoyed creating demos, games and other rpograms. Along the way I learned z80A, 6502 and 6809 assembly and machine code, something that eventually allowed me to break from my mainframe cobol career into a PC C++ career.

    My kids are Nintendo generation and they just don't have the same kind of entry point I did into programming.

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Anonymous Coward 15


    Your headline is wrong. You need double quotes for that.

  14. Tom Chiverton 1 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Never mind that, where did you get the pass holder ?

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      I'm not certain where she bought it from but they appear to be on sale here:

      and here:

    2. Rob Beard
      Thumb Up

      They sell them at


      I'd be tempted to get the Metro City Subway Pass one being a Final Fight fan although knowing my luck I'd end up in the ring with some big bloke called Sodom :-o


  15. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    The cure to nostalgia!

    What you will need its the following items:

    1. 10 mins to spare

    2. A ZX spectrum emulator plus some games

    3. A state of the art PC capable of running 5 simultaneous copies of crysis in VMs

    4. One of your offspring and your wife present

    5. A flask of weak lemon drink.

    Proceed as follows:

    Invite family members to partake in your nostalgia-fest. Start up ZX spectrum emulator on your superb high def 36" monitor, blow up the emulator image to full screen. Start playing something silly like Sabre Wulf, bang on about how great games were back int he early 80's. Family will start to berate you like never before, your kids who once believed in their Dad will now make you feel like such an old dinosuar you will cringe at their every hurtful and barbed word. You will then start to realise very quickly that actually they're right, all your memories of old gaming masterpiece are so rose tinted as to be positively blood-red. The graphics are crap, the gameplay so basic and the subtle nuances of games like Skyrim so amazing you will awake reborn and cured!

    1. Thomas 4
      Thumb Down

      Re: The cure to nostalgia!

      That, sunshine, depends an awful lot on the game in question.

      Although graphically something like Elite is crap compared to a HD game like Skyrim, the gameplay mechanics of it are still as rock solid now as they were back then. Don't believe me? Fire up a good two player game like Ikari Warriors or Vindicators and plow through waves of baddies to the accompaniment of explosions everywhere. Or perhaps with your new found gaming leetness, you can finally finish off that game of Dizzy that you almost-finished-but-never-quite-made-it.

      Sure, not everything that came out on an Amstrad or Spectrum was gaming gold and some of them were truly awful but to dismiss everything as being unworthy of a second playthrough many years later reeks of snobbery.

      Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to that game of Syndicate I'm playing on GOG.

      1. cyborg

        Re: The cure to nostalgia!

        Chess is rubbish because it is old.

        New things are better because they are shiny.

        *Yawn* - nothing changes; this has been the cultural bore's go to argument for decades and it's as facile now as it was then.

        1. The Fuzzy Wotnot

          Re: The cure to nostalgia!

          No Chess is not rubbish, Chess takes immense skill and extreme concentration. Heck, the kids board game Frustration is a stellar intellectual challenage compared to such horrendous offerings as Horace Goes Skiing and Roland on the Ropes let's not even get into the dreadful pisstake that is Advanced Lawnmower Simulator ( yes that is a genuine Spectrum game, produced in 1988, way after the masters "Ultimate: Play the Game" showed us what was possible by pushing a ZX Spectrum ), games in which you need a lobotomy to even begin to understand the reasoning behind designing them, let alone sitting down and coding, and finaly having the bloody nerve to sell them!

          My post was mostly a humorous look at the fact that ( like the author of the original article ) not everything we leave behind in the past is worthy of admiration, but beration in the extreme. Smoking was considered a great pasttime at one point, watching small furry animals get torn to shreds for fun was considered entertaining, uprooting large swathes of people from their ancestral homes was considered of great benefit to some 200 years ago! Some things are simply best left in the past. As we head on to new things some will stand the test of time, Chess being one of them, very likely that Skyrim and Horace Walks To the Shops might well be best left in the past where they belong.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The cure to nostalgia!

            Irony, motherfondler, do you speak it?

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: The cure to nostalgia!

        Absolutely. There's some gems on the 8 and 16 bits. Graphics don't matter and while not every title stands up as well as it did originally there are some great games on these formats. Head Over Heels is still untouchable and games like Jetpac have the simplicity that you now find makes best sellers on the iThing.

        If we move to the Amiga then Turrican 2 and Cannon Fodder can still hold their heads high among any modern title. Indeed Turrican 2 I'd happily load up just to listen to the music.

        And if shiny arcade like graphics are your thing then remember the PC Engine console is 8 bits and has a **better** than arcade version of Gradius.

        Looks simple but is compulsive.

    2. Lamont Cranston

      Re: The cure to nostalgia!

      This, hard. I have many a happy memory of gaming on my +3 (loading off an external tape-deck, as nothing came on disk), but running an emulator on my PC and getting my hands on as many of my old games as possible, was a depressing experience.

      Likewise, everytime I bought a "retro" games collection for the Playstation, part of me died.

      I'm not saying that there were no great games available for the old micros, but if I could go back in time and show 8 year old me something like Kongregate, well... let's just say it'd create a terrible paradox when the 8 year old jumped into the time machine, and stranded mid-30's me in the past.

      Apologies in advance if the universe starts to unravel.

  16. Gordon 10

    Shakin Stevens

    Am I the only one who was lame enough to load the spectrum game that came with one of Shakin Stevens album.

    The shame.

    Nice column improved over last weeks.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shakin Stevens

      Oh No! A Bat Bit You!

      [hangs head in shame]

    2. AndrewInIreland

      Re: Shakin Stevens

      What about the C&VG cover Thompson Twins game?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Computer nostalgia is 10 PRINT 'BOLLOCKS'

    Whereas those of us that actually had a ZX Spectrum enjoyed every minute of it.

    "Despite never having owned a Spectrum... I am beginning to suspect that my false nostalgia for this little computer... has remained a subliminal influence in my life".

    So, you're writing about nostalgia you don't have for something you never had in the first place? Was the phrase 'Cry For Help' on that board of clichés anywhere?

    1. Olafthemighty
      Thumb Up

      Re: Computer nostalgia is 10 PRINT 'BOLLOCKS'

      Indeed. I remember spending many an hour typing out a several-hundred line program from <insert name of forgotten magazine here>, only to get


      Ahhh, happy days!

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Computer nostalgia is 10 PRINT 'BOLLOCKS'

      "So, you're writing about nostalgia you don't have for something you never had in the first place?"

      Yes. This is what I was saying about nostalgia. Well done.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Woodgie

    Add a ; for fun

    At the end of line 10 and instead of it printing:





    All in a single column you'd get a screenful of:








    (at least BBC Basic did and I think the Speccy was the same)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "BBC Basic did and I think the Speccy was the same"

      It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :) It was! :)


      1. mark 63 Silver badge

        Re: "BBC Basic did and I think the Speccy was the same"

        depends if you put a semicolon after the print statement

        The bbc had some weird and wonderful graphics commands that you could make all sorts of mad shit appear with just a few lines to make random nubers and loops!

    2. Wize

      Re: Add a ; for fun

      Even more fun (and those with a handy emulator can try it too)

      When it printed too many lines, the spectrum would have the prompt "scroll?" and anything except space would let it continue.

      At that prompt press the caps shift and symbol shift (extended mode) and your prompt turns to "RUN". Press enter and get random words from the basic interpreter.

      Even more fun when poking values to 23606 and 23607. Poking 8 to 23606 would put the character set out by one. Poking 0 to 23607 points the character set to the start of the rom and turns the characters to unreadable dots.

      Can't believe I knew those addresses off the top of my head.

      1. Gareth Perch

        Re: Add a ; for fun

        The prompt became whatever the last command was (usually RUN, but GOTO 10 also appeared if that's what you used)

        Happy Days


        1. Wize

          Re: Add a ; for fun

          Ah, forgot it did that. Shame the 128's reset button make it too easy for the shop to put it back to normal.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Just Goes to Show...

    Even Nostalgia isn't what it used to be!

    1. John Riddoch

      Re: Just Goes to Show...

      Nostalgia was better in our day!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just Pete Shelley

    Other 80's pop stars that put Spectrum games on B-sides include:

    Shakin' Stevens:


    The Thomson Twins:


    Chris Sievey:


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not just Pete Shelley

      You've reminded me of Mr Sievey's commercially released game "The Biz"

      Great fun and a favourite of Little Franks.

      1. Gordon 10
        Thumb Up

        Re: Not just Pete Shelley

        Not forgetting the Frankie Goes to Hollywood game. With Hock a Logie spitting sub game if I remember rightly. Was standalone though - didnt come on a B side afaik.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Not just Pete Shelley

      Yes, but I seem to remember that Pete Shelley actually wrote his own computer program. Buzzcocks rule!

      But Alastair, recording from vinyl using a microphone in 1984. Seriously? That's far more embarrassing than your admission to buying the latest shiny shiny toy from Apple.

  21. dickiedyce

    iPad 3

    Dabbsy - wouldn't dream of berating you for buying an iPad three, no, not at all. No, your gross misdemenour lies in buying anything before version 3, hardware or software. XPress 2.1.2 anyone ;-) ?

    1. Mike Taylor

      Re: iPad 3

      oh the horror! Clear memories of installing quark 2.11, then 2.12, then 2.12a, then 2.12b on multiple screens to pacify some passive aggressive boss

      1. Jon Double Nice

        Re: iPad 3

        Any version of quark is horendous once you've made the jump to InDesign. I quite like Quark License Server though, so go figure.

  22. Xpositor

    More memories

    Many years ago, when I had a Saturday job in Dixons, I remember selling most of what is listed here:

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: More memories

      The Amstrad page is a rather patchy archive. Major best selling models missing. Don't take it as reference, just as a bit of retro fun.

  23. Xpositor


    ...and I remember having a letter printed in Crash magazine - I was so proud. For some true nostalgia remind yourselves of the covers by Oliver Frey: and Crash magazine itself:

    1. MrT
      Thumb Up

      Re: Crash!

      You too? Can't believe I'd forgotten that one - especially as I ordered it from the newsagent and had some even lowlier life-form deliver it with the papers. Must've been the covers - not nice'n'safe William Dullard specials on stuff like PCW. Just checking to see if they've scanned my contributions - shame that site hasn't scanned all of the Forum pages yet...

      There were also a rash of mags that came with cover cassettes as well, which always seemed a great idea until you remember there was a noisy pause whilst the next section loaded.

  24. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Quite simply put..

    .. thanks for the laugh :). I had a similar funding problem, and by the time I'd resolved that the Psion Organiser II was launched. I came across it at an electronics show, and I think what sold it was probably because I could tinker with it as the sales people had all gone off to lunch :).

    I bought it because it was small - you could say it was an early day laptop as it had keyboard, screen and storage, and small enough to take to work with me. The latter was critical as I was working in shifts, and the night shifts were *very* quiet..

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Quite simply put..

      I joined the Psion crowd much later with the Series 3a, then a Series 4 after I broke the 3a, then another Series 4 after I had broken the first one. My propensity to break portable devices will be covered in a future column when deemed appropriate.

  25. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    I WROTE programs for my ZX-81 and Spectrum

    You're thinking of games consoles. Couputers are for WRITING programs on.

    I did a university mathematical computing course on my Spectrum. Mind you, I had to use a tool called "Basicode" to handle data recorded from a BBC Micro. Basicode was a sort of universal BASIC where the first couple dozen lines of a program were standard system commands that needed hardware-specific implementation - like a BIOS. Actually, it was excruciating, and the Spectrum didn't get on tremendously well with it. BUT I DID IT. There also were Basicode programs broadcast on radio.

  26. cogarooni

    Couple Missing

    moving forwards - id like to find any firm that can move backwards in time, mind you there are some pretty strong candidates out there, Nokia perhaps

    fair, fairness - what everyone really means i dont care who pays for it as long as its not me !

    If it makes you feel any better, yep your an idiot for buying a 3 :-)

  27. Rampant Spaniel

    Help for those encumbered with their virginity.

    You can be interested in computers and get some serious tupping done. First you need to understand why you aren't currently. This is for a few reasons (all may not apply),

    1- You have the physique of a rolled up duvet.

    2- You have a basement complexion

    3- They aren't interested in your interests

    4- You are interested in their interests

    So you need to change these. I shall use cobol line numbering as cobol rocks!

    00001 Find a farm, a proper one with a fat old man in charge who doesn't believe in machinery. A stables is a must!

    00002 Spend a summer doing the harvest etc. 4:30am to 10pm running around pulling trailers, carrying several sacks of grain, potatoes, carrots etc up and down ladders will get you fit and tanned.

    00003 Now wangle a job in the stables. Horsie girls will frequent them. Horsie girls are naughty! This is a good thing.

    00004 Get to know a little about horses (see warning below), take an interest in them, this gives you something to talk to horsie girls about.

    00005 Wait for a cool morning, muck out the stables without your shirt on. Now you are in a position where they know you, you are comfortable speaking to them, you have a decent physique and again, they want you. You will quickly find yourself in the tack shed playing hows your father with Sally Branston-Pickle-Smythe*

    There was always some kind of weird correlation between longer surnames and loving a bit of rough! Whatever works in your favour.

    Horses are 1000lbs of teeth, muscle and hooves and about 1/4 ounce of brain. About 49% of this brain is devoted to eating, 50% to pure evil and 1% to standing up. Try not to go near them alone. I saw one of them bite the side of a girls face off for no reason, other than the voices told it to?

    Oh and you get paid for all this, which helps fund your hobby / dirty secret.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Help for those encumbered with their virginity.

      Excellent stuff, sir!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TRS-80's in high school

    I wrote a bouncing ball program on the TRS-80's back in high school.

    In assembly. In the timer interrupt.

    I had a basic program that would poke it into high mem (and adjust high mem to protect it).

    So here was the bouncing ball on the screen. People would hit BREAK, expecting it to stop - and it wouldn't.

    1. Stevie

      Re: TRS-80's in high school

      Were you also the one who wrote that thing that makes yer browser lock up so it won't load the page but can't be closed so you can get on with life?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I found a copy of the spectrum tape file for emulators on If you want to experience XL1 in all its originally intended glory, get it here:

  30. Darryl

    Alistair, I have to say I'm definitely getting a few good chuckles out of your articles. Keep them up!

    Plus, I can report that adding the semicolon to cause "BOLLOCKS" to scroll all over the screen worked on the TRS-80, even giving you a nice diagonal scrolling effect, but on the VIC-20, it just printed it in 5 or 6 vertical columns, so you didn't get the sense of movement.

  31. Lee Taylor

    XL-1 Incomplete

    Disappointed that Spotify have removed the Spectrum game from XL-1, was looking forward scaring small children with the sound of “the internet”

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: XL-1 Incomplete

      You'd probably find the audio compression such sites use would probably mess with the demodulator in the ZX Spectrum something horrid.

      I'm surprised that it'd cope with the dust and scratches that vinyl records would accumulate over time. Or maybe it only worked when the record was relatively new / well looked after.

  32. Steven Roper

    For me, the past WAS a happier time

    I do remember the past as a "happier time", because although the computers have improved far beyond my expectations of those days, people have not. I recall back in those days you could speak your mind without having to worry about "offending" someone, and people were nowhere near as precious as they are now. In an age when political correctness has replaced common sense, and fear for safety has replaced freedom, how can anyone who remembers the 70s and 80s not mourn for what we've lost?

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: For me, the past WAS a happier time

      Strikes, power cuts, cold war, IRA bombs, National Front marches, corporal punishment in schools by sadistic teachers... ah, the 70s. The headmaster at my 1970s prep school was later convicted for sexually interfering with the children. Oh, and there was Teena Charles, which was the final straw.

      1. MrT

        Re: Teena Charles...

        ... crops up a lot on those disco/party compilations, alongside more worthy stuff like "Carwash" or "Kung-fu Fighting". Like a bad memory that Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel revived with more shrill singing...

        "I love to love.... but my baby just wants to leave quickly by the nearest exit", or something like that.

  33. Anonymous Coward


    I didn't own a Spectrum. I wanted one, but in the end it came down to choice between a BBC Micro and a Spectrum and whereas with the BBC I could convince my uncle that it was educational, I'm not so sure I'd have had the same joy with a Spectrum.

    In those days there was lots of tripe available but some of the Game Legends still standout.

    Elite - Unrivalled really on the Beeb - Spectrum and C64 versions were inferior (about the only game you can say this for!) - I have no idea how many hours of my youth I spent on this, but it must run into the hundreds. Graphics may have been pants, but for months I was in a galaxy far, far away (numbering 1-7).

    Mr. EE, Repton 3, Chuckie Egg are the main other games I remember.

    And a couple of text-only adventures that I spent weeks on... I doubt many would get the concept nowadays.

    Today's games have oodles better graphics and sound and yesterday's offerings don't compare, but that's irrelevant. A top of the range HiFi in the 80's is still inferior to an average one today, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't the dog's bollocks back in its day.

    As a kid I was used to using my imagination to supplement the available entertainment, and my expectations were lower. I mean I'd spend hours typing in crap games from magazines, just to see what they did! Today everything is handed to you on a plate - are we missing something in this?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I had both the ZX80 and ZX81 and they were not bad but the age and the price they were ok. they lowered the barrier of entry to computing and gave a lot of people a good grounding in Code. Sir Clive did more for the UK economy then probably any one else in the 80s.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You are missing the point

    Prior to the ZX81/Spectrum/Vic20/Commodore64 there were no affordable home computers. Crummy games consoles existed, but nothing which allowed you to engage with computing. Their basic nature meant that in order for them to DO something, you had to LEARN something. It required some effort and patience, but you could learn basic coding, read magazines about how to do stuff, build electronics and bolt them on and code them to do stuff, learn logic and machine code, & play games for about £100.

    Yes, they had limitations - low res graphics, limited memory, slow IO devices, crap keyboards - these things we not 'bad' per se, since they required you to work around them and be more creative.

    It is the absence of such challenges to kids who grow up with Win7, Playstations and Smart Phones it makes them detached and lazy when it comes to IT engagement, - where are the opportunities for building, troubleshooting, programming, inventing?

    I'm not saying new tech is bad - it isn't - I love my Blackberry & the quality of Modern Warfare games, I prefer the user experience of Win7 and the cool products which allow virtualisation and access to 'cloud' computing via the internet.

    Yet a part of me misses the effort required to engage with it - and without a challenge, therein lies fewer opportunities for development and engagement.

    The past wasn't better - it just required more effort - and in the process, we learnt something useful for the rest of our IT lives.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Was i the only one to remember

    "fire on high" by ELO?

    1. Magnus_Pym

      Re: Was i the only one to remember

      Is that the one with 'The music is reversible. Turn back, turn back'. recorded in reverse at the end? Try doing that with an iPod

  37. groMMitt

    Computer nostalgia is...

    'Thorin sits down and sings about gold'


  38. SDoradus

    ZX revised simplex

    The ZX81 which I bought while at engineering school was good for two things.

    First, with the 16k RAM pack and some use of assembly code I was able to implement the Revised Simplex Method for Linear Programming, which allowed me to solve some assignment problems and check others (including determining Chebyshev coefficients for minimax fits to a graph, which is more resistant to outliers than Gaussian fits).

    Second, the memory port was, with some soldering, essentially a direct interface to the Zilog Z80 at the heart of the machine, making an excellent control module for experiments.

    So the things were far from useless.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    THAT'S what 'in happier times' means! You'll never guess what _I_ thought it meant. Honestly, I feel such a dildo!

  40. Sordid Details

    Thank you, thank you. I'm here all week.

    Not if you keep making jokes like that, you won't be. ;o)

    Get yourself a pair of these to go with that card wallet...

  41. tanj666

    Baggage Handler to computer journalist ...

    So from doing something useful to a chance to rant about stuff you nothing about eh?

    Amazing how you profess such deep meaningful feelings and extensive knowledge about things you never actually owned?

    The old ZX81 had a mere 768 bytes of useable memory and yet was fully programmable with that. We learned to write very lean code in that small a space. Something modern bloatware could learn from.

    I've always felt that to be allowed to express an opinion in such a public forum as this, a person really should have studied the subject rather than just ranting into the ether.

  42. John 62

    bottom left screenshot

    of the XL-1 program looks pretty cool. reminds me of the demo scene and the Winamp visualiser scene

  43. Vance P. Frickey

    The Sinclair was better than waiting till I could afford a TRS-80 or an Apple...

    And the Trash-80, which sold for $400 base, was also a cassette storage machine unless you could pony up the cash for a floppy drive and TRSDOS. And an Apple system would have set you back $600.

    Since I was, at the time, a security guard with a family, we had better uses for that sort of money. So I got the local equivalent of a Sinclair ZX-81, a Timex-Sinclair 1000, which taught me how to program well enough that I passed FORTRAN programming in college with an "A" that year. And I learned how to state what I wanted clearly - because computers won't "do what i mean."

    I transitioned to electronics technician shortly after getting my Sinclair, and was able to use the oscilloscope at work to align the head azimuth on my dara cassette recorder - after which the problems getting programs to load on my Sinclair went away..

    So nostalgia is true in my case. I still own my Sinclair and both of the Sinclair TS1500s (basically a ZX81 with 16k internal RAM and a Speccy case and keyboard) which I got my sons, and a case with 30-odd titles of software, not a few of which I wrote.

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