back to article ZX Spectrum reboot promising – steady now – 28MHz of sizzling Speccy speed now boasts improved Wi-Fi

The team behind 2017’s successful re-imagining of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum is back with another new cut of the classic British Micro. Issue 2 of the ZX Spectrum Next is a creature of Kickstarter, and improves on the first issue with wireless networking fixes. Like the first revision, you can crank up the resident Z80 …

  1. Louis Schreurs Bronze badge

    I can't wait to get my hands on it.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      I've ordered one as well, what could possibly go wrong.

      The campaign’s creators say they had bad advice about tax on their first go-around and ended up shelling out from personal funds.

      Hopefully The Event at the end of this year won't cause the same problem this time around.

      1. Mark 153

        I just finished reading Jasper Fforde's latest novel, The Constant Rabbit. So when I read "The Event" I assumed there'd suddenly be a lot of spontaneously anthropomorphised rabbits. Then I felt sad.

        Really liked those rabbits.

        1. Maximum Delfango Bronze badge
          Mushroom

          I refuse to buy or read any Jasper Fforde novels - brilliant though he is - until HE WRITES THE PROMISED GODDAM SEQUELS TO SHADES OF GREY, DAMMIT.

          I've been waiting since 2010 for this. Admittedly I've been doing other stuff, but you get the idea.

    2. Blackjack Silver badge

      Eh, can you really can do anything in this that you cannot in the 2017 model and is worth buying another device?

      I guess you could try using a BBS or something... or run one.

      Actually that sounds just like the kind of project I can see someone in the Register doing.

    3. Maximum Delfango Bronze badge
      Thumb Up

      Also ordered one...

      No idea what I'm going to do with it. Not the point.

      Love the idea, and the execution looks brilliant.

      1. Blackjack Silver badge

        Re: Also ordered one...

        So.. like the Super Nintendo mini I bought years ago and I haven't taken out the box yet?

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Well done

    With all the losers who can't deliver on their empty promises these days, it's nice to see that there still are people who can not only promise, but actually ship a functioning product that does what it says on the tin.

    And now, they're even improving on it.

    If I were to buy any retro console, it would be theirs.

    They deserve it.

  3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  4. _LC_ Silver badge
    Pint

    ZX Spectrum - best keyboard ever! (nt)

    *lol*

    1. NobbyNobbs

      Re: ZX Spectrum - best keyboard ever! (nt)

      Yep, this machine is they they have added a keyboard using mac style butterfly keys on to a notirous dead flesh keyed system and ended up with is a flipping lovley keyboard feel that is up there with decent laptop keyboards and certainly feels like it's too nice for a kickstarter.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: ZX Spectrum - best keyboard ever! (nt)

        "decent laptop keyboards"

        Isn't that an oxymoron? I suppose there can be keyboards that could be described as "decent enough for a laptop keyboard", but even the best laptop keyboards are pretty shite for serious use.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: ZX Spectrum - best keyboard ever! (nt)

      Apparently not bad when compared to modern keyboard.

  5. David 132 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Backed. My first ever kickstarter.

    This sounds awesome. Based on their track record I'm confident that it'll be delivered. So much so that I've just created a kickstarter account and backed a project for the first time in my life.

    So many happy memories of my Spectrum+ 48K (£179.99, booting it up Christmas morning 1985 and seeing what it could do) and watching Henrique's video for this project gave me a frisson of that old feeling. Fingers crossed. $425 well spent... I hope...!

    1. laughthisoff

      Re: Backed. My first ever kickstarter.

      I was on KS1, thus I have a Next. Yes, it is awesome. It really is. It's awesomer that I thought it would be. It's also way more than just a faster and better Spectrum, which is awesome in itself and is a major success (did I say it's awesome?!). As well as the improved Spectrumness (and backward compatibilty to 48k) it also runs other cores (FPGA, not emulation) like arcade boards and other retro cores like BBC Micro etc. I'm well chuffed with mine.

      (Just a punter, not affillated to or friends with anyone on the ZXN team).

      S.

  6. deanb01

    A good effort

    I decided not to back this first time around given the Vega debacle, and kicked myself afterwards. The Next is a very capable machine; not just an enhanced Spectrum that can run Spectrum software and most peripherals, but can also masquerade as other machines, such as the BBC, CPC, and even arcade boards by flashing the FPGA with an appropriate core.

    Credit to the Next team for pulling this off, despite the bad tax advice and having to top up the funds to achieve the initial launch out of their own pockets.

    Needless to say, I've back this second round, and will look forward to receiving mine next year.

    1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: A good effort

      I suppose using an FPGA would be one way of doing it. But if I were designing such a device, I'd probably make a general purpose reasonably high clock speed ARM based hardware and do the emulation in firmware rather than FPGA based hardware. Whatever way you choose to skin the cat depends of personal preference I think.

      1. defiler Silver badge

        Re: A good effort

        I'm guessing the reason you got downvoted is because that's already been done. What makes the SpecNext different is that it's not another machine pretending to be a Spectrum. As soon as the FPGA warms up it is a Spectrum. Fully hardware-compatible.

        You just want an emulator? No problem - there are plenty to choose from.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The 28mhz update was added to the orignal next a few months back. It was a case of revising the core for stability. This machine has had a load of enhancements such as other cores to download such as CP/M.

    One of the other changes was to deal with hdmi where the TV/monitor provided power feedback so unplugging the 9v psu didn't fully power down the machine. I think there are a couple of. Other tweaks too.

    1. defiler Silver badge

      I'd heard mutterings in the past year about tidying up the core further in an attempt to hit 56MHz. That could be a laugh.

      Still, I've slammed down my cash. It's a shame the price is so high for what's pretty-much-certainly a toy to most people. It seems to have prices out a lot of folks. But I can see why it's expensive.

  8. TheProf Silver badge
    Pint

    £300

    Three hundred quid? Bleedin' 'ell! That'll get you a decent 8k capable graphics card.

    I can't get my head around people wanting to play 8-bit graphics games. I can remember the disappointment of what appeared on screen as compared to the illustration on the box. 'So the red and blue blocks are supposed to be Superman, and that green square is Jimmy Olsen?'

    I think I'll give this a miss and spend £200 on a graphics card and the rest on a nice Scotch whisky.

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: £300

      I can't get my head around people wanting to play 8-bit graphics games.

      Well, fair enough. It's clearly not a product for you then. Yeah it's a lot of money for an 8-bitter, but in truth it will show most 16-bit platforms a clean pair of heels. Having played with one, it's much more like a SNES when you get the enhanced software on it, and I expect that's underplaying its capabilities too.

      It's a really nicely-specced, well-designed, well-balanced machine. No, it's not in the same league as chucking a £200 graphics card into an £800 PC, and nor is in the same league as a PS4 Pro, which is about the same cost. On the other hand, once I get mine you should pop round and have a shot. And I'll help you drink that whisky.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: £300

        "It's a really nicely-specced,"

        I saw what you did there!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £300

      I'll pit Chuckie Egg or Jet Pac on a Spectrum against any game on your PC and £200 graphics card, any day of the week. ;-)

    3. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

      Re: £300

      £300 quid will get you a decent 1440p capable GPU, anything above that is dubious without limiting yourself to 30fps or compromising on visual quality.

      I thought the same when the Next came out the first time, but I didn't look very closely.

      It isn't a modern 8 bit computer with bells on, it's a well engineered FPGA system capable of running a number of cores as they would run on the original chips, centred on the original Spectrum chipset with a number of graphical and sound enhancements, plus e.g. a viable CP/M environment.

      More importantly it's a modern supported platform with an associated community. You could emulate a speccy and write your own code to add emulated features, but the chance of building a contributing community off that is low.

      The alternative is a DE10 with I/O board and case, which won't cost an horrendous amount less than a Next, and doesn't include the same expansion facilities of the Next.

      I was tempted by the DE10, but I suspect I'm going to go with the Next instead.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: £300

        I’ll take 8 bit 80s games over any modern game any day of the week. Hit start, play. None of this preamble crap.

        I really want one of these things, but I don’t have the spare minutes to enjoy it.

    4. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: £300

      Buy an RPi Zero.

      Load Retropie (with FUSE emulator).

      Enjoy much better usage, any controller you like, modern OS conveniences, emulators up to things far more powerful than a Speccy, output filters to emulate any kind of original output, and if you're really worried, stick it in an original Spectrum case (there are even projects to interface FUSE with the original keyboard).

      I'm a massive Speccy guy. I've carried emulators around on every personal machine I've ever owned ever since Gerton Lunter's Z80 (DOS predecessor to WinZ80, which could do 3000% emulation on a lowly Pentium and 1000% speed on a 386). Just... stop faffing about with this "remake" things and emulate it.

      Hell, I added a Speccy keyboard to my cocktail arcade cabinet just to play Speccy games with the same look and feel. That whole project, including monitor, arcade joysticks, RPi, cabinet, etc. didn't cost as much as this.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: £300

        I've already done the RetroPie thing. I still want this really nice piece of hardware though. Because it just is.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £300

      Sure, if you enjoy being repeatedly shot in the face by some angry, swearing teenager - then go right ahead, knock yourself out!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Note to Author: they hit their first stretch goal within hours - all machines now come with a whopping, maxed-out 2MB RAM!!

  10. BRYN

    i've chipped in

    Ok my first home computer was a ZX spectrum back around 84, then later a +2 when it launched. I have so many found and happy memories attached to the ZX Spectrum. I am so very excited to be onboard for KS2 having missed KS1. I know its a toy and I appreciate its expensive, and I know I can play all the games I love on an emulator. But its just not the same. I know technically I am only playing via emu on the Next too. But its flicked all my emotion buttons.

    1. Michael Strorm

      Re: i've chipped in

      Unlike (e.g.) the Vega and Vega+, the Next isn't an emulator; it's a hardware reimplementation and expansion of the original design.

    2. TonyHoyle

      Re: i've chipped in

      It's not emulation.. it's a real spectrum designed by Rick Dickinson, the designer of the original Spectrum.

      You can plug spectrum hardware in there, like an interface 1, and it'll work.

      If an FPGA is defined as emulation, then the original spectrum was one too as it had a ULA at its heart (and the +2, +3 various different gate arrays). The only difference is the modern chips are programmable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: i've chipped in

        Rick Dickinson did the industrial design of the cases (both old and new); according to Wikipedia it was Richard Altwasser who designed the internal hardware of the original Spectrum.

      2. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: i've chipped in

        "If an FPGA is defined as emulation, then the original spectrum was one too as it had a ULA at its heart (and the +2, +3 various different gate arrays). The only difference is the modern chips are programmable."

        It seems to be much in the spirit that the Western Design Center can either sell you a physical 65C02 CPU in a 40-pin dip or other package style, or a Verilog model of the 65C02 core that you can incorporate into your own design. While the FPGA version is not physically the original chip, it's still running equivalent logic directly.

    3. gerdesj Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: i've chipped in

      My C-64 (a real one off of the '80s) was fixed up a few months back. It now rocks a multi GB SD Card with nearly everything ever produced for it huddling in the first few 100 Mb.

      https://www.thefuturewas8bit.com/

      It feels a bit strange running Attack of the Mutant Camels and other Jeff Minter classics on a 50" screen within seconds. It still sounds ace given what was available to work with.

  11. Just Enough

    Get an emulator

    These retro computers mystify me. Sure, they'd be fun for about an hour of nostalgia. But after that, what have you got? A £300 computer with a tiny, tiny fraction of the capabilities of your mobile phone.

    And the nostalgia is always bitter sweet. It's never as good as you seem to remember it.

    Get an emulator, run it on the computer you have.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Get an emulator

      I could imagine spending £50 on a Spectrum keyboard coupled to an emulator running on my PC. Beyond that, I wasted enough time playing Spectrum games in when it was first released (£125 for a 16K version, had to wait ages).

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Get an emulator

        There was one from Elite Systems but as it was from Elite it ended up in dispute.

        They are of course now on eBay for silly money, like the Next.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Get an emulator

          Elite's "Recreated Spectrum" wasn't even an emulator; it was little more than a jumped-up Bluetooth keyboard with some locked-down proprietary nonsense, designed for use with an emulator app on your phone or whatever.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Get an emulator

            Yes, and there are two different keyboard layouts. Game mode at first only worked with Elite's emulators but is emulated now in other Spectrum emulators, but it's still possible for a key to get jammed because the up keypress was missed by the emulator. QWERTY mode means it can be used as a normal keyboard but it can't cope with multiple keypresses, the ones the manufacturer sold directly to get their money back from Elite were pre-unlocked otherwise you had to go to Elite's website which disappeared for a while.

            It's a faff swapping back and forth and it was all a bit of unnecessary cheapness to avoid designing-in something like 6-key rollover which is possible over Bluetooth and USB.

            1. AMBxx Silver badge

              Re: Get an emulator

              Multiple key presses was an issue on the original Spectrum too (though I think there was a workaround). Each row of keys was divided into two sections (eg Q-T, Y-P) and only one key in each section could be detected at a time.

              1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                Re: Get an emulator

                But that would be for the emulator to work out, the keyboard should faithfully tell the emulator what is really being pressed and the emulator translates it into bits to be read on port 254, including the ghosting.

    2. Spoonsinger
      Childcatcher

      Re: Get an emulator

      I love being told what to do with my money.

    3. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Get an emulator

      Spectrum emulators have been pretty well polished for some time now, and some of them will even play demos which are very reliant on hardware timings. Emulating the Spectrum Next, though, is very hard work. It's not just a Spectrum, but has loads of additional features which greatly increase the emulation overhead.

      I'll admit to being a little skeptical until I actually saw the prototype and spoke to some of the people involved. It's way ahead of the Speccy and the people behind it are so enthusiastic and knowledgeable on the whole thing.

      If you want the Spectrum from the 1980s, emulate it. Sure. You'll get no argument from me.

      If you want what the Spectrum could have become, this is the puppy. And you can still program your own stuff on it (relatively) easily.

      1. juice Silver badge

        Re: Get an emulator

        > Spectrum emulators have been pretty well polished for some time now, and some of them will even play demos which are very reliant on hardware timings

        TBH, the Spectrum is probably the best understood and the most emulated hardware in the world. Partly because the design was brutally simple (albeit in a genius way), but also because this simplicity meant that millions of unofficial clones were produced in various third world and communist countries (e.g. Brazil, Russia).

        Sadly, for all that all credit is due to the guys making it, I don't really see the point or need for the Next. I mean, it's a wonderful piece of kit, and something in my brain shouts "WE NEEDS THE SHINY" every time I see a picture of that glossy wee case with the little wee Spectrum colours down the side.

        *fans self*

        But at the same time, from a technical perspective, it's a solution looking for a problem. If I want to get into video game development, I'd be just as well tinkering with pygame on a raspberry pi or somesuch.

        If I bought one, it'd just be for nostalgia's sake, and it'd just end up gathering dust after the initial oo'ing and aww'ing [*]. So as much as my credit card keeps twitching, I'm staying resolute.

        But still. SHINY.

        [*] Fun fact - I actually bought a reproduction ZX 48k case from one of the various Spectrum hardware sites and spray painted it white to match the special one which they made when they hit the 1-million mark on the Dundee production lines. It now has pride of place on one of the walls in my office :)

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Get an emulator

          To be fair, you could say that about many, many products on the market, especially Kickstarter-like projects. Just because a market is small and niche and not for you doesn't mean to say the market, however small, isn't there. The likes of Kickstarter for gauging interest and fundraising, 3D printing for rapid and cheap(er) prototyping and far-eastern short run board assemblers has made this sort of niche market possible for those who do want them.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Get an emulator

      "never as good as you remember" - Yep because you are playing on a emulator.

      Real hardware has a special feel, its buttery smooth and instant feedback when controls are pressed. These minor differences dont seem like much but that are critical. Emulators have 5/6>ms input lag (retropi especially) the Next is 1ms - doesnt sound like much but its that connected feeling that makes it a joy to play.

      But no one is forcing you to buy one :) Be happy with your emulator

  12. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    I must be missing something

    Why? But seriously, why? Are the games that good? I don't remember any of them on my mates' spectrums being all that brilliant. Even as a 15-year-old. And I had an atari video game, so the bar was fairly low.

    1. Sykowasp

      Re: I must be missing something

      A lot of people are getting them to tinker on as a hobby, rather than to play games on solely. It gains from having the nostalgia, and also in having hardware feature upgrades to make the system not actually rather poor graphically - now it's far more like a SNES or Amiga graphically - even better in some ways.

      These less capable systems have a lower barrier to entry if you want to knock up a game. I imagine it's mostly 40+ men buying this, not known for having 20 hours a week spare.

      Sure, you could go the Pico8 route instead.

  13. Daniel Bower

    When/why is any rational justification need?

    I can't afford one, have no need for one and have made enough unauthorised purchases over the years to potentially end my happily married life without buying another thing, but...

    I still want one of these. No of course it's not got much poke compared to modern machinery and the games are pretty basic but christ, I spent more time playing Jetpack than I ever have any modern games and enjoyed myself more. Do you need to justify something like this? IMO no absolutely not. It's to be bought and enjoyed just because it's a thing. And that should be celebrated :)

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: When/why is any rational justification need?

      No need to justify, I’ll never get why some people think their personal subjective preferences are more important than mine. I like these things and I can see the appeal. If you don’t get them then fine.

      I don’t get the game of golf, but I’m not going whine about it.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    looks like The Lords of Midnight in the video. I never did complete it as my old dear managed to chuck away my copy of Crash magazine (might have been march 85 edition) which had a map!

    1. Acme Tech Support

      www.crashonline.org.uk

      and

      https://worldofspectrum.org/archive/magazines/crash/85/0/1991/2/0

  15. Jason Hindle

    Awesome

    Even better if it requires a dongle, a few months down the line, to make it work properly.

  16. Lee D Silver badge

    Never touch an Issue 2 Spectrum.

    If you didn't learn this the first time round...

  17. Phil Dalbeck

    Those interested in FPGA versions of classic systems

    Should check out the MISTer project. Full hardware FPGA recreations of just about everything you can think of right up to the Amiga/ST, all the 16 bit consoles, NEOGEO and loads of arcade boards. Awesome stuff.

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Those interested in FPGA versions of classic systems

      Got a MiSTer - it's nice. A bit ugly, but runs up to Atari STe or Commodore Amiga 1200 no problem. And it's cheaper than the Spectrum Next.

      The difference is the SpecNext is a finished product, that you don't have to scour half a dozen websites to get going. you plug it in, you switch it on, and if you're a little perverted you load Thru The Wall from the Horizons tape like you did when you were 10.

      And yes you can run a Spectrum core on MiSTer, at up to 56MHz from memory, but that's the old colour-clash Speccy. The SpecNext is that and lots more.

  18. Just A Quick Comment
    Pint

    These retro computers are fun - and that's the point

    Yes, these retro computers aren't up to much compared to a good PC and a good graphics card etc, but they're fun; simple, nostalgic fun.

    Also it's nice to have a computer that doesn't need an anti-virus or some complex OS to boot it. Yes, I know the Pi is almost that, but my The C64 and the Next (oh so tempting) behave in a different, and simpler, way. If you're interested in just playing a few games, get an emulator, but for the whole physical experience a solid machine you can touch (and even "ooh" over - oh, hang on, that sounds rude and even... um, ewh!) and appreciate (like an LP compared to a download music track) knocks emulation into a cocked hat.

    Plus, for the average IT worker, £300 isn't much - it's a round of drinks, a filling up of the Porsche's tank, a weekend away for drinking and sex, or even... Well, hopefully you get my humorous point :-)

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: These retro computers are fun - and that's the point

      “The C64 and the Next”

      I read that as “The C64 and the NeXT”

      If you could flash the FPGA to emulate a NeXT, I’d be impressed - I might even put a primitive web server on it!

  19. stu 4

    Last night I loaded a tape of a programme I wrote 38 years ago, aged 12..

    Bought a tape deck last week (general wish to listen to old mix tapes I made), found tape of a program I nearly got published in 1983.

    Loaded it into emulator last night and saw my loading screen graphics for first time in 38 years! Unfortunately it's the only copy I have, and it corrupted before fully loaded, so all I can do if look at 30k of basic.... but the loading screen was awesome!

    speccy all the way!

  20. Maximum Delfango Bronze badge
    Pint

    I thought this was an article about the follow-on to the Vega+

    So, as you can imagine, I nearly choked on "The team behind 2017’s successful re-imagining of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum is back"...

  21. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Is there any actual information on the actual hardware? Such as the memory layout, how to access over the 64K limit, the screen layout and access, how to control the clock speed, additional ROMs, page 64K RAM for all-RAM code etc etc? All the links just take me to publicit videos of people playing with demo machines.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Hardware

      Um, yeah, it's all on the website....

      C.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Hardware

        Ah ha! That's what I'm looking for. It could have been linked to direct from the article.

        1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          You're welcome

          I've added a link to the main site.

          C.

          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: You're welcome

            (body)

  22. Danny 2 Silver badge

    The keyboard was key

    It had a tiny integrated rubber keyboard you could work with one hand, more akin to a tactile phone. All the other cheap '80s computers had clunky, cheap breakable keyboards. I could type twice my friends speed with half the effort.

    My first hardware upgrade was 16k to 48k, on the kitchen sink to negate static.

    I exchanged my dodgy joystick to a company three miles from me which is when I clicked this is a real industry I could aspire to join.

    I wanted a hifi. My dad insisted on a computer and wouldn't let me buy any games until I was writing my own.

    1. KorndogDev

      Re: The keyboard was key

      "It had a tiny integrated rubber keyboard you could work with one hand"

      8bit porn?

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: The keyboard was key

        No, the Spectrum was chaste. I've previously admitted here that Miss Pacman did it for me on the Atari. A much more realistic female body shape than Lara Croft.

        1. defiler Silver badge

          Re: The keyboard was key

          A much more realistic female body shape than Lara Croft.

          Can confirm. Currently playing Tomb Raider Legend on Xbox 360.

          Somewhat glad they toned her down for the reboot.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The keyboard was key

      That keyboard was good at teaching you BASIC because you could see all the commands layed out in front of you and you could experiment and find out what each one did as the editor syntax checked when hitting Enter after typing each line, not when running.

      But it was pretty terrible for typing.

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: The keyboard was key

        I loved typing on it. It was far better than the ZX80/81 stylophone keyboards, and far better than the huge clunky keyboards of other home computers. Closer to my laptop today.

        I miss my Spectrum, yet I don't even know what happened to it. My parents probably gave it away to some bratty cousin. Is that where the phrase 'on the Spectrum' originated?

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: The keyboard was key

          I think so.

          1. David Haig
            Coat

            Re: The keyboard was key

            There was an F1 game on the 48k Speccy that you used the tin from a sellotape roll as the steading wheel over (I think) fghjk keys - brilliant!

            And you got to see the other cars coming up in your wing mirrors - years ahead of other technology, the Hass team still hasn't got it working properly for Roman Grossjean

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: The keyboard was key

      Danny 2 My dad insisted on a computer and wouldn't let me buy any games until I was writing my own.

      With the benefit of hindsight, sounds like your dad did you an epic favour there. But I’m sure it didn’t seem that way at the time!

  23. Simon Harris Silver badge

    An exercise in ‘what if?’

    I think the beauty of things like this and some of the high performance 6502 upgrades I’ve seen in an Acorn Facebook group is that they answer the ‘what if?’ question.

    Back in the early 80s when consumer home computers were maxing out at a 4MHz Z80 or a 2MHz 6502, RAM was 32-48K and you had a floppy drive if you were a rich kid, I would think everybody at some point asked ‘what if my computer could run 10x faster, had loads of RAM, had instant program loading?’

    With a Z80 core in a gate array running at 28MHz or higher, or a 14MHz WDC 65C02, and memory that costs pennies per MB, to my mind being able to build physical hardware gives a more tangible answer to ‘what if?’ than a virtual machine in an emulator.

    Nothing against software emulators - they’re fun too, but I grew up in a time when a soldering iron was an acceptable PC accessory.

    1. juice Silver badge

      Re: An exercise in ‘what if?’

      > I would think everybody at some point asked ‘what if my computer could run 10x faster, had loads of RAM, had instant program loading?’

      TBH, I do occasionally wonder what would happen if someone borrowed the TARDIS and dropped off some modern programming techniques.

      E.g. compression, parity and procedural techniques, along with some of the more advanced cycle-counting tricks which were perfected towards the end of the 8-bit era.

      Then you could have a game which reliably loaded in a quarter of the time, featured maps with hundreds of screens, full parallax scrolling, multicolour sprites, yadda yadda yadda, all at a time when people were still getting to grips with writing mediocre arcade clones in BASIC, using character-based sprites and movement!

      Admittedly, it's debatable how useful this would actually be; in some ways, it'd be like handing a modern Philips screwdriver to a medieval carpenter.

      Still, I think we would have all been officially Minds Blown, if we'd been able to see just what could be squeezed out of the stock hardware...

      E.g.

      https://cronosoft.fwscart.com/BUZZSAW_-_Sinclair_ZX_Spectrum_cassette__NEW_RELEASE_/p5357732_18497926.aspx

      https://spectrumcomputing.co.uk/entry/30347/ZX-Spectrum/Pietro_Bros

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: An exercise in ‘what if?’

        TBH, I do occasionally wonder what would happen if someone borrowed the TARDIS and dropped off some modern programming techniques.

        “You’re telling me that in the future it will take 20 GIGABYTES just for an operating system? And a simple word processor will consume GIGABYTES of memory? But at least you have flying cars and a moonbase, right??”

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