Category Archives: Retro

Computers I miss (and why I miss them) (Part 1)

I’ve owned and used a hell of a lot of computers over the last thirty years. Some were rubbish, some were great, and some were just bafflingly useless.

At some point in the ownership of most of them I’ve hit a “sweet spot” and found something that I’ve not managed to do before or since. Here is a list, in rough chronological order.


Commodore VIC=20

The first colour desktop computer, apparently.

The Shat!
The Shat!

I got this for Christmas in 1982. It was awesome. I learned to program in BASIC on it, and later 6502 machine code. I built a hardware interface to control relays for it. I hacked games on it. I wrote games on it. The first game I ever wrote was a version of Snake for the VIC.

As late as 2000 I was still using the thing, and even wrote a WAP client for it. Sadly, shortly afterwards, it became seriously damaged while moving house and had to be scrapped.

Why I miss it: It was the machine the set me on the road to the future…

Sinclair ZX Spectrum+

Just like a Spectrum, but with a slightly less crap keyboard.

The Spec!
The Spec!

My second computer. A Christmas present in 1984. I spent a lot of time with this one, mainly playing Sabre Wulf (somewhere I still have a hand drawn map of the game).

I did two of my school projects on this machine. One was a Quill based adventure game for my Computer Studies course (parts of which I’ve re-used in various games), the other was a motor/hydraulic control system for which I eventually built my own interface board (parts of which lived on).

Why I miss it: The ease of the I/O interfacing using port 32 (the port used by the Kempston Joystick), Sabre Wulf.

Amstrad CPC 6128

Possibly the best thing Amstrad ever made.

The Sugar
The Sugar

Acquired in ’86 as a Christmas present. This was the first computer that I owned that actually made me money. Not a lot, but some. I wrote a game called Star Bores using the Professional Adventure Writer. It made beer money. (cut to 2013 – I’m still working of a Java implementation of the PAW interpreter).

I sold the thing in 1991 for £50.  I needed a PC.

Why I miss it: Gryzor, CP/M, PAW.

To be continued…