The ZX Spectrum – 28 today!

Happy birthday to the machine that got me into the world of computing – the good old ZX Spectrum! It’s a mighty 28 years old today, which makes me feel really bloody old. For me it’s never really gone away, of course – I still have several of them kicking around the house, and I haven’t owned a computer in the last 20 years which hasn’t had an emulator and a bunch o’ games permanently installed on it. But ah, for those dim and distant days of my youth when it was all still fresh and exciting!

I first saw a Spectrum sometime in mid-1983. My pal’s dad had bought one and he invited us over to have a look. I was already hooked on arcade games by that point and one of my other friends had an Atari 2600 but this was something else! Compared to the Atari the Speccy was a revolution – graphics which looked like an arcade game (if you squinted), games on tape that you could (ahem) share with your friends, a proper(!) keyboard and programming language so that you could write your own stuff! We played Chequered Flag and Gulpman and I knew right at that moment that I HAD to have one!

Christmas took a long time to arrive that year, I can tell you. When it did, it brought with it a 16k rubber-keyed beastie for me and my brother to share. That wasn’t ideal, because at the time the 16k was already on its way out (curse that guy in Currys who spun my parents that ’16k is enough’ line). Luckily Sinclair’s quality control still wasn’t up to much at that point and it quickly burned itself out before the new year. The shop was out of 16k machines by that point so we replaced it with a smashing 48k monster and never looked back! Those first few days over Christmas were pure magic, though – the relatives had provided us with classics like Hungry Horace, Slippery Sid, 3D Painter and Gobble A Ghost (yes, really!), plus Ultimate big-hitters Jetpac and Cookie. Basically we were never off it, there’s no wonder it melted.

I can’t even begin to count how much time I must’ve spent with the Spectrum. It single-handedly kick-started my love affair with all things computing, which in turn lead to my route through academia and my eventual career. It provided hours of rainy (and sunny) day entertainment for me and my friends, and continues to do so to this very day (there were over 200 games released for the Spectrum in the last three years, according to World of Spectrum’s database, many of which are extraordinarily good – I’ll do some recommendations one day).

So hats off to Sir Clive and his little rubber beastie (steady). Happy birthday, Speccy – here’s to the next 28!


About Blerk
A pain in the arse of the video gaming industry.

5 Responses to The ZX Spectrum – 28 today!

  1. Murbal says:

    You forgot to mention Sir Fred.

  2. Whizzo says:

    My story is scarily similar to Blerk’s, a 16K Speccy for my 14th birthday in March ’84 and it sent me on the path of all things IT ever since.

  3. Fletche says:

    If it wasn’t for the Speccy I may not even be into gaming today! I’m sure Mrs Fletche wouldn’t mind that so much. I went from a 16k, through a 48k, +2, 128, and finally a +3 before the lure of the Amiga won me over, happy days indeed.

  4. Blerk says:

    I had the aforementioned 16k and 48k rubber machines. I later swapped the 48k for a Spectrum+ when too many Daley Thompson sessions (oo-er) busted the keyboard, then picked up a 128k just after they launched. That’s still my main Speccy – still working after about 23 years! A few years back I rescued a mint-condition rubber 48k that was on its way to the tip, so I’m almost back to square one. 🙂

    The kids think the rubber keyed machine is mental. And quite possibly think that I am mental too.

  5. jetsetwilly says:

    This is eerily all too familiar 😀

    I got a rubber-keyed Speccy (48K) for my birthday too. Accompanied by a *cough* cassette with Manic Miner, Zzoom, Chuckie Egg, Chequered Flag, Jetpac, Cookie, Trans-Am, Pssst and many many others.

    It started my love of gaming (with only a brief hiatus in the mid-90s, a bad time to have a hiatus from it by all accounts) and landed me in IT too. Those heady days of learning to program on it. The only output I consistently got out of it was this:

    “C-Nonsense in Basic”

    Sir Clive and your attribute-clash I salute you.

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