Tuesday, 25 October 2016

A Personal Computer History (2) : Mighty Micros

So we've been playing some games (mostly Pong derivatives), its time for a real computer. Time to begin coding and harness the raw power of the microprocessor.

So in 1980 my Dad bought a Sinclair ZX-80. Compared to computers nowadays it's specifications seem rather primitive: a Z80 CPU running at 3.5 MHz, 1 KB of RAM and programs had to be loaded and saved to cassette tape. (In comparison i'm writing this blogpost on an ageing Macbook with a 2.5 GHz CPU and 4 GB of RAM so things have moved on a bit in the last few years.)

The ZX-80 was fun, though typing in programs could be a bit of a chore with the membrane keyboard and the somewhat unwieldy way to edit text. I did type in all of the Cheese Nibbler program however which was in the book shown below. Quite a basic little game, just a load of PRINT statements really but enjoyable.

Little did i know back then (i was still at primary school of course) that i would spent my university and working career working with computers, writing programs in Pascal, Visual BASIC and finally Perl and later web sites and e-learning hacking CSS and Javascript to extend Captivate.

Anyway after the ZX-80 we progressed to a Commodore VIC-20 which had colour output and cartridges for loading games and other software. To be honest i mostly used it to play games. After that a BBC Micro Model B which we eventually obtained a printer and a floppy disc drive (5.25" of course) for. This was a more serious computer and i did write some basic BASIC programs on it... and play some games. But it all started with the little ZX-80, which i still have and in theory it still works...