Saturday, 16 April 2011

The Crudity of Early Home Computing

When the frustration of 1K home computing became all too much to bear, I (now regrettably) sold my Sinclair ZX81 for the princely sum of £10 and upgraded to the all singing and dancing Commodore 64.

Most of my friends however went for the lower spec'd SInclair ZX Spectrum. Although the C64 had far superior sound and a fancy way of overlapping sprites without all that colour clashing you got on the spectrum, I never really mastered the art of programming the bloody thing. All those tedious PEEKS and POKES of memory addresses was a whole bunch of no fun, and time that could be better spent waiting for a program to actually load from cassette.

The Spectrum however, with its keyboard, seemingly made from dead flesh, was a much easier piece of kit for me to get my head around.

Perhaps it was because the Spectrum's had its BASIC syntax written out before you on the actual keyboard. Sir Clive even had the wit to add a special shift key to allow the user to apply the relevant operands to extend the usage of the key commands. This made it fairly simply to string together a few lines whose semantics could be successfully interpreted and executed.

Although Sinclair's language constructs were certainly pioneering in their day, it all looks rather crude now.


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