My first computers

I just found from now defunct podcast DL.TV and what a great resource it is! I’ve been looking through my early computers and having fun looking at the specs.

My first computer was the Commodore Vic-20. Its release date was 1981 so I would guess that it was probably Christmas 1981 or 1982 that I got it (so I would be 10 or 11). I recall it fondly. One of my favourite games on it was a text-based adventure game whose name I cannot recall unfortunately. I also remember some maze game where a big letter M would chase you and I never ever did complete it (although I got close!) I can still remember the music. I also had Jetpack for it and remember discovering that the Spectrum version had 8 levels while the Vic-20 version had only 4. Ripped off!

My next computer was the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48. The release date for this was 1983 so I probably got it Christmas 83 or 84. I would be 12 or 13. A few of my mates had one of these before I got mine and it was way better than the Vic-20 for games. Monty Mole rocked. Of course there was Manic Miner and Lunar Jetman. Avalon and Everyone’s a Wally. Rambo. I spent many hours on this computer. It was even hackable! There was some Randomize Usr string that one could enter when Manic Miner was loaded and then access any level. There was also two lines of code that you could enter into the load screen to make some pretty spirograph-esque images load. I used to have fun doing that on the display models in Dixons. I also bought Crash magazine every month back then, a mag dedicated to Spectrum games. It was really very good. I also remember the arguments we would have with Commodore 64 owners about which was best. How we could defend a 48k computer with rubber keys over a full keyboard 64k computer is anyone’s guess, but the games did seem better on the Spectrum and that’s what it was all about at the end of the day.

My next computer was the Commodore Amiga 500+. The release date was 1991 and 1992 for the Amiga 600 so it must’ve been in 1991. I remember playing Batman on someone’s Amiga 500 when I was in the Queen Elizabeth Military Hospital in Woolwich and loving it so, when I got out of hospital, what better way to convalesce than to get an Amiga. We had many hours of fun on this computer, including mammoth sessions on Legend round at a mate’s house. That was one good game to be sure, but the constant disk-swapping was a pain. I ended up selling the computer to the mate at whose house those Legend sessions were, well, legendary.

And that was about it until I got my Windows 2000 Pentium 4 with 512MB of RDRAM from Evesham Computers back in 2000.

It’s strange actually that I didn’t end up working in the IT industry as I think I am better suited to that than to the languages industry. I used to spend hours over the summer holidays copying BASIC code from magazines into my Spectrum to make games work (sometimes they did and sometimes they didn’t). In my 1st year at uni I did a module on Information Processing, so learned Claris Works on some Mac or other (don’t recall which model exactly but it was in 1993/94), did some UNIX and even did some essays and research on the history and philosophy of computing. Slide rules anyone?

The army kind of figured out I was good at languages and so I ended up following that path, but they didn’t figure out that I’m an introvert and have a deep fear of speaking foreign languages (a big reason for our impending departure from Luxembourg). Oh well, I’m soon to be a sub-postmaster anyway so it’s bye bye Russian and French.

I actually started an Open University course in Object-Oriented Programming back in 2001 but I couldn’t keep up with the coursework and packed it in. I guess I’ll always be a computer enthusiast but never much more than that I guess. Maybe in the next life!


  1. I had a Vic 20 as well, it was awesome.  I still remember loading my games from a cassette tape drive.  That’s just too funny now!

  2. I remember the Vic 20, too. Loading programs from a cassette tape drive or hardcopying code from a magazine and then running it to play a game. Classic.