Saturday, September 18, 2021

RIP Clive Sinclair

Sliding doors, naturally, but it feels like the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 16k I got as a combined birthday and Christmas present when I was a boy was significant in where I've ended up.

I recall with fondness the tedium-expectation opposition of typing in BASIC programs from printouts and then debugging them only to find that the monster was a letter M, and you were an asterisk and collision detection was a concept the author had only a passing grasp of.

I have nightmares about trying and failing to install several sets of RAM chips to upgrade the machine to 48k and instead ending up with a wobbly and unreliable external RAM pack. I mourn the times we had to take the whole computer back to the shop for repairs.

I regret spending my hard-earned paper round money on a Brother printer and then spending my hard-won free time trying to work out how to get it to print reliably, or at all. 

I can still feel the covers of the thick ring-bound manuals, introducing me to BASIC and helping me to write my own programs. It was magical when I realised there was an assembly language world beyond BASIC and that I could PEEK and POKE values directly into the heart of the computer!

Of course I read the monthly magazines religiously, and I played the games, played the games, played the games, ...

In retrospect, that was an amazing introduction to the pleasures and frustrations of computers and software, to the possibilities and the failures, to the often stark differences between desire and reality. It spurred my imagination and helped me to dream.

Thank you Clive Sinclair.
Image: Wikipedia

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