As everyone is receiving their shiny new ZX Spectrum Next computers from the successfully funded Kickstarter (that I’m kicking myself now for not backing), I’ve dug up my original copy of my ZX Spectrum BASIC Programming manual from 1983.
The ZX Spectrum was my first home computer, on which I had my first experience of programming. 37 years later, I’m a software developer still coding every day, and still fascinated with software development.
Although flipping through the manual itself is a historical treasure trove, there are a couple of pages which are possibly my first snippets of source code:
I’ve no idea what this was that I was working on (a question and answer game of some kind?), but it’s weird looking back at what was quite possibly some of the first code I wrote, 37 years ago.
Other hand written notes that are interesting, it looks like I was keeping a wanted list of games:
I don’t remember getting a joystick interface until much later, but I was keeping notes on available interfaces at the time. 16GBP for a Kempston joystick interface? Wow!
Plus some notes for a few games, Lords of Midnight, and some other games that I can’t remember playing:
Waiting now for the promised next production run of Nexts, and this time round I definitely plan to get one!
I’ve seen posts about the BASIC 10Liner contest before, but this time I spotted posts for the 2017 contest with time to put an entry together. This weekend I spent a few hours putting together an entry using Sinclair BASIC on an emulated Spectrum, using Fuse for MacOS.
My entry is a take on the infinite runner style games, like Temple Run, but re-imagined in glorious 8 bit Sinclair BASIC style, I’ve called it ‘Boulder Jumper’.
If that’s not enough I went completely retro and implemented the graphics using only characters. This is my first entry to the BASIC 10Liner contest, and the first time I’ve written any Sinclair BASIC for maybe 33 or maybe more years.
My first thoughts were how can you possibly write a fully functioning game in 10 lines of code, but you can have multiple statements per line, and enter in either the 80 chars, 120, or 256 characters per line category. I think I’m just about squeezing into 120 per line.
Here’s a screenshot of the awesome gameplay:
Your character is a ‘b’ character, and rocks come from the right moving to the left, as ‘o’ characters. You press ‘m’ to jump and jump over the rocks or get squashed. You get points per rock you jump over, and have 3 lives.
Here’s the code in all it’s Sinclar BASIC glory:
And here’s the 10 lines in the Fuse emulator:
It’s not great and you could do a lot better (this is probably better suited to a ZX-81 than the ZX Spectrum), but it’s my first attempt for the 10Lines contest, and I had run writing and playing it!
30 years ago this week Sinclair Research introduced the UK to home computers with the introduction of the ZX81, complete with 1k RAM.
This was the first affordable computer for the home, and although mainly targeted at hobbyists was for many the stepping stone to other computers that came later, especially the following year when they launched the ZX Spectrum.