If you spend any time following technology news on the internet, you’ll know it’s over-run with rumours of new products [particularly in the case of a fruit-named company from Cupertino]. In the 80s it was just the same. Check out this News page from PCWs debut issue. Here we see the first rumour of the ZX Spectrum, referred to here as ‘the ZX82′ *and* the Commodore MAX.
I particularly like the claim that the new Sinclair machine will have ‘a mechanical keyboard with ‘feel’ similar to a typewriter’. When the machine came out, with it’s squishy rubber keyboard, many pundits claimed it had the consistency of ‘dead flesh’…
Popular Computing Weekly arrived in April 1982, the first weekly computer magazine in the UK [or anywhere, I suspect]. One of the notable features of the earlier editions was the fantastic cover art which attempted to represent the scenarios of the 8bit games inside. Here’s the cover of issue #1
It’s not quite clear what’s going on, there’s a couple of spaceships, some lightning [always plenty of lightning in space] and a giant ZX81 keyboard. Inside we can find the dazzling description of the game:
In the depths of space surrounding the interstellar shipping lanes of the plaet Urth a desparate battle is being fought. The shipping lanes must be kept clear of space mines being dropped by the evil Zexions.
However, this runs on a 1k ZX81, so perhaps the grand description is rather over-egging the pudding. Below is the code, it should be pretty clear that this is not a particularly complex game, with your ship being represented with ‘<' and the aliens as '.' and '*' - not quite the epic scene hinted at on the cover, but these were simpler times and we used our imaginations...
Computer magazines in the 80s were filled with such listings, and long arduous hours were spent typing them in, desparately hoping that the machine wouldn’t overheat, or the RAM pack fall out before you’d finished.