1200 baud

The storage media of choice for the 80s home computer was the cassette tape. Most houses had a mono-cassette recorder, or they could be bought relatively cheaply. Loading a program would involve winding the tape to the correct point, and playing the 1200 baud signal into the computer. Minutes would pass and, if you had a spectrum, brightly coloured bars would flicker across the screen as the bleeps and squeals were converted into code.

While tidying up the shardcore studio I stumbled across these two examples, which nicely highlight the state of the software industry, circa 1983. First up, 747 by ‘Doctor Soft’: I’ve been unable to find out much online about this company, but with the photocopied insert it’s easy to see that this was probably a very small operation, operating out of someone’s house.

Contrast this with the BBC port of the hugely successful Manic Miner. Slick artwork and higher production values were a trademark of Software Projects, who produced this game.

This game also introduced a form of ‘copy protection’, which ingeniously played to the limits of available technology. Cassette games are obviously easy to copy – just get two cassette recorders and connect them together. This game came with a special four colour code grid, and you would be challenged to type in the relevant colour sequence. And of course, since there were no colour photocopiers to speak of in 1983, there was no easy way to copy this piece of paper.

The BBC Micro

Firstly, apologies to you all for an unexpected haiatus in retrogeekery. We’re back now, with an unregularly scheduled selection of prime 80s fun. I’d like to welcome a new contributer to the blog, imipak, who also has a stack of mouldering magazines in his collection and who has kindly offered to scan some for us:

And so, without further ado, here is the first contribution, from Personal Computer World, 1982, a ‘preview’ of ‘the most talked about machine in the history of the micro’, the BBC Microcomputer.