GOTO considered helpful.

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

Space Amaze

Space Amaze

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...

Space Amaze Listing

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.

5 thoughts on “GOTO considered helpful.

  1. Many happy memories of typing all this code in, followed by a power cut or the memory pack wobbling, or an unfindable typo…worse with the Speccie “poke” codes though, admittedly… ;)

  2. And after typing in the program, many more hours could be spent trying to find obscure bugs in the listing so that the program might actually work.

    This listing is wonderfully representative in that respect. Unless I’ve misread the code, it should be impossible to move your spaceship left or right…

  3. …or your father coming to have a go, the program crashing, and then him pressing “A” and enter in K mode. And we all remember what “A” represents in K mode, don’t we?


    Still. Bitter. After. All. These. Years.


  4. I used to *run* these in my head, my folks being far too cheap to buy me a computer.

    Reading some code is still the most enjoyable way of learning a new language.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>