My brother and I were lucky in one respect in that, after December 1978 (when we moved) anyway, we were living on the doorstep, more or less, of the UK’s most important computer emporium, Comp Shop Ltd, of Station Road, New Barnet.
Of course we didn’t know this at the time – we didn’t get bitten by the computer bug until we had our own – some time in the autumn of 1980. And then I think I heard about it because my physics teacher Mr (John) Shutler mentioned that Bill, his university friend, worked there.
Mr Shutler was clearly also bitten by the bug – he was one of the small group of us who, one lunchtime in mid-summer 1980 yielded to the “the hands-on imperative” by struggling fruitlessly get Finchley Catholic High School‘s newly delivered Commodore PET to do something more than say “Ready” and “Syntax Error”: none of us had a clue but all of us knew that we had to struggle to find out how it worked – it was truly a formative moment.
But one day in late 1980 I wandered down to the shop and was smitten – they had books (on z80 assembler) I wanted, magazines I wanted (and the news agents next door obviously knew how to pick up on passing trade because they sold a fine selection) and above all computers I longed for (especially the Apple II with its sound and colour graphics – the one pictured here seems to be a late model though). What’s more they did not seem to mind if kids hung about for a bit.
I was reminded of the shop by the wikipedia article on the Compukit UK101 – Comp Shop sold them. And the shop seemed to be doing very well on the back of the rapidly expanding UK business micro-computer market, opening a second branch in the centre of London.
Thirty years later I can find no trace of it in either New Barnet or on the internet – who can tell me what happened to it?