Today marks the thirtieth anniversary of the advent of the ZX Spectrum, the micro-computer than really brought computing to the masses, in Britain at least.
But I am in two minds about it. Unlike the BBC Micro it was not a rich-kids toy, as it cost half the price. But it also did more than anything to move the focus of UK home computing away from programming and on to games.
I am not claiming to be a saint in this regard either – when my brother and I finally got one I could feel my interest and enthusiasm for code-writing wane too. With all the good games that were available home made code from a 16 year old was never likely to match that from the increasingly professional software shops and anyway took time that could have been spent trying to crack the problems of the games (The Hobbit – see the video – was a favourite).
My brother, though, did keep hacking away. Even when doing his PhD, in the late 80s/early 90s he was still writing published code for the Spectrum (see SNA2TIFF).