domingo, 23 de abril de 2017

35 anos do ZX Spectrum

Não poderia deixar passar esta data, pois este computadorzinho revolucionou o mundo dos jogos na década de 80.
Em 23 de Abril de 1982 era anunciado por Clive Sinclair o lançamento de seu novo micro computador, o ZX Spectrum no Earls Court Computer Show. A nova máquina seria vendida por £125 na versão de 16K RAM e £175 na de 48K.

Eu tive um TK90X, ou melhor, tenho ainda, desde 1985. Acompanhei as revistas e a publicação dos jogos, que vinham ao Brasil somente pirateados, sendo muito raro encontrar uma fita original. Os jogos eram lançados por softhouses com outros nomes, mas depois eram encontrados em anúncios de revistas de computadores brasileiras. Fizeram sucesso a REDE Soft, com vasto catálogo de titulos e até fanzines dedicados aos jogos. Foi uma época muito boa, os jogos eram incrivelmente (para a época) detalhados, com cores e sons.


What made the Spectrum Britain's best-selling and most influential home computer?

Of all factors, cost was probably the most important in the Spectrum's
success. At under £200, the Spectrum was a genuine price breakthrough for a
computer of its power, and later the cost of a 48K model would drop still further,
from £179 to £125. Of course the ZX81 had also been a cheap computer, and it
had sold well (without the success of the ZX81, there might never have been a
Spectrum) but over the ZX81 the Spectrum had more memory, better graphics, colour
graphics, sound and (I would argue) looked and felt better. The Spectrum was not
just a cheap computer, therefore, it was a cheap and desirable computer.

Sinclair was keen to promote the Spectrum as a powerful educational tool.
The message was heard by parents up and down the land. For those that didn't
hear it direct from Sinclair, their teenagers would be only too happy to
repeat it for their benefit. Of course gaming was the real reason why most of
those kids wanted Spectrums; would the machine have sold so well so quickly if it
had been marketed as such, however?

It would, of course, be a mistake to claim the Spectrum represented the
state of the art in computer technology for the time. It's colour clash, for
example, would become derided by the users of other machines in competitive
playground banter. But how many of us Spectrum wannabes even noticed colour
clash before we got to know our machines? When your mate showed
you Sabre Wulf on his new computer he'd just been bought for his birthday
(because it was educational) were you thinking to yourself what a turn off the
ocassional spots of colour clash were?
Well, I know I wasn't. Hi-res graphics, colour, sound and that enormous 48K
memory were all you needed to know.

The design of the Spectrum - by Rick Dickinson, who won a Design Council
award for his design for the ZX81 - was quite unique. It looked good then and it
looks good now. Can you honestly say the same of other computers of the era?
At the time they might have looked more like how we felt computers should look,
but now they look just dated and, well,yellow. It would be many years before
Apple 'revolutionised' the IT world in its iMac with the novel idea that what a
computer looked like was important.
Sinclair was there first.

Over nine thousand of them, in fact. Amongst them titles you just had to have.
Amongst them classics considered now to have created design principles coders
continue to follow today.
Manic Miner, Sabrewulf, The Hobbit, Daley Thompson's Decathalon,
Knight Lore, Skool Daze, 3D Starstrike, Trashman, Elie, Fairlight, Match Day,
Tau Ceti, Way of the Exploding Fist, The Great Escape, MOVIE, Exolon, Head
Over Heels, Cybernoid... the list is endless (and we haven't even touched
on the coin-op conversions). And they're still being made today.

Perhaps most important of all was that Spectrum games could be copied - all it
took was a tape-to-tape stereo, and most of us had access to one of those.
Sure, it was illegal - and we all ocassionaly spent time fretting over
those stories about the police raiding some-teenager-somewhere's collection
of C90s - but the casette of copied games represented two important things:
free software for your Speccy in the receiving and mates in the giving. At the
time, these were pretty much the only boxes in a teenager's life that needed

Whichever your personal favourite was, once the Spectrum magazines
transformed themselves from boring type-in anthologies to funky social
commentators, a new cultural dimension was added to the whole computer
ownership thing. You couldn't take your Spectrum to school, but a copy of
CRASH slipped into the bag easily. On the issue of making friends, the
magazines provided important information on which games were the most
popular. Well-chosen titles and a tapeto-tape recorder didn't just equal friends,
you see; it equalled status.

Instantly on power-up, the BASIC language was there waiting for you. It
took just two lines of code to demonstrate to the average schoolboy
what that meant and to hint at what was achievable:
10 PRINT "hello"
20 GOTO 10
What made Sinclair BASIC special?
Technically speaking, it wasn't the best on offer - its ability to loop was
restricted to FOR...NEXT and GOTO, and its handling of sub-routines was even
more, well, basic.
Where it shone, however, was in its handling of user errors:
immediate feedback via in-built syntax routines - which not only rejected
incorrectly formatted statements, but also highlighted where the errors were
in your code - made Spectrum BASIC very easy to learn through trial and error.
And colour and sound were accessed through a small number of conceptually very
straightforward commands - INK, PAPER, BRIGHT, etc (compare this, for
example, to the complicated system of PEEKs POKEs and CHR$ stuff on the
C64) - making graphics and music extremely accessible. Throw in a very
comprehensive and readable BASIC programming manual by Vickers and
Robin Bradbeer and the end result was a system very much orientated towards
persuading the beginner there was a great that deal they - they - were able to
achieve with it. The bedroom programmer was born. Once you'd mastered BASIC,
the next logical step was to assembly language and the speed and power of machine
code. The strength of the British game producing industry today is often attributed
to the easy route into programming offered by the Spectrum.

In BASIC lies the Spectrum's legacy, and also its irony: we told our parents
that a Spectrum would be good for our education, when really we wanted it for
the games, but even the most die-hard gamer couldn't avoid learning just a little
about BASIC; it turns out, you see, that we all got educated after all.

Source : ZXFormat nr 11 - April 2007 - Comemorative 25 years of Spectrum

Imagem retirada de anúncio no Ebay UK, mostrando um guia de jogos de aventura publicada na revista Sinclair User 

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