My early computers
My first computer was a Tandy TRS-80 -
I paid extra to get the model with 16kb of RAM - yes that is "k".
This machine taught me masses about computing and I spent a lot of time dis-assembling
the BIOS to find out how it worked.
There was also a brilliant book published by Tandy (Radio Shack) that explained in simple terms how
a computer was built from the basis building blocks of AND and NOR gates - it was called "Understanding Digital Computers" by Forrest M. Mims, III.
After a couple of years I outgrew the TRS-80 and I bought a Sinclair QL
However there were very few games available for the QL, so I decided to create
a simple Pacman game, which I had published in the March 1985 "QL User" magazine. I even received loyalties for a few copies that they sold on microdrives
- for those too lazy to type the code out of the magazine.
I converted the game into Flash. It is as close to the original as possible,
I make no apologies for how bad it looks now. Click here to play
My third computer was an Amstrad 1640. This computer was priced cheaper than a standard IBM PC,
which only had CGA graphics (ie 4 colours) and the IBM XT which often came with EGA graphics
(up to 256 colours)
The Amstrad had a strange graphics adapter which was half way between the CGA and EGA standards
(I called this DGA - although I have never heard anyone else use that term).
This meant that if a program had been especially written for the Amstrad you would have a 256 colours,
but any software that was written for the IBM PC was limited to just 4 colours.
Around this time there were a number of games, from Sierra, that were popular. Games like Kings Quest,
Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry. But these looked terrible in 4 colours.
So one day I decided to have a go at writing a graphics driver for the Amstrad which would allow me to
play Sierra games in their full splendour.
Working evenings only this took just over a week, and the results were incredible. As with the Pacman
game for the QL, I sent the software to a computer magazine, but never heard back from them, so never
made any money from it. But it was good fun playing the games.