Infinite loop

March 19th, 2013

A slice of prime early 1980s computing nostalgia, served up for British computer geeks of a certain age by The Register:

They would, Clive Sinclair claimed on 23 April 1982, revolutionise home computer storage. Significantly cheaper than the established 5.25-inch and emerging 3.5-inch floppy drives of the time – though not as capacious or as fast to serve up files – 'Uncle' Clive's new toy would "change the face of personal computing", Sinclair Research's advertising puffed.

Yet this "remarkable breakthrough at a remarkable price" would take more than 18 months more to come to market. In the meantime, it would become a byword for delays and disappointment – and this in an era when almost every promised product arrived late.

Sinclair's revolutionary product was the ZX Microdrive. This is its story. [...]

It was a pity that Sinclair botched the ZX Microdrive so badly: it was a tragedy that the QL relied upon Microdrives.1 I tell you, with floppy disk drives, a decent keyboard and a finished operating system, the QL could've been a contender.

  1. And an inadequate keyboard. And firmware that required more space on the built-in ROM than could fit on that ROM, leaving early users with no choice but to to plug in an external ROM card holding the remainder of their computer's operating system.

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Kate Bush, 1982-style

January 27th, 2013

A tribute to the ZX Spectrum and the albums of Kate Bush:

The Kick Inside, ZX Spectrum-style

(In fairness, I should note that the copy above is at 50% of the size of the original, which serves to mask some of the rough edges. Follow the link to see the album covers in all their pixillated, colour-clashing glory.)

Nice work. It's surprising how nicely some of them turned out.

The Sensual World and 50 Words for Snow benefit from being essentially black and white images in the first place, so the dithering doesn't fall foul of the limitations of the Spectrum's graphics display,1 but some of the more colourful later albums like Aerial and Director's Cut look pretty damned fine all things considered. The run of albums from Lionheart to Hounds of Love is another matter entirely…

One last thought: we should all be eternally grateful that the creator of these tribute images didn't accompany them with reproductions of Kate's music created using a Spectrum's sound chip.

[Via MetaFilter]

  1. Basically, in graphics mode the 256×192 pixel screen was divided into 8×8 pixel blocks, each of which was limited to a single foreground and background colour. Chunky, but more than made up for by the sheer amount of computer you got for your £175 if you went for the version with a massive 48KB – yes, that's Kilobytes, not Megabytes – of RAM. Those were the days.

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