Tuesday, February 23, 2021

An American Original - Timex/Sinclair

In the early days of computing and videogames, magazines devoted to specific systems were very popular.  By 1986, the Sinclair and Timex-Sinclair lines of computers were a dying brand, but they had a very devoted set of followers, of which I was one.  The primary feature of the Timex-Sinclair 2068 computer was its relatively low price of $200.  Compare that to the Commodore-64 introduced in 1983 at $595, which is around $1600 in today's dollars.  Other brands of computers were higher.  Most of these were way too cost-prohibitive for me, so I went with the cheapest model, but I happened to very much like the brand.

I did an internet search for a videogame I wrote in 1985/1986 called, "Diamond Mike".  I found a magazine that I had completely forgotten about where I had a quarter-page ad on page 34 for the game, along with another quarter page of products that I was selling, most of which I don't remember selling.  I think that I had entered into some kind of partnership with another company to sell their products.  The wording of the ad looks somewhat unprofessional like it was written by me, which it was, but this was typical of these relatively obscure magazines of the time.  I think that I had the advertisement typeset by a professional printer because in those days we didn't have modern computers to help us do that.  The game was in color, but the magazine was black and white, so the advertisement is Black and White.

The magazine did a "review" of the game on page 4.  Essentially they were scratching my back for buying advertising.  The wording of the "review" isn't that different from my advertisement, and they also said a few nice words.


The graphics capabilities of the 2068 computer were not as quite good as the more expensive brands, and since I did my own artwork and I am by no means an artist, the graphics of the game are pretty basic.  This was typical for many computer games of the time.  What I could do well is write efficient code in "machine language", which is the internal language of the CPU chip.   An honest review of my game would have said that it was an imitation of another game called "Boulder Dash", but when "Boulder Dash" was ported to the 2068 computer months later, its code ran too slow.  They didn't do a good job on the port.  They should have gotten me to write the game.

This kind of work eventually led me to get a job in the videogame industry.

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