News 1 August 2022
This retro hobbyist website rarely has new news, so
what will this item be? Well, I recently bought a video capture
device that allows me to plug my old VHS Video into my computer. Long
story short, I found a personal promotional video tape that I made
way back in 1987 to market my new game to potential publishers. After
a minor name change it was published by Firebird, a division of
British Telecom, as War cars Construction Set. The link on the right
is a short segment from my promotional video, it's quite grainy, but
reflects the quality of the era and a time when I still had some hair.
Obituary 16 September 2021
Sir Clive Sinclair
1982 Sinclair ZX Spectrum home computer
Sir Clive Sinclair, creator of many
inventions and notably, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer, sadly
passed away on 16 September 2021 at the age of 81. Its sad to
say goodbye to one of the pioneering greats of the
computer industry who helped create such a groundswell of
DIY computer programmers. The ZX Spectrum was such a well
thought out machine, ideal for the beginner to actually learn to
program a computer. Many self taught programmers went on to lead and
inspire the British Video Games Industry. as well as significant
roles in IT.
News 7 August 2020
Welcome to the newly reformed and refreshed website
for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum games that I wrote back in the 80's. The
original disappeared in 2016 after over a 15 year run. British
Telecom inherited my Freeserve website from EE then deactivated all
Freeserve websites in 2016.
I found a few unexpected technical challenges along
the way to get this site and it's Autolaunch cousin, up and running
again. The first problem was to track down both the original files
for the site as well as the software I had used to create it 20 years
ago! Quite a miracle in it's own right after laying dormant for 20
years. I certainly had a bemused look when I fired up MVD's Webbex
for the first time. In the intervening years, small mobile devices
have become quite prevalent and the site needed to be made
I have enjoyed the mental stimulus to set this all up,
with a few late nights along the way. I do hope that you find
something of interest here on this Retro Games Site.
1985 best selling game, One Man And His Droid
One Man and His Droid,
published by Mastertronic, sold over 250,000 copies in various
formats. It has even been suggested that it was the inspiration for
the game Lemmings.
The Droid from One Man And His Droid
War Cars Construction set starting screen
News 29 June 2020
I received an email from Gerard Sweeny (Hackers
Anonymous), who was checking Spectrum authors websites no longer
on-line. After a few emails back and forth, I started the operation
of getting the files together for him to host the site on my behalf.
At the end of that process, I decided that I would get the site back
on the Internet myself. Without, that original request from Gerard, I
suspect that I might never had thought to revisit this old historical
website. Cheers Gerard!
Original News 5 August 2001.................
One Man and His Droid II (1991)
the unpublished sequel to the 1985 original hit, for the first time,
is now available for free download
Cassette Cover of One Man And His Droid
Scenes from the game
My story starts here
Following the success of
Sinclair's ZX81 black and white computer, 1982 saw the launch of
their colour computer, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, designed as a
machine for people to learn the basics of computer programming.
However, history shows, that instead, it became a highly successful
games machine with over 11,000 titles produced worldwide. This single
popular home computer (8 different models and sales of over 5,000,000
world wide) inspired a base of would be computer programmers, that
helped, kickstart British computer skills.
These pages are my personal
account, sort of a mini autobiographical, of the small contribution I
made, together with free downloads of the games and interesting links.
Before starting at the
beginning, so as to speak, lets briefly jump forward in time to 1985,
to the release of my third commercially published game, One Man and
His Droid. The publisher Mastertronic, had made its entry as a
Software House, selling games at the knock down price of only
£1.99, on mechandisers in garage forecourts, stationers, just
about anywhere that would take them. It was said that their early
releases were a little dire, but by 1985 the market was maturing and
Mastertronic were ready to release a batch of new games that would
achieve critical acclaim, even measured against the full price publishers.
Mastertronic's PR launch to the
computer games press, was a pleasure cruiser on the River Thames,
from Tower Pier. Downstairs after a superb buffet, the programmers
demonstrated their new games to an expectant press and a Disco was
laid on upstairs for their entertainment afterwards. Earlier in the
day, we all mucked in carrying half dozen TV's and an array of
computers into the boat and the whole experience was rather exciting,
apart from the panic over not enough power sockets. The Games
magazine Crash, later printed a photo from the bash and yes, I was in
it. Pity I was looking the other way at the time! One Man and His
Droid went on to become a best selling game achieving total sales in
excess of 250,000.
Year Date 1981
Sinclair ZX Spectrum Computer
It came with just 1KB of memory
Pretty much everyone
bought an extra 16KB memory expansion module
Before starting the games
listing, my story begins back in 1981, when by chance, I saw an
advertisement for what promised to be a fully functioning computer.
Thinking back a further 10 years, to my time at Technical College, I
recalled doing (and failing) an O level course in Computer Science.
Learning computer Science in 1971, meant that you never actually got
anywhere near a computer, except a single half day visit to the
Computer Department of The University of Kent at Canterbury. Here we
all sat in front of what appeared to be mechanical typewriter
keyboards, with a printer. Anyway, here was this advert for a
Sinclair ZX 81 computer, appearing to be significantly more
sophisticated than UKC's computer department of 10 years previous. It
was, believe it or not and I took to the hobby with relish. Limited
as the computer was, (standard 1K of memory), it did work and was
excellent for understanding the basics of computer programming using
Year date 1982
Cassette sleeve cover for my first set of games that I
Intelligent loading module
allowing you to choose which of the two games to load
Fruit Machine payout
The Fruit Machine
The Sinclair ZX Spectrum was
vastly superior to its predecessor and boasted 16 colours with sound.
It was great fun learning how to program all the additional features
that the computer had. Unlike the ZX81 which had no ability to
produce user defined graphics, the Spectrum made it easy for the
Basic programmer to use up to 26 redefined graphical characters. Of
course, designing them was another issue. The initial method was good
old tried and tested graph paper using a grid of 8X8 cells (for one
character) painting in the dots that were required for the shape. It
was then necessary using binary mathematics notation to formulate the
eight decimal numbers that would be stored in memory to produce the
desired graphic. All rather primitive stuff, but in those days, you
didn't think twice about it. One of the first complete programs that
I ever wrote was UDG Aid which I actually sold as part of the
Collection Two tape. Through 1982 and 1983, purely as a hobby, I
developed three games and the UDG Aid, programmed in Spectrum Basic,
to the point where I felt they could be marketable.
At the time, software sales
were in their infancy and most companies advertising in the computer
magazines were invariably producing the stuff in their bedrooms. Why
should I be any different, so I needed to come up with a Trading
name. Micro computers and software could be shortened to Microsoft
and I used my Son's name Simon to finish the name off. That's how the
name Simon Microsoft was born, but I had a nagging suspicion that I
might have heard the Microsoft name somewhere, so I added an hyphen.
Little did I know then. -- Sorry Bill.
Was my attempt at selling my
own software successful? Alas not, with only 60 or so tapes sold, I
just about covered the cost of the magazine advertisements and still
had to cover the cost of the blank tapes, printing and tape
duplication (two mono Boots tape recorders.). It would be some time
before any more of my software would be sold again.
Sinclair Spectrum Emulators
any Spectrum game
on a PC, tablet
or phone, you will need a special piece of software that runs an
emulation of the ZX Spectrum, downloaded to
The World of Spectrum offers a huge selection of emulators,
here, for their download page.
Fruit Machine (from Collection One)
Published By Simon Micro-Soft 1982
Written in Sinclair Basic, this
program must be run in an emulation of a 48K Spectrum.
Fruit Machine features periodic
random holds and occasional Super Nudges, where the reels can be
held, nudged up or down. Wins and holds are purely random, so it is
possible to win (as well as lose!)