matthewpennell.com
A blog of acquiescent temper, miscellaneous opinions, and uncertain vote

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Visiting my grandparents happened so infrequently that memories of those trips have become confused and muddled over time, but one thing that always stands out in my mind is my grandfather’s office.

Looking back, it was quite a small space, just a long cupboard really, but he had fitted a workbench along one side, and this was where all of his gadgets lived. He was a keen photographer—I think the room also functioned as a darkroom, although that was something I was never invited to witness—so there was plenty of camera equipment around, but when I was in there my attention was entirely focused on one thing only: the computer.

He must have been around sixty when he bought the thing, and I’m forever grateful that a man of his generation even considered working with those early 8-bit machines, as fiddly and complex to operate as they were. It had a monochrome screen, green on black, and tiny cartridges with exposed tape that could be inserted into the twin drives to load applications and games. It was insanely expensive for the time. I mostly used it to play golf.

I’m mostly prompted to this reminiscence by my own recent purchase of a now almost 40-year-old Spectrum 48K+, the exact same model that I grew up using, and on which I first learned to code. Partly prompted by nostalgia, but also by a desire to find any reason to start coding again, my intention is to go one step beyond my limited teenage programming capacity and actually do some assembly language coding, with the ultimate goal of making my own game. Who knows, perhaps with the resurrection of the venerable Crash magazine (always my favourite monthly subscription), I might even fulfil a childhood ambition and get a mention in their review pages.