|Occupation||journalist, author, programmer|
|Known for||computer game books|
Tim Hartnell (1951–1991) was an Australian journalist, self-taught programmer and extremely prolific, bestselling author of books and magazines on computer games. He set up The National ZX80 User Group with Trevor Sharples in 1980 producing a more-or-less monthly magazine entitled Interface. This User Group then expanded to include the ZX81, Acorn Atom and Spectrum computers, and provided a springboard for Tim and Trevor to launch the first of their home computing books. His company, Interface Publications (set up with Elizabeth North), produced titles for all of the machines in the home computer market, including Sinclair machines. Hartnell wrote several compendiums of computer games, which typically had several categories of games, with several games in each category. Each category had tips for writing enjoyable games in that genre. Each game had a description of the program and an explanation of its implementation, sometimes with ideas for modifications; this was followed by the raw code, which the reader had to enter into the computer. Some long games, such as Bannochburn Legacy, had more than 500 lines of code.
To illustrate the style of these compendiums, here is the Table of Contents from Hartnell's Giant Book of Computer Games:
Hartnell also wrote several how-to books about various genres of computer games, including Giant Book of Spectrum Games published in 1983, and also edited others, including Pete Shaw's Creating Adventure Games On Your ZX Spectrum, also published in 1983. They were designed so that a beginner could, using his programs as examples, intuitively learn the BASIC programming language. Although he created a wide variety of games, the code for all of them tended to be characterized by an outline-style organization that made it easy to discern the basics of how the program worked. His prose showed a passionate interest in, and enjoyment of, the games he created; he tended to be imaginative, witty, and dramatic, as well as nostalgic - he had little use for graphics, favoring text games that let the programmer's and player's imaginations do the work of creating the setting.
Hartnell returned to Australia in 1984 and died of cancer in 1991, at the age of 40.
The Jupiter Ace by Jupiter Cantab was a British home computer of the early 1980s. The Ace differed from other microcomputers of the time in that its programming environment used Forth instead of the more popular BASIC.
The ZX Spectrum is an 8-bit personal home computer developed by Sinclair Research. It was first released in the United Kingdom on 23 April 1982 and went on to become Britain's best selling microcomputer.
The ZX81 is a home computer that was produced by Sinclair Research and manufactured in Dundee, Scotland, by Timex Corporation. It was launched in the United Kingdom in March 1981 as the successor to Sinclair's ZX80 and designed to be a low-cost introduction to home computing for the general public. It was hugely successful; more than 1.5 million units were sold. In the United States it was initially sold as the ZX-81 under licence by Timex. Timex later produced its own versions of the ZX81: the Timex Sinclair 1000 and Timex Sinclair 1500. Unauthorized ZX81 clones were produced in several countries.
Ashby Computers and Graphics Limited, trading as Ultimate Play the Game, was a British video game developer and publisher, founded in 1982, by ex-arcade game developers Tim and Chris Stamper. Ultimate released a series of successful games for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, MSX and Commodore 64 computers from 1983 until its closure in 1988. Ultimate are perhaps best remembered for the big-selling titles Jetpac and Sabre Wulf, each of which sold over 300,000 copies in 1983 and 1984 respectively, and their groundbreaking series of isometric arcade adventures using a technique termed Filmation. Knight Lore, the first of the Filmation games, has been retrospectively described in the press as "seminal ... revolutionary" (GamesTM), "one of the most successful and influential games of all time" (X360), and "probably ... the greatest single advance in the history of computer games" (Edge).
The Multiface was a hardware peripheral released by Romantic Robot for several 1980s home computers. The primary function of the device was to dump the computer's memory to external storage. Pressing a red button on the Multiface activated it. As most games of the era did not have a save game feature, the Multiface allowed players to save their position by saving a loadable snapshot of the game. Home computer software of the early 1980s was typically loaded into RAM in one go, with copy protection measures concentrating the loading phase or just after it. The snapshot feature could be used after copy protection routines had been executed, to create a backup that was effectively unprotected against unauthorised distribution. Later models of the Multiface mitigated this by requiring the device to be present when re-loading the dumps into memory, making the dumps useless to people without a Multiface. Software producers also reacted to the threat by using routines that would prevent execution of the product if it detected that a Multiface was present and by loading the software in multiple parts, thus requiring the presence of the original, copy-protected media.
Jet Set Willy is a platform video game originally written by Matthew Smith for the ZX Spectrum home computer. It was published in 1984 by Software Projects and ported to most home computers of the time.
Sinclair BASIC is a dialect of the programming language BASIC used in the 8-bit home computers from Sinclair Research and Timex Sinclair. The Sinclair BASIC interpreter was made by Nine Tiles Networks Ltd.
The Quill is a program to write home computer adventure games. Written by Graeme Yeandle, it was published on the ZX Spectrum by Gilsoft in December 1983. Although available to the general public, it was used by several games companies to create best-selling titles; over 450 commercially published titles for the ZX Spectrum were written using The Quill.
A peripheral from Sinclair Research for its ZX Spectrum home computer, the ZX Interface 1 was launched in 1983. Originally intended as a local area network interface for use in school classrooms, it was revised before launch to also act as the controller for up to eight ZX Microdrive high-speed tape-loop cartridge drives. It also included a DE-9 RS-232 interface capable of operating at up to 19.2 kbit/s. At hardware level it was fundamentally a voltage adaptor, the serial protocol being implemented in software by bit-banging. This led to problems when receiving data, but not when transmitting.
Pssst is an action video game developed and published by Ultimate Play the Game that was released for the ZX Spectrum in June 1983. In the game, Robbie the Robot has to protect his plant as it is attacked by various insects, each of which needs a different repellent to neutralise it. Pssst was the second game to be released by Ultimate, after Jetpac.
Jetpac is an arcade-style shooter video game developed and published by Ultimate Play the Game and released for the ZX Spectrum and VIC-20 in 1983, and on the BBC Micro in 1984. The game is the first instalment in the Jetman series, and is the first game to be released by the Ultimate company, who were later known as Rare. The game follows Jetman as he must rebuild his rocket in order to explore different planets, while simultaneously defending himself from hostile aliens. Jetpac has since been included in a number of other Rare titles such as an unlockable minigame in 1999's Donkey Kong 64 and part of the 2015 compilation Rare Replay. The game was later included in a game compilation on the ZX Spectrum Vega. It later spawned two direct sequels and a 2007 remake, Jetpac Refuelled, which was released for the Xbox Live Arcade service.
MicroBee was a series of networkable home computers by Applied Technology, which became publicly listed company MicroBee Systems Limited soon after its release.
Christopher Pile, a.k.a. The Black Baron, is a British programmer, born in 1969, living in Plymouth, Devon. He created the computer viruses 'Pathogen' and 'Queeg'. He was also a prolific programmer of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and MGT SAM Coupé 8-bit home computers, writing Pro-DOS, a CP/M emulator for the SAM, an implementation of the arcade game Defender, and the Dr Kode assembler for the ZX Spectrum, as well as Dr Scroll VTX5000 modem software.
Despite the fact that the ZX Spectrum hardware was limited by most standards, its software library was very diverse, including programming language implementations, several Z80 assemblers/disassemblers, Sinclair BASIC compilers, Sinclair BASIC extensions, databases, word processors, spread sheets, drawing and painting tools, even 3D modelling (VU-3D), and, of course, many, many games.
Costa Panayi is a former computer game programmer active during the 1980s. He founded Vortex Software with Paul Canter, publishing games for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC.
Pete Shaw is a British author, broadcaster, programmer and theatrical producer.
Andrew Glaister is a video game programmer.
Ah Diddums is a computer game released by Imagine Software for the ZX Spectrum in 1983 and can be run on the 16KB/48KB versions of the machine and the Commodore 64 in 1984.
Red Shift was a video game publisher active between 1983 and 1985. They were well known for their strategy games and had a close working relationship with Julian Gollop and Games Workshop.
The Blade of Blackpoole is a 1982 adventure game written by Tim Wilson and published by Sirius Software.