Tech, Gadgets, Photography, Social Media and Poor Spelling
I’ve owned a lot of things from the tech industry over the years however some item’s do stand out more than others as being very special. I’ve been a tech geek for a long time and some of this stuff is old, however it’s all here for a reason.
Between the start of the 80’s and the end of the 90’s in the UK there were two computer companies breaking the monopoly of Sega and Nintendo who owned the market for video games during that period. And while the BBC B Micro was the big player in education arena it was Sinclair and Commodore who were the biggest players in the home computer market at the time. While Commodore had the C64 as being its big 8 bit player the Sinclair ZX range was the brainchild of a Brit Sir Clive Sinclair.
While it all started with the ZX81 and the devices which came after it was the ZX Spectrum 128k which seemed to be the big seller of the range.
The features included 128 kB RAM, three-channel audio via the AY-3-8912 chip, MIDIcompatibility, an RS-232 serial port, an RGB monitor port, 32 kB of ROM including an improved BASIC editor, and an external keypad.
What made this computers stand ahead of the video consoles was the ability to no only play games, but to programme the device in basic as well and a trip to WHSmith’s each month would allow you to pick up one of a number of spectrum magazines with reviews and all importantly the basic programming sections. Spending hours typing in the programmes, and then running them. While the copying didn’t teach to to program as such I was just copying what i saw, it did help with the concepts on how computers work, even if i didn’t know it at the time.
While the BASIC programs were great, the games for the age while not up to their arcade counterparts yet were great, classic titles like Chuckie Egg or Jet Set Willy or joystick breakers like Daley Thompsons Decathlon soon paved the way to what in hindsight were amazing feats of programming with games like Sim City and Chase HQ making it onto the platform.
We didn’t have the internet, we didn’t even have modems, we learnt to programme from magazines, we waited 5-10 minutes for games to load off tape. There was no multi tasking and get too hot and the whole thing would lock up. Yet this was the first experience many of us had of computers.
This was computing at its raw edge.
Just like the C64 and the Zx Spectrum, there was the Atari ST and Amiga 500 which followed with the 16/32bit computers of the 90’s were competing with each other. The Atari device at the time was the music machine, it had midi ports and was loved by the electronic music of the era. The Amiga on the other hand was all about the graphics.
With 512kB of chip Ram, One double-density floppy disk drive is built in, which is completely programmable and thus can read 720 kB IBM PC disks, 880 kB standard Amiga disks, and up to 984 kBwith custom formatting, a built in keyboard and way ahead of anything else at the time a mouse this device was a huge advance from the generation previous to it.
The device also came with an Operating system Workbench and on a floppy disk AmigaOS which again was revolutionary, this was a time when office Pc’s were using DOS 3.3 a command line simple system. It was possible to boot the amiga off a floppy sidk into a point and click GUI this for many of the users put them well ahead of the curve.
Non gaming titles which ran from Amiga OS include Delexe Paint and Octomed used for painting and music manipulation however when it game to graphics and therefore games the device was leaps and bounds ahead of anything else around at the time. From the ground breaking parallax scrolling of Shadow of the Beast and huge beats of Xenon 2 and the famous “Ice Cream” of the Speedball 2 arena thee were some great games on this platform. However there was also a great number of Demos’ disks full of small cartoons, music and graphics demos showing what could be done on the device using BOB’s and HAM..
The Amiga was also the choice of many because it was easy to crack the disk protection on most of the games and as such piracy of the media was rife.
With its mouse, floppy disk, point and click operating system, advanced internals this was the first high tech computer many had and it’s not surprising it sold so many devices worldwide.
I’ve included this in the list for a simple reason, while the Nintendo Gameboy was one of the most popular hand held gaming devices of its era I bought the Sega game gear for a simple reason, its colour screen. It wasn’t actually the first colour game console it was the third commercially available color handheld console, after the Atari Lynx and the TurboExpress.
As a portable version of the Master System (SMS). It featured a lower resolution screen than the SMS, but allowed for a larger color palette. In addition, it could also produce stereo sound (through headphones) as opposed to the SMS’s monaural output, though very few games made use of the stereo capabilities. Unlike the original Game Boy, in which the screen was positioned above the buttons, the system was held in a landscape position, with the controls at the sides, making it less cramped to hold.
Approximately 390 official titles were released for the Game Gear, although at the time of the console’s launch, there were only six software titles available. Having Sonic in the backpack ready to go when on the bus or somewhere was a good thing.
However the device was a bit of a battery hog.. its 4 hour battery life (5 hours on later models) using 6 alkaline batteries was still not as good as the Game Boy’s 10–14 hours of four-AA battery lifespan (due to that system’s monochrome screen and lack of a backlight). Battery life was a much bigger issue before handheld systems had built-in rechargeable batteries; gamers needed either a constant supply of six AA batteries, or a rechargeable Ni-Cd battery pack that was sold separately and clipped on a user’s belt or onto the back of the Game Gear using the clips and screw holes.
Today smart phones are everywhere IOS and Android coupled with cheap mobile handset deals have made these devices common, however back in the mid 90’s the smartphone was something Palm made, and the PDA was King. There was no mobility here no ability to make a phone call this was about portable apps being able to sync with your desktop PC and read your apps on the go.
This really had my interest even in the early days and i bought an HP Jordana 560 PDA
What i remember about this device was it had email syncing on it, it synced with my office PC using a dock. I did buy a Wifi card later for the device which did provide some internet connectivity.
This was my first use of a portable computing device and was an enjoyable one, there was a good number of applications for the device found on various webpages including map packages.
Needless to day the concept of the PDA has been superseded byt the smartphone, it was nice however to be ahead of the curve.
MiniDisc was announced by Sony in September 1992 and released that November for sale in Japan and in December for the USA and Europe. While it was apparently pretty big in Japan, in Europe i seem to remember it not being so huge on the take up. I bought a Sony Portable Mini disk player just before i left to backpack around the world. I liked the idea of the CD in a hard case, Smaller sized and the playe only needed a single AA battery to work. The sound quality was great and it’s a shame this format didn’t take off
As well as having premastered Mini disks which i remember trying to hunt down in HMV and getting a handful of disc’s to replace CD’s I already had I also had a huge number of the blank disks which i could record “Mix taps” compilations with as the portable player supported recording as well.
The player was stolen on a Train between Bangalore and Madras I’d love to know if the guy enver managed to sell it?
I’m an early adopter, i was playing portable games ahead of the curve and listening to mini disc’s sometimes this works like the understanding of the PDA sometimes however it doesn’t. This won’t stop me from early adoption i’m a tech addict to the behest of the credit card some times.
I’d love to know some of the early tech you had..