My first independent gaming experience was had on this machine, I was given access in the evenings to an Osborne 1 at work premises, I ran Collosal Cave Adventure in Mbasic under CPM on this machine. wow … that little vector screen showed me another entire world, the fantasy that game provided a maze of twisty passages all the same, the bird cage, the rusty iron wand, plugh – XYZZY
The First computer I used, little did I realise this computer was far superior to that which I would own myself until at least 1985, but then at the cost a 48k Apple II was, that could be expected, Though I only saw this machine hooked upto a green screen, I remember its software being particularly good for the time, Apple invaders was an almost perfect clone of space invaders and there were many other intriguing software demos, I remember one with an interactive room, in which a person in a picture winked at you and various things like that, maybe it was an early hypercard demo ? but for the time it was an amazing machine.
This machine was the first to really crack home console gaming globally, and set the precedent which is still true with consoles today, that the machine maybe reasonably priced, but to afford to buy the number of games to really show the machine off, would cost you just as much money as the console again, I used to regularly visit a friend of mine who had the original atari heavy sixer VCS, and we had great fun playing the games, though I think he just invited me round to show off his prowess with the games he had mastered ;), I was amazed as to how many games his family seemed to buy for this machine as carts were not cheap. this machine most definitely had the feel of the arcade at home, and its the sounds of this machines games, that to me are most redolent of early gaming. The VCS hit peoples home well before the home micro computer revolution and had full colour gaming with juicy sounds going on, well before the much later 1k ZX81’s home computers B&W efforts. and all this with 128 bytes of memory and maybe a 1 or 2k game rom, incredible.
Not the first computer I had access to or used that honour would fall to an apple II, but the ZX81 was the first computer I got to own and share with my brother in 1981, we could never afford the RAM pack, as it was a one off gift and the parents would not stretch the monetary input to the ram pack, to be honest I should have written a game or two in basic for the 1k and sold them, as 15-20 lines of basic didnt take long to right, and If I had sold 10 cassettes I could have bought the ram pack, 2nd tape deck to copy with would have been an issue. the ZX81 was an absolutely minimal computer, in fact i would say Clive Sinclair manufactured the ZX81 down to its retail price, full well knowing that most people would have to buy a ram expansion and a better keyboard (which was awful) to make any decent use of this machine long term, as the Z80 was a capable processor, perhaps, more so, than the paired down 6502, but with 1k of memory the machine was really a stopgap or placeholder for machines that would rapidly succeed it. my next computer was the incomparably powerful disc based CPC6128. but the ZX81 built the computer market in the UK on the basis of making machines cheap enough for everyone to afford, such that demand for upgrades and newer machines became part of the general desire of the public. before the ZX81 your average person had no concept of affording a computer. The BBC model B was mainly an education machine and far too expensive except for middle class to upper class rich people almost all computers at this point would have been £300 and up, the ZX81 brought that down to £79.00 and you could get deals such as a ZX81, tape deck and a couple of games all in for £99.00, this was unheard of at the time hence its success, in getting its computing foot through the door of the ordinary folks homes. but it was never going to replace or compete with the atari 2600 console on the gaming front. but it was certainly unlike an atari, was just capable of being described as a fully fledged computer, when you first got this computer out the box, unless your parents were relaxed enough to get you an additionally expensive £5.00 cassette game or two to go with it, the only thing you could do with it was start programming in basic as that was the only software built in to the computer, or type in a listing, both such activities would of course enhance your understanding of writing code, kids today could do with such limited machines in order to draw them into basic code writing. But the lure of the console today is too easy with its vast galaxy of distraction, from the rigour required to code your first inevitably small achievements when learning to code for the first time.