15)Your Letters: Software sharks; ZX snatcher Thatcher, teachers’ Pets, Basic blunders; how to be Saved
16)News: Sord’s new £100 micro; Epson’s portable; Oric plugs in with £60 modem; home doctor; disc drives galore.
19)Computer Club: Southampton rings the changes — Paul Bond finds something silicon lurking in the Gas Board.
22)Gunpowder Plotting:Introducing colour and 3D graphics for the Dragon, BBC, and Spectrum. Tim Langdell lights the blue touchpaper and retires.
28)Jupiter Ace: Breaking the Basic mould; we review Jupiter Cantab’s fast Forth micro.
32)Low-cost Printers: Can the Amber 2400, Model 81, and SP-42 take on a ZX Printer-type role for the BBC Micro, Dragon and Sinclair range?
36)Software Survey: Eric Deeson assesses the latest of the 1,000 cassettes available for the ZX-81.
38)Clive Sinclair Interview: Britain’s micro maestro gives Meirion Jones a glimpse of the shape of Sinclairs to come.
44)Vic Night Racer: Race through the darkened streets in your Vic with or without an expansion unit.
46)Dragon Artist: Composing masterpieces directly on screen.
The Sound of Micros: Music for Atoms, BBC Micros and Spectrums — try a few of your favourite themes.
60)Speak to your Spectrum: You do not have to be mad to shout instructions at your Spectrum.
64)ZX-81 Games Writing: Stuart Nicholls shows you how to write fast exciting games in 1K.
67)Vic Vector: Harness the Vic’s interrupt vector for fast graphics or input checking.
72)Teletext Editor: Martin Glass makes many word processor features available on the BBC Micro.
76)ZX-81 Toolkit: More than a dozen utilities to help you get the best out of your ZX-81.
83)ZX-81 Machine Code: Kathleen Peel adds command extensions to your repertoire.
88)Handicapped Competition: A rubber bulb is one of your simple but effective ideas which could help the disabled to use microcomputers.
91)Basic Dictionary: Another page of Tony Edwards’ Basic lexicon.
93)Response Frame: Your technical queries answered.
95)Fingertips: Our pocket computer and calculator column.
99)Software File: Now 10 pages packed with Dragon, BBC, Vic, and ZX programs amongst others.
Atom Squash (Atom)
Pascal Functions (MZ-80K)
Graph Screen (Vic-20)
Line Drawing (TI-99/4)
Program Name (ZX-81)
Spiral Clear (ZX-81)
Double Height (Spectrum)
Magic Circle (Dragon)
113)Competition Corner: The result of September’s Jailbreak and a new £15 puzzle — Cat-fighter. Jupiter Ace cross¬word falls between pages 18 and 19.
Cover photograph by Stephen Oliver.
“Have you finished your homework yet?”. It is half past eight as Mrs Smith calls up to her son for the fifth time that evening. As soon as he arrives home from school, he shuts himself away in his room which flickers blue as his ZX-81 sluggishly accepts lines of Basic. Still, she reassures herself, he will soon grow out of it. Last year it was Rubik’s cube; next year it will be something different. It is just another one of his fads.
But is home computing just another fad? It is impossible to say exactly how many of the half million ZX-81s sold world-wide are already gathering dust beside the skateboards and Kung Fu magazines. But what is clear is that falling prices have turned home computers into disposable consumer products. If your foray into computing has cost you only £50, you can abandon it with greater equanimity than if you had spent £300.
Nevertheless the parallel between the home computer and the likes of the Hoolahoop breaks down because the micro represents the domestic face of a technology which will pervade our society for many years to come. Unfortunately the aspect of computing which, month after month, will continue to be subject to the whims of fashion is exactly what you use your machine for. We have already seen Pac-Man succeed Space Invaders as the vogue game, in the same way that Space Invaders pushed out the ball and paddle games before it. The original spur for many who decided to buy a computer was that they could save their money from the insatiable appetites of arcade machines by playing the games at home on their own micros. Consequently this has meant that the investment behind the development of the latest arcade games forces home-computer software houses to follow in their path.
Only when new applications are designed specifically to take advantage of the micro’s facilities will they be able to cast off their role of dedicated followers of the fashions of other and sometimes older technologies and applications. Once software suppliers overcome the limitations of existing computer languages and, more importantly, start using their imaginations the home computer will come into its own. If this is done home computing may still be a fad but it should be good at least to the end of the century.