What is it all about, really, when you come down to it?

Before I go any further, I need to answer what would possess someone to write a blog about old computers (I prefer the term Retro of course)?  Two things happened recently that sparked this mad endevour.

While driving back from Sydney after New Years we stopped in Albury on the New South Wales border and I found myself in a newsagent where I saw something I never seen anywhere else before: a copy of Retro Gamer magazine, specifically Retro Gamer Collection – Issue 03.  I picked it up with mild interest thinking it was ‘kinda cool’, but was soon sucked in when I saw it had not only a full retrospective on the BBC Micro, including a two page spread of glorious screenshots of fondly remembered games, but there was a full article on the game ‘Elite‘ by David Braben and Ian Bell.

With a long drive still ahead with my wife at the wheel, I had no choice but to buy it …

I won’t get started on Elite right now, but for anyone who saw that game at the time, it was like how it must have felt watching the first television – you knew the world was never going to be the same again.  It was sad to note in the article that the two authors had a disagreement over some aspect of their collaboration and they have not spoken to each other since.

It was a great magazine and I read it cover to cover, squirming with delight in the nostalgic ooze.  Can’t believe I found it (and the current normal monthly issue of the same mag) in Albury.  Maybe there is a secret retro gaming community out there in the parched lands of the Australian countryside.  Maybe the Playstation hasn’t reached them yet so technically it isn’t actually retro, and they are trying to find out where they can buy this great new game called ‘Manic Miner‘?  Who knows …

So that piqued my interest again (which honestly, had never gone away, but I never had time to really act upon it), and I planned to dig out the old BBC Micro from my parents as soon as I got home, where it had lain dormant since about the time I get my first Windows PC in 1991.  Actually, it wasn’t really a Windows PC as even though it had Windows 3.0 or 3.1 on it, I never bothered using it because all the programs we had ran under DOS so there was no real point, and with only 1Mb of RAM to play with, was a waste of space.  I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide whether that still holds true today …

My wife and I were starting to look for a house around this time.  We had been renting for ages in a place we really loved, but with a baby on the way and a rent hike coming up we thought we might start looking around.

It didn’t take too long before we came across something that ticked all the boxes, or at least the sensible ones.  The ‘leafy beachside suburb’ and ‘walking distance to absolutely everything we could possibly need’ boxes were still empty, but we all have to make sacrifices.

It did have an unexpected bonus – a rather nice garage in the backyard, with a roller door and also a normal door next to it.  And this wasn’t a shitty garage full of spiders and years of grease and exhaust grime.  Instead it had carpet and a pool table.  Exactly the sort of place I could setup a sweet music system using the leftovers from my frequent hifi upgrades, along with a bar fridge, an old couch and the other bits and pieces a bloke needs to have a home away from home.

And I could still roll the beemer in to play around with it.  I’m thinking of upgrading the speakers to this one day.  If it ever happens I write something about it.

And, I soon twigged that I could setup the Loewe widescreen TV currently taking up space in the spare bedroom and hook up the Beeb to it – and leave it setup ready to use any time!  How cool would that be?

An offer was soon made and accepted.  Finance is being a bitch at the moment though, but we have been granted an extension so fingers crossed …

While we played the waiting game, we made the trip to my parents one sunny Sunday afternoon to see if any of my memories were still intact.


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