[ExI] sinclair zx spectruim is 30

Tomasz Rola rtomek at ceti.pl
Sun Apr 29 16:25:00 UTC 2012

On Tue, 24 Apr 2012, Anders Sandberg wrote:

> On 24/04/2012 18:43, spike wrote:
> >
> > Guys do you remember these?
> >
> Oh yes... this is how I spent the 80s, more or less.
> I need to send a congratulation card to my speccy. It is nicely packaged next
> to my ZX81 up in Stockholm.

As an adolescent, I wanted to have a relationship with Spectrum. However, 
I ended up jumping from one computer to another, learning things in a 
process. By the time I settled with Amiga few years later, I had already 
known three and a half programming languages (and heard this or that of 
few others). Paradoxically, having my own hardware dumbed me down :-). And 
this state of mind persisted up to these days.

BTW, Commodore PET turned 35 in January and Amiga 1000 will turn 27 in 

One thing I like about old machines is that they were selfsufficient. They 
came with tools, so every owner could plug them to the wall and start 
writing software for himself.

Nowadays - Arduinos, which are barely comparable to various ZX models, 
but with pitiful amounts of RAM... Ip(h|)(a|o)(d|ne)s, with no onboard 
compilers nor interpreters at all... Cellphones, at least, have one
limited Java version - but, well, for me it is twelve years or more since 
Java stopped being sexy. OTOH, it is better to have it than to have not.

Fortunately, PC is still in use. And Android tablet can be supplied with 
keyboard, so at least in theory it can be converted into normal computing 
device, capable of serving its own needs. And if I really wanted, I can 
have something more hardcore, like BeagleBone (but I don't think it could 
be bootstrapped without PC).

> The wonder of the machine was that it was graspable: all aspects were more or
> less known, from the hardware over the assembler to the limited operating
> system. One could in principle understand it completely, no aspects were
> secret or inaccessible.

I read this about every older computer from time to time. Some of them 
have been first programmed by some legendary engineers, who sat in front 
of the panel and typed in hex or binary from their memory.

A similar contemporary effort is, for example, Scheme-from-scratch:


Note the guy advises using DOSemu for DOS thing, because under newer 
Windows one supposedly couldn't do such interesting operation as entering 
raw bytes.

> This kind of machine made you very aware of the importance of optimizing code.
> Kids today don't know how good they have it and waste so much resources...

While reading Jon Bentley's "Programming Pearls" some 15 y ago, he made 
one fancy remark, something like "today, people say like, one megabyte 
here, one there and now we can write a program". It is "gigabyte there, 
gigabyte here" nowadays. 

Weeeell. I sure can find a good use for a gigabyte. And I won't mind a 
terabyte a bit later. And while most programmers are spoilt by "free" 
resources, there are some who enjoy optimising, so let's not worry too 
much. After all, there are only 10 kinds of programmers and the zero kind 
is still possible to be found.

Tomasz Rola

** A C programmer asked whether computer had Buddha's nature.      **
** As the answer, master did "rm -rif" on the programmer's home    **
** directory. And then the C programmer became enlightened...      **
**                                                                 **
** Tomasz Rola          mailto:tomasz_rola at bigfoot.com             **

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