Pacific Tides
My name is Thomas Sturm and I'm a programmer, photographer and writer.

Now go outside and look at the sky.

Spectrum at 30

Here's my post for the 25th anniversary of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, which still covers most of my feelings about that machine.

30 years is a ridiculously long time in our fast-moving age. But I still remember the tactile experience of typing long Basic listings into the little rubber keyboard of my 16k Spectrum.

I remember the joy of having color and sound in a small computer on my desk - something not even possible with the Commodore PETs at the school lab. The exhilaration of Jetpac and Arcadia, the brain-teasing frustration of The Hobbit.

I remember the glimpses of the future through ambitious programs like Vu-3D and Ant Attack. The long hours learning Z80 assembly language in front of a flickery TV set, compiling long hex listings from assembly by hand.

I remember when I had set up the Speccy for the first time, standing in front of it in the evening and trying to understand how vast 16Kbyte of RAM was compared to the 1K ZX81.

The same feeling six months later when I had it upgraded to 48Kbyte.

Watching sine waves being plotted across its expansive 256 x 192 pixels of screen real estate. Over and over again.

The cool feeling of selling my very own designed games on hand-copied tapes to other kids in school.

I remember listening to the sounds of programs loading from tape. Being able to recognize certain data patterns at 1500 Baud - knowing what was loading without even looking at the screen.

This little machine formed me as a programmer more than any university course later on and even today I identify as a Spectrum guy whenever the early 1980s come up in tech discussions.

For a whole generation of mostly European programmers, the Speccy was - and still is - the origin of their craft.

© 1998 - 2022 Thomas Sturm