Nostalgia software: Sir Clive goes crowdfunding to get out his second Vega console
via Flickr © DaveOnFlickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Last year Sir Clive Sinclair popped up after what seems like a long absence and announced a crowdfunding target for a little console he was orchestrating which could play all those old Sinclair Spectrum games from days of yore.
The funding was a success, Sir Clive hit his target in 3 days and the companies involved produced the Vega console to wide acclaim. Now he’s back and aiming for a follow-up with the Vega+ and, his always well-oiled publicity machine claims, he’s hit his 48 hour target of £100,000 meaning the Vega+ is on its way.
It’s just like the old days, with one product following rapidly on the heels of the one before.
While our American friends were mostly clacking away on their Commodore 64s and Ataris we in the UK were squeezing characters out of the ZX Spectrum (available in any colour as long as it was black) via its weird rubber keyboard, and uploading games from cassette tapes.
Versions of the Spectrum and its predecessor the ZX81 (even smaller and cheaper) travelled round the world, but it was in the UK where it arguably had its most significant impact. It was crude and plasticy, but we loved the challenge. And it was, above all, cheap and accessible, arriving in the shops in 1982 for just £125, with 16 Kbytes of RAM, (48 Kbytes if you wanted to splash out £175).
In fact for the price it was a winner. Bear in mind that at the same time Steve Jobs was equipping the Apple II with 48K, so the Spectrum, it was agreed at the time, had enough horsepower to play some remarkably compulsive games on a standard TV set. That was the winning proposition - games.
With the Spectrum in the shops, home computing suddenly became the ‘big thing’ and by Christmas 1982 the units were rolling off the shelves. Home/hobby computing had gone the 1980s equivalent of ‘viral’.
Just to give a flavour of the times, London taxi drivers - more so than in these Uberised days - would usually engage in extended conversation and they would ask what you did. If and when I said I wrote about computers I would be told that his nephew/son (always the boys, of course) wanted one for Christmas and which one would I recommend.
Obvious answer - the Spectrum. Can’t go wrong. Cheap, has the most games.
Little surprise then that boys (and girls) of a certain age fondly remember those days and, as important, those games. Like the old children's’ books our mothers always keep, the Spectrum involves a journey back in time.
The Vega+ comes complete with 1,000 licensed games built-in and even has LCD for use use ‘on the go’. And there’s more free games available online - 14,000 or so, says the blurb, developed during the years when some 5 million of the original Sinclair Spectrum were being sold.
Like the old Spectrum itself, the Vega+ will be available online or on the high street from around £100.