Asides

Mastertronic tribute book Kickstarter goes live

The Mastertronic Archives

A project to produce books detailing the history of Mastertronic budget computer games has gone live on Kickstarter.

Founded in 1983 by Martin Alper, Frank Herman and Alan Sharam, British company Mastertronic went on to become one of the UK’s biggest home video game publishers of the 1980s.

The company’s marketing strategy of putting games on shelves at the low price of just £1.99, when most other games sold from £4.99, resulted in booming sales and massive profits for the London-based company.

The Kickstarter appeal aims to produce both a standard volume and an enhanced collector’s volume detailing the history of these games.

The project is being organised by publishers Player One Books of Canberra, Australia. The books are unofficial publications.

Standard edition

First up is the Standard Edition 256 page hardcover book covering all of the Mastertronic £1.99 releases including game reviews, game credits, screen shots, cover images and more.

Collector’s Edition

The special 512 page Collector’s Edition includes everything in the Standard Edition, PLUS an additional 256 pages featuring game reviews, game credits, screen shots, cover images and more of the other Mastertronic labels such as M.A.D., Americana, Rebound, Rack-It, etc PLUS the unique disk releases.

“199 RANGE” limited collector’s edition

The “199 Range” Limited Collector’s Edition pledge includes the “199 Range” 512 page Collector’s Edition featuring a unique cover design, PLUS a signed and numbered “199 Range” bookplate, PLUS a 128 page Cover Art Gallery book featuring a range of game covers including commentary by select original cover artists, PLUS a limited edition “199 Range” USB cassette, featuring a custom “199 Range” inspired hand numbered inlay, and containing a 512 page PDF copy of the The Mastertronic Archives Collector’s Edition, and a 128 page PDF copy of the cover gallery book PLUS a set of limited edition postcards.

Funding options are shown in Australian dollars on the Kickstarter site, not to be confused with US dollars.

Around the globe

UK and EU backers: Books will be shipped from within the UK to minimise shipping costs and delivery times.  North America backers: Books will be shipped from within North America to minimise shipping costs and delivery times.  Australian backers: Books will be shipped from within Australia to minimise shipping costs and delivery times.

Further details

For further details of the books and other aspects of the project, including perks and current funding status, check out the Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/15723376/the-mastertronic-archives

As well as the Kickstarter, Player One Books can also be contacted via Twitter: https://twitter.com/player1books

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New Retro Computer Facebook group launched

New Retro Computer Facebook group launched

The new Retro Computer Clinic Facebook group - click to enlarge
The new Retro Computer Clinic Facebook group – click to enlarge

A new Facebook group for retro computing enthusiasts has been launched.

The group, which will be of particular interest to anyone looking for new hardware add-ons, repair service and general advice, has been dubbed the ‘Retro Computer Clinic’ and is aimed at users of classic Sinclair, Commodore, Amstrad, Atari , Sega, Nintendo and similar retro computing systems and consoles.

The Retro Computer Clinic group is intended to, amongst other things, offer “…a group where we are all free to discuss our passions, free from politics.  A place where we can share our stuff in a safe and mutually respectful environment.”

The buying and selling of retro goodies and services will be permitted from day one, and the wide discussion of topics including DIY repairs, restoration, expansions and retro computing/console gear in general is encouraged.

INVITATION

Admins Mark Payne and Ash Evans are in the process of inviting as many experts (both professional and amateur), enthusiasts and hobbyists as they can to get the new virtual meeting place humming – and all are welcome.

Potential group members can sign up at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/478461635673192/

 

New Oliver Twins video interview

New Oliver Twins video interview

Working on the Viva Computer project
Working on the Viva Computer project

The Centre for Computing History has posted a new video on YouTube  from the Cambridge, England museum’s  Heritage Lottery funded Viva Computer project.

In the video, Andrew Oliver (seen below) talks about the early days when he and his brother became legendary UK games programmers and pioneers in the 1980s. They became known to their legion of fans simply as The Oliver Twins, and decades later are still active today in the industry and the retro community.

Andrew Oliver speaks
Andrew Oliver speaks

At around the age of 12 the twins began their careers writing games for the UK games market, including the highly regarded Dizzy franchise, which is still popular with retro computing fans today.

In 1990 they founded Blitz Games Studios which at its height employed 235 people.

In 2013 they set up a new studio called Radiant Worlds along with their long term friend Richard Smithies, focusing on games as a service.

The new video can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/z1EzM4OgxZY

Images courtesy the Centre for Computing History.

New Atari forum opens online

New Atari forum opens online

Atari Boards
Click to enlarge

A new forum for fans of classic Atari home computers and consoles has opened online – Atari Boards.

The discussion group’s primary focus is retro Atari 8-bit, but 16-bit and games consoles can all be discussed, with forums covering all of these plus relevant hardware, software, manuals and guides.

There is also scope for wider computing and gaming topics, including custom builds, arcade, Mame and jukebox/video dedicated systems – and more general topics.

For full details and to sign up, see:

http://atari.boards.net/

Raspberry Pi impersonates PDP-8 at Irish museum

Raspberry Pi impersonates PDP-8 at Irish museum

Pat Moran demonstrating the Pi-based Minicomputer

Pat Moran demonstrating the Pi-based Minicomputer

One of the early 21st century’s smallest computers has been turned into a 1970s minicomputer and shown off at a museum in Galway, Ireland.

Pat Moran, of the Board of the Computer and Communications Museum of Ireland – CCMI, has demonstrated, at a museum public exhibit, a PDP-8 simulator based on the credit-card sized ARM-based Raspberry Pi, the English-designed and Welsh-made spiritual descendant of the BBC Micro.

The real thing - a PDP-8 in operation
The real thing – a PDP-8 in operation

Pat previously worked in the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) plant in Galway city where these refrigerator-sized 12-bit minicomputers were manufactured until production ceased in 1979.

The simulator uses a miniaturised version of the famous flashing lights and switches on the front of these much larger, yet less powerful, computers, which put a smile on many of the former DEC employees and users of PDPs that attended the show.

Computer and Communications Museum of Ireland logo

For more information on the Museum, which is located at the Insight Centre For Data Analytics, IDA Business Park, Lower Dangan, Galway, Ireland, check out their website or their Facebook page.

 

News and museum images courtesy the Computer and Communications Museum of Ireland - CCMI

Fun with terrible old games in Cambridge!

Fun with terrible old games in Cambridge!

Terrible Old Games With Ashens poster
Click to enlarge

Like movies, some video games are so bad that they’ve become cult classics, or at least a legend in their own lunchtime.  For every great game there are always several awful games that balance things out in the gaming Universe.

So it’s great that some of these classic clunkers are getting their own back towards the end of this month, when you’ll be able to roll up at the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge, England, where you’ll be joined by enthusiastic volunteer staff and celebrity Youtuber and author of ‘Terrible Old Games You’ve Probably Never Heard Of’ Stuart Ashen, when the museum is “…putting on an exhibition of some of those forgotten stinkers.”

Just for fun, the Centre is dedicating an entire day to “…the games that wasted our time, effort and hard earned pocket money as kids and the games that we never played because they scored so low in gaming magazines that… well why would we?”

So come along and re-live the agony of playing some of those terrible old games that you threw in the bin or returned to WH Smiths as a kid. Stuart will be hanging out at the museum for most of the day if you’d like to meet him or to get anything signed.

Tea, coffee and snacks will be available from the Pac Lunch Shop.

Normal museum entry fees apply. Booking is not essential, but if demand is high priority will be given to those who have booked in advance.

Date : 23 January 2016
Time : 10:00am – 5:00pm

Further details:

http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/40121/Terrible-Old-Games-with-Ashens/

New film being made for Sinclair Spectrum fans

Memoirs of a Spectrum Addict banner

Filming is under way for a new documentary,  Memoirs of a Spectrum Addict, a full length feature film (120-180 minutes, est.) which is aiming to take a detailed look at the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, its history, its developers, its games and its fans.

The movie, helmed by author, teacher and filmmaker Andy Remic, has been crowdfunded via a KickStarter campaign, and Mr Remic says:

“It will be a unique tribute to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and have dramatic re-enactments, interviews with industry figures and people who grew up influenced by the Spectrum.”

Andy Remic - author, teacher and filmmaker
Andy Remic – author, teacher and filmmaker (pic Andy Remic)

Andy, who is from Lincoln, England, and is also a published fantasy and science fiction novelist, goes on:

“I’m making the film because, as one friend said, I am “a nerd” and an unashamed fanboy of the Speccy. It’s a not-for-profit film, and I’m making it with lots of love.”

Andy told Retro Computing News that he currently has such industry notables as Jon Ritman, Steve Wetherill, Jas Austin, Oliver Frey, Roger Kean, Simon Butler, Ben Daglish, Mev Dinc and John Romero signed up for the project, with the list growing daily!

Trailer

Anyone interested in the project can view a trailer for the film at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/andyremic/spectrum-addict-2015

Stills

Some early production stills are now online, and can be viewed via this link: Stills

For more info about the project and Andy Remic, check out

www.spectrumaddict.co.uk

www.andyremic.com