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The History of 8bit Gaming in the UK » Blog Archive » Popular Computing Weekly 25-31 Oct 1984


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Popular Computing Weekly 25-31 Oct 1984

128K Machine planned by CBM

COMMODORE is working on a new up-market home micro, intended as a direct competitor for the Sinclair QL.

The machine, called the C128, is based on the 8-bit 6502 processor with 128K Ram and a built-in disc drive.

Unlike the 68008 used in the QL which can address 128K of continuous memory, the 6502 can only address a maximum of 64K at on time. With the C128 Commodore gets around this problem by arrannging the 128K in two 64K banks either of which can be switched in as required.

When the C128 is first turned on the machine behaves as an ordinary Commodore 64 and is fully compatible with existing C64 software. Hitting a function key swaps to the other 64K Ram giving access to Basic 3.5, the same version of Basic as that offered on the new Plus/4 machine, and an 80-column display.

The C128 is likely to be previewed at the January Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Also included is Econet software and the word-processor

Acorn’s ABC prices

ACORN’S new ABC range of microcomputers, previewed at this year’s Personal Computer World Show, will kick-off at £700, rising to £4,000 for the top-of-the-range machine.

For £700 you get the Personal Assistant, technically similar to a BBC machine with a built-in 12 inch black-and-white monitor and single 640K disc drive. Also included is Econet software and the word-processor and spreadsheet packages View and Viewsheet. The Personal Assistant is fully expandable to the top of the ABC range.

The £700 tag will make the Personal Assistant attractive to anyone considering assembling a similar system around a BBC machine.

The flagship of the new range — the ABC310 — will sell for £4,000 with a colour monitor and additional 80286 IBM- compatible second processor, 10M hard disc and a selection of bundled software.

Frankie steps in

FRANKIE Goes to Hollywood, the top selling pop group with records like Relax and Two Tribes, are to have a computer program written for them by Ocean Software.

According to Ocean’s software development manager the Frankie program is currently at an advanced stage of development: “It will take the form of an arcade-style game featuring members of the band as characters within it,” he said.

A spokesman for Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s record company ZTT refused, however, to confirm the existence of the Frankie computer game: “We have nothing to say to your magazine, whatsoever,” he said.

Ocean has in the past been involved in a number of joint ventures linking well-known figures to computer games, most notably Daley Thompson for Daley Thompson’s Decathlon

Dragon games row

A ROW has broken out between Dragon software house Impsoft and Touche Ross, solicitors acting as receiver for the failed micro manufacturer Dragon Data.

Touche Ross is refusing to pay the company any royalties on Impsoft’s Fruity title originally marketed by Dragon Data and now being sold by Touchmaster.

Touchmaster — the new company formed by former Dragon chiefs Brian Moore and Richard Wadman after the Dragon collapse — purchased quantities of Dragon Data software from receivers Touche Ross which it is now selling off at a hefty discount.

“Yet we will see no royalty payment from our title because Touche Ross is claiming that the software sold to Touclunaster was ‘distressed stock’. Our Fruity title which retailed under Dragon Data for £7.95 is now being sold off for £3.95,” explained Impsoft’s Norman Silver.

“We have instructed our solicitors to clarify our position and we intend to pursue the matter vigorously.”

Big-name tape deal

A NEW company, Computer Records has released two impressive software compilation tapes
Each of the two tapes - one for the 48K Spectrum and one for the Commodore 64 - contains twelve titles and will retail for £12.99

The two compilation tapes are as follows.

Spectrum: Hunchback, Mr Wimpy and Transversion from Ocean; Space Intruders, Meteor Storm and Time Gate from Quicksilva; Kong, Missile Defence, and Moorzbuggy from Anirog; Pool and Spectres from Bug-Byte; and Dennis Through the Drinking Glass from Applications.

Commodore 64: Hunchback and Mr Wimpy from Ocean; Galaxy, Kong, Hexpert, Skramble, Moon Buggy, Cosmic Commando and Star Base Defence from Anirog; Ring of Power and Purple Turtles from Quicksilva and Dennis Through the Drinking Glass.

Computer Records is an associate company of Telstar Records.

More budget games titles

SOFTWARE Projects — home of Miner Willy — has launched a range of budget-priced software titles under the label Software Super Savers.

Eight titles have so far been announced — all priced at £2.99 — for the Spectrum 48K, Flip Flap, Moonlighter, Shuttle Shock, Ziggurat and Fred’s Fan Factory on the Spectrum; California Gold Rush and Faces of Haarne on the Commodore 64 and Revenge of the Quadra on the Vic20.

Pirates get organised

GAMES software houses in the UK now believe that European commercial software pirates are becoming organised.

An International Cracking Agency is now apparently operating, based in Holland, the purpose of which is to circulate recognised software pirates with a ‘cracking’ disc of software and know-how designed to get round most commercial program protection techniques currently being used.

International organised piracy is now a widespread and serious problem: “It’s getting so bad that you can’t release a new title slowly through Europe — two weeks after the program is launched in the UK, pirated copies are available in a nurnber of other countries and you haven’t got any market left,” “If we could find out who is behind this. International Cracking Agency they’d be in the Thames with a set of concrete wellies,” he added

PCS folds

PCS — at one time the largest UK software distributor - folded last week.

The collapse, emphasising the depth of the summer slump in the industry, will not make life easier for many of the troubled software houses. PCS still owes over £60.000 mainly to software companies who will now have little hope of recovering the money.

Software movies now from the US

THE IDEA of linking a computer program to an audio tape, first seen in this country with Automata’s Deus Ex Machina, is being developed by a number of companies.

Unlike the Automata program, most of the other packages are designed for the educational market where the audio tape contains a spoken commentary on the computer pictures and invites children to answer questions.

American software house Maximus has produced Software Movies aimed at the four to eight age range. The packages, for the Commodore 64 consist of program disc and audio tape. After the program is loaded the tape is played and linked to the computer by pressing the space bar.
Speech on the audio track is matched to the lip movement of a cat called Max.

A Kenilworth-based company, Softlee Systems, is using a similar system on its range of Spectrum educational software. Its three programs, A Day at the Seaside, A Picnic in the Park, and Jo Visits the Farm, all teach simple spelling by associating simple spoken words with pictures.

Computer and hi-fi or headphones are linked via a simple lead. This system uses the spare channel on the stereo cassette tape to carry the spoken words but requires the child to stop and start the tape between questions. The price for the tapes is £9.75 each with the lead costing £1.95. More details from Softlee Systems, Freepost, Kenilworth, Warwickshire.

The Maximus Software Movies are not yet available in this country, but the company can be contacted at 6723 Whittier Avenue, McLean, Virginia 22121, USA.

Christmas micro show scrapped

THE YOUR Computer Christmas Computer Fair has been cancelled.

The fair was to have been held at Olympia on November 30-31.”We felt that the day of the computer show as an end user’s buying extravaganza are over,” explained a spokesman for the magazine sponsoring the show, Your Computer.”No doubt it would have been attended by large numbers of people but it probably wouldn’t have made money for the software houses attending,” he added.

Thirty-eight companies had booked to attend the show when the decision to cancel was made but, of the major microcomputer manufacturers — Sinclair, Commodore, Acorn, Oric, the MSX companies and Amstrad — only the latter had agreed to exhibit.

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