Category Archives: Retro

Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Sinclair ZX81 with this multifunction-key-tastic T-shirt

Nearly half a century ago, Clive Sinclair’s Sinclair Research made history. It released the ZX81, one of the key home computers of the 1980s, as the first low-cost micro available to High Street shoppers. And you can express your love of early 80s tech with my latest retro-wear: the ZX81 keyboard shirt.

Modelled by yours truly
Continue reading

Phantom Slayer’s spooks get a shot of smarts

Phantom Slayer, the 1982 computer game I’ve restored on the Raspberry Pi Pico, has been updated to version 1.0.1 to give the titular spectres some extra smarts as they navigate the game maze in pursuit of the player.

Phantom Slayer's (slightly) smarter spooks
The Phantoms: certainly smarter — also more scary?
Continue reading

Enjoy some old school 3D arcade action — courtesy of the Raspberry Pi Pico

In the mid-1980s, I loved Phantom Slayer. Written for the Tandy Color Computer and made available for the Dragon 32, Phantom Slayer was a 3D maze shooter. Think a very basic version of Doom with colours but no textures. It wasn’t sophisticated, but it was quick and, more to the point, incredibly atmospheric.

The Pi Pico version of Phantom Slayer
Do you have what it takes to face down the Phantoms?
Continue reading

Review: King’s Reach — comics chieftain John Sanders’ marvellous memoir of the Ministry of Magazines

Periodical publishing is not what it was. Gone are the days when week in, week out millions of adults and kids would buy magazines or comics and spend time reading them. We will not see their like. Now it’s all about screens, not paper, and grabbing digests of information fed from social media streams. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, just that, in the digital era, no one will ever feel the almost physical thrill of taking possession of the latest issue of a favourite title — or be eager to understand what makes the minds behind it tick.

John Sanders' memoir, King's Reach
Send him to the Tower…
Continue reading

smittytone’s Retro Tech T-shirts are available now

Announcing the results of a small side-project I’ve been working on for a couple of months: my retro tech T-shirt shop is now open.

If you have an interest in the early years of microcomputing, head over to my Red Bubble store and check out the available apparel. Here’s a small selection:

ss
Continue reading

smittytone’s Retro Tech T-shirts are available now

Announcing the results of a small side-project I’ve been working on for a couple of months: my retro tech T-shirt shop is now open.

If you have an interest in the early years of microcomputing, head over to my Red Bubble store and check out the available apparel. Here’s a small selection:

ss

Continue reading

The Sinclair ZX81: a Raspberry Pi retro restyle – Part 2

Check out my retro tech T-shirt store

Previously on ‘ZX81: a Raspberry Pi retro restyle’: I used a headerless Arduino Leonardo to connect a ZX81 microcomputer keyboard to a Raspberry Pi via USB, using code to handle normal, shifted and function-shifted key presses.

After some searching on eBay, I found an old ZX81 going cheap because it lacked cables, though when it arrived, I found the computer itself to be in excellent condition. Possibly it has never been used, though how if that were the case the cables were lost and the box got so tatty is a mystery I will probably never solve.

Continue reading

The Sinclair ZX81: a Raspberry Pi retro restyle – Part 1

Check out my retro tech T-shirt store

I love the design of the Sinclair ZX81. It was never a great computer, even in 1981. It only had 1KB of on-board RAM, it was slow, it was small, it could only do black and white graphics, and it’s membrane keyboard was useless for fast typing. But it looked fantastic: black, sleek and totally futuristic. Almost all other 1980s microcomputers now look very dated. No surprise there, of course, but the ZX81 still looks amazing.

The ZX81 membrane keyboard
The ZX81 keyboard hooked up to the Pi via USB and Arduino
Continue reading