Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Logan Collection

No, it's not my range of fresh and exciting fashion (those who know me would guffaw at the very thought!) but my small collection of retro computers. It's not a patch on many people's, of course, but it is perhaps a little bit different from the mainstream: no Spectrum, no Commodore, no SNES or Mega Drive. Leaving out the GP2X for a minute (it's pushing it to call it retro, even with all those emulators!) I have this little lot:

Sinclair ZX81

More exclusive than the Spectrum, but without the insane price tag of the ZX80. It has a Sinclair 16K RAM Pack, though the machine is currently awaiting mechanical attention. (A new bit of Blu-Tack.) A ZX81, though not this ZX81, was the first computer I ever had at home, back in 1983. This one's otherwise in fairly good shape, and hasn't got the deep depressions on the cursor keys (well, 5, 6, 7 & 8) that so many other ZX81s develop after years of enthusiastic game-playing. I have no software for it, though.

Dragon 32

The story behind its acquisition is slightly odd: I bought it for what was then (and would be now) a steep £40 in a junk shop called "Granny's Attic" near Lancaster railway station. Having done so, I stuffed it into one of those platform coin-operated left luggage lockers that briefly existed during the first, abortive IRA ceasefire (1994-5) and went off to explore Lancaster. About which I remember nothing at all. The 1 key needs a very hard push, but otherwise it's fine, and I have the manual and a couple of joysticks, plus a few tapes.

BBC Micro Model B+ 64K

This is by far my favourite computer. I bought it for £15 from an Atari(!) user group stand at the All Formats Computer Fair at Bingley Hall, Stafford in 1996. Contrary to what a surprising number of sources claim, it's perfectly possible to play disk Elite on a B+ with minimal fiddling. That said, I'm a racing-game fan and so Revs (by Sir Geoff Crammond, of course) claims first place. I have a twin Watford Electronics switchable 40/80-track drive for the Beeb, which weighs about a quarter of a ton...

Amstrad PCW8256

I think this still works, but it's been buried in a cupboard for years now. This green-screen lump was sold mostly as a word processor, but was actually a capable computer thanks to Amstrad's decision to bundle CP/M Plus with it. I first played Head Over Heels on one of these, you know! The PCW's 90x32 character screen made it great for text stuff, though it was a right pain to access the high-resolution line graphics. Anyone else remember 8000 Plus magazine, with its covers that featured Fruit & Nut bars?

Psion Series 5

Not the higher-specced 5MX -- I couldn't afford one of those -- but the original 1997 model. I still use this semi-seriously for making notes when I'm on the bus or something, as the slide-out keyboard is still very good. I even have an XT emulator, so I can do my typing in WordStar if the mood really takes me! There's a case for saying that the Series 5 was the last truly new, truly British micro ever made, and it really has only two faults: one, the screen is disappointingly dingy; and two, a design fault with the hinges means that screen may eventually fail. On the plus side, it runs for ages on two AA batteries.

Amstrad NC100

Unfortunately this one is on its way out, I think, but I like it even so. A simple to use A4-sized notebook with a decent keyboard that runs for hours and hours on four AA batteries (I do like my AA-powered machines!) and incorporates the Protext word processor, BBC BASIC (Z80 version) and an RS232 serial port. Plus some other PDA-type stuff, but I don't really care about that; I'm interested in the Amstrad as a computer!

Nintendo Game Boy

The original, chunky, monochrome version. Aside from an ancient black-and-white Tandy thing my family had in about 1485, this is the only true console I'd ever owned before buying the GP2X. It's rather temperamental these days, but with some vigorous blowing on the contacts it's still possible to fire up The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening which remains one of my all-time favourite games.

No comments:

Post a Comment