Sunday, 7 January 2007

R Tape Loading Error, 0:1

via Dizzy I found this website. I think that is all there is, but it made me laugh. In fact it's a myth that you'd load something for 15 minutes on a Spectrum and then it would trump your expectations with this oft-seen message. In the classic Speccy age (ie before Amstrad took over Sinclair) the 48K games generally took less than 10 minutes to load and many only a couple of minutes (less than it takes my pc to wheeze Age of Empires into gear). A brilliant game like Horace Goes Skiing took hardly any time at all and was extremely reliable. Of course it wasn't the games that were the problem, but the cable-connected tape recorder which sometimes had to be propped up, or the cables sellotaped in. It was really later, when the redesigned (and much less sexy) Amstrad Spectrums (or should that be Spectra) had built in tape decks and 128K that games could take the thick end of 20 minutes to load.

The point for me about the Sinclair ZX Spectrum for me was this: it was an idiosyncratic little thing, beautiful in its own way but quite hard to use (a clumsy 8 year old like me was no good with the rubber keys). The error messages like the famous one above were masterpieces of stubborn understatement, often insistently cropping up at the least appropriate moment. You couldn't type rude messages onto it because the keys always printed command words at the beginning of a line, which was a shame but it made writing (or in my case mostly copying out) BASIC programs easier. Even the data systems were idiosyncratic, like the microdrive, which I never had but always wanted: whatever else it may have been it was sexy and fitted the computer's design well. Its graphics were poor compared to the C64 and the Amstrad CPC464, but I always felt a little...underwhelmed using these devices. They lacked a joie de vivre that the Speccy made its own.

At least you got error messages regularly with a Spectrum: my pc just freezes or restarts with no warning at all most of the time and you've no idea what's gone wrong.

3 comments:

dizzy said...

glad you enjoyed it. I had a ZX81 first with it's whopping 16K and B7W console output. I remeber when we got the Spectrum 48K and we started to play Matchpoint and Jet Set Willy. Those were the days when gameplay was what mattered, not graphics.

james higham said...

You've lost me on this one, TD. Is it Chinese you're writing?

The Tin Drummer said...

you've never heard of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, coolest home computer of the 1980s? gee did you miss out!