October 12, 2009
My first computer was a ZX81, so MicroMen on BBC4 was a powerful blast of nostalgia for the early 80s. Funny, sad and exhilarating – the Acorn hack against the clock to build the BBC prototype was fantastic, and the Clive Sinclair Mensa sequence is hysterical. I was an undergrad at Cambridge in the late eighties, so I was pleased to see them get loads of detail right: the Baron of Beef pub, the Computer lab. I used to see Sinclair jogging on the Madingley Road on the rare occasions I was out and about before midday…
I built my ZX81 from a kit. I later added all kinds of peripherals, including a real keyboard and 16K RAM pack. Another great point of detail in MicroMen was the reference to the dreaded RAM pack wobble that afflicted ZX81s. After the ZX81, I went on to a Camputers Lynx, also mentioned in MicroMen, and then an Atari 520 that I took to college in 86.