ZX81 Digital Rain: A Retro Display of the Matrix Code

Step back in time to the 80s and experience the iconic digital rain on your ZX81!

The holiday's provided me a nice break to enjoy writing code. During that time, I revisited my digital rain program. For ZX81 Rain, I cleaned up the colors and added a little randomness to where the drops start. Nothing super exciting, but the overall effect is much nicer and looked good in both black/white and color on the ZX81.

# Adding some random interest.

ZX81 Rain is a further refinement of my z80 Rain. For normal ZX81 users you'll notice the drops start at random locations in the top half of the screen. This, of course, carries over to Chroma as well. But as the ZX81 was monochrome, I couldn’t change up the colors. I thought about inverting the screen or the first drop again, but visually this version looked good enough.

ZX81 Rain, Monochrome ZX81 Screenshot, 2023 by Steven ReidZX81 Rain, Monochrome ZX81 Screenshot, 2023 by Steven Reid

# Just a shade more color.

For Chroma users, it adds different drop shades that are closer to the original. In the original version, I just had bright green rain with a white leading drop. In that version, I used cyan as a touch of color change. That didn’t look as good I hoped.

For this version, I shifted to using a darker green for the rain. This allowed me to swap in the bright green as the secondary color. To add to the effect, I could then use the same green after the leading white to add a bit more interest to the rain. Coupled with the new starting code, the final version of ZX81 Rain is quite striking.

ZX81 Rain, Chroma ZX81 Screenshot, 2023 by Steven ReidZX81 Rain, Chroma ZX81 Screenshot, 2023 by Steven Reid

# All done for now.

Given this version implements many of the features I had wanted to add in previous versions, I’m done. I decided that rain should land on ground and didn’t randomize the bottom pattern. Sure that I could tweak this to death, I’m going to leave well enough alone and call this one done.

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