ZX81 Computer


Showcasing monthly programs, a retro look at my my first computer., Page 3
Bugers Will Kill You in October's ZX81 Program of the Month

While working to improve the way I display my ZX81 programs, I ran across one that didnít have a picture. Finding that odd, I did some research and found that Iíd written a page for it back in 1999. To my surprise, Iíd never uploaded it. To rectify that oversight, I made Bugers this monthís program.

Posted Oct 25, 2016 by Steven 3 min read

Trail Blazer is my ZX81 Tribute to Tronís Light Cycles

One of the coolest movies when I was a young teenager was Disneyís Tron. What geeky kid didnít want to watch a movie about computers and video games? Sprinkle in some computer animation and how could I not fall in love. Needless to say, Tron was the inspiration for more than a few of my programs. Trail Blazer, Septemberís program of the month, is one of them. An homage to the light cycle segment, the goal is to crash your opponent first. But beware. All walls are deadly, including your own.

Posted Sep 18, 2016 by Steven 6 min read

Electon is Augustís ZX81 Program

I painted more borders on the ZX81 than just about any other shape. An easy way to confine movement, it shouldnít come as a surprise that Electon starts by building a box. And before you ask, this monthís ZX81 program isnít another version of snake. Instead, you use the Z, X, N, and M keys to move in an attempt to capture the Electon. Sounds easy? Better give it a try and see.

Posted Aug 22, 2016 by Steven 7 min read

3D Image is Julyís ZX81 Program

Not everything I wrote on the ZX81 was a game, although I did write a lot of those. In fact, some of my first computer programs did nothing more than print pictures. 3D Image, a badly named program, is one of my experiments in animation on the ZX81. Depicting a sun at the end of its life, itís an uses simple math to generate an image.

Posted Jul 20, 2016 by Steven 4 min read

Vargen Crown is Juneís ZX81 Program

ďJealous of Vargenís accomplishments, a rival kingdom has attacked and kidnapped your king. As head Knight, you mount a quest to return the King, hidden somewhere in the forest by his captors. But hurry! The King's ransom has a time limit. Can you find the King in time and restore the Vargen Crown?Ē Sounds great right? An adventure game set in a single screen. I had high hopes for Vargen Crown. Castles, keys, and puzzles, our program of the month covered the basics of adventure. Using just the ZX81 cursor keys, playing it will leave you unsatisfied and, I suspect, quite frustrated. Itís too bad as the game has a decent look to it. I chalk it up to being a young programmer, but that's not an excuse. Still interested? Letís dig in and see what makes this game tick.

Posted Jun 27, 2016 by Steven 9 min read

Up Is Down in Faller, Mayís ZX81 Program

Walls and creatures always make for a nice game and Faller, our program of the month, has both. It takes a bit of imagination, but watch the icky spider climb up the wall towards you. Their goal, of course, is to knock you off and claim the wall for themselves. Like any good hero, you sit at the top and move over the spiders using Z and .. But be quick and knock them off using M to save the day. Just donít be a faller should you miss.

Posted May 21, 2016 by Steven 6 min read

ZX81 Website Makeover and Twitter Experiments

If you havenít visited in a while, you may notice that my ZX81 retro computer site is looking a bit different. Iíd been using newer, responsive themes, for almost a year now. Yet I was being selfish. The general population wasn't allowed to partake my fun. For the most part, this was due to me not feeling ready. The little bugs I saw prevented me from making progress. The coding perfectionist in me injected doubt†which translated into no fun for the masses. No longer.

Posted Apr 30, 2016 by Steven 3 min read

Laser Blast is Aprilís ZX81 Program of the Month

April is close to wrapping up and I was able to find time this weekend to type in another ZX81 game. Laser Blast, this monthís program, has you saving the world. Kind of clichť I know, but hey this was 1984. George Orwellís novel didnít come true, but at least we could blast alienís with lasers. Use the Z and . keys to move and M to shoot your ray of death. But beware. The alien has a guided missile and itís heading right for you.

Posted Apr 27, 2016 by Steven 9 min read

Computact is Marchís ZX81 Program

Ah, spring time. As winter melts away, the weather goes haywire and itís time to enjoy the bouts of sunshine, rain and the occasional thunderstorm of hail. Perhaps itís fitting that in the middle of this meteorological mayhem that Computact came back to life. An outwardly simple landing game that is almost impossible to play. No matter, it demonstrates some interesting use of ZX81 BASIC as Marchís Program of the month.

Posted Mar 22, 2016 by Steven 7 min read

Februaryís Program: Telaport

Digging through my listings, I struggled deciding what to offer for February. The first one I found was an adventure text game. Too close to last month's program, I decided against it for now. Further down in the stack, I found a code breaking program, but after entering it in I realized it needed work. The next program I pulled out, a graphic game called Teleportóignore that spelling for nowóended up being just right.

Posted Feb 27, 2016 by Steven 5 min read

Januaryís Program: Star Probe

Wow, 2016 and I'm still digging programs out of my stack of print outs. Kicking off the new year, I'm grabbing a story based program. I wrote Star Probe, our program of the month, in the style of a Chose Your Own Adventure bookóand yes, I actually owned most of them. Although you can only enter numbers, Star Probe is actually an example of interactive fiction. Though not as advanced as an Infocom game, Star Probe delivers an interesting, if short, story to the player. Before I spoil where I drew my inspiration, go play it. It will only take a few minutes. Just try to ignore the horrible grammar and spelling of a 14-year-old.

Posted Jan 26, 2016 by Steven 5 min read

Decemberís Program: Monkey Maze

Time to close out the year with another classic remaking. Back in 1983, I decided to try my hand at recreating Nintendoís fan favorite: Donkey Kong. My version, cryptically called Monkey Maze, is Decemberís Program of the Month. Not quite as complex as the original, my version has only a single board that you can navigate around using the ZX81 cursor keys (5,6,7 and 8 which map to left, down, up and right). It plays pretty well. Go give it a try, and avoid the barrels, if you can.

Posted Dec 29, 2015 by Steven 3 min read

Novemberís Program: Dragonís Lair

One of my favorite video games as a kid was a rather unlikely one. It wasnít the coolest graphics or excellent control. It was about story and animation. It was, of course, Dragonís Lair. The odd laser disc game by famed animator Don Bluth.

Posted Nov 29, 2015 by Steven 2 min read

Octoberís Program: The Haunting

It is Halloween and Octoberís Program of the Month is right on time. When I pulled the listing for The Haunting from my stack I knew it would be perfect. Although short, I knew Iíd be challenged as this program of the month requires something I hadnít needed before. That something was sound.

Posted Oct 31, 2015 by Steven 4 min read

Septemberís Program: Input Two

To my surprise, I was thumbing through my old printouts and discover that I actually wrote an Input Two program. I covered Input One as Marchís Program of the Month. For September, however, it is Input Twoís opportunity to shine.

Posted Sep 20, 2015 by Steven 2 min read

Encoding Update

Well, encoding issue is fixed. Sort of. After digging around I found that the routines in my CMS are forcing the use of ISO-8859-1 which makes it difficult to easily convert to UTF-8. It isnít impossible, but it isn't what I want to work on right now. Iím saving that exercise for another day.

Posted Aug 25, 2015 by Steven 1 min read

A Lesson in Encoding

Iím currently working on a responsive HTML5 template for my website. As much as I like the old one, it is starting to get a bit long in the tooth. Five years of life is a pretty good run, but it is time to get with the modern world full of mobile devices and tablets. Unfortunately, Iíve run into a bit of a pickle.

Posted Aug 23, 2015 by Steven 2 min read

Augustís Program: Canyon Raider

While reading through my old programming notebook last month, I wondered about using them on my website. From my earliest programming days, the notebook has a number of programs that never made it to my stack of printouts. Canyon Raider, Augustís program of the month, is one of those programs.

Posted Aug 22, 2015 by Steven 3 min read

Julyís Program: A Story

Julyís program is indicative of the BASIC programs youíd find in early programming manuals. Most books start out with pretty basic commands such as PRINT and INPUT. A Story mimics these early programs in a creative way. Similar to Mad Libs, you answer a series of questions and the program, well, tells you a story.

Posted Jul 23, 2015 by Steven 2 min read

Juneís Program: Fly

Fly is a simple program that, in the end, is both baffling and intriguing. Looking at first like a simple shooter, it acts very differently then one and, if you donít know the rules, will make you crazy. Once you do know how to play, though, Fly becomes simple and repetitive. Our Program of the Month shouldnít be in this place, but it is.

Posted Jun 28, 2015 by Steven 5 min read

Mayís Program: WIZERDRY

Okay, you may be wondering why there is a picture of an Apple II on a ZX81 site? Iíll start by saying that itís been a pretty busy May with lots of travel for both business and vacation. The picture is from the Smithsonian and it actually does relate to Mayís program of the month, Wizerdry. Yep, I spelled that wrong. I'll chalk it up to being young. Can you guess the tie yet?

Posted May 31, 2015 by Steven 2 min read

Aprilís Program: RMS

Are there any D&D folks in the audience? Come on, you know who you are. Past or present doesnít matter, just if you know what Iím talking about. Why, you ask? Because RMS, Aprilís program of the month, will use your ZX81 to build monsters. Any fledgling DM could then use these creatures in their latest campaign. Elves and humans will cringe at your originality and cruelty.

Posted Apr 29, 2015 by Steven 4 min read

Marchís Program: Input One

Input One, Marchís program of the month, is a great example of the kind of simple and brute force programming of the 1980s. This was a time when computers had little memory and their users had to use simple BASIC programming to get things done. The alternative was to buy a cassette tape of programs that took minutes to load even short programs, assuming they loaded at all. For the rest of us, we either typed them in or wrote little programs like this.

Posted Mar 29, 2015 by Steven 3 min read

Februaryís Program: Math Bash

At the one level, you can sum up most programs into three big groups: business, gaming, or educational. Most of my programs fit into one of these base categories. The standouts are generally the animation or demo programs that really have no distinct genre. Even those, however, I can†lump into one of the big three without much effort. There are times when these categories get blurred and a program can fit into two or more categories. This monthís program is one of those.

Posted Feb 22, 2015 by Steven 5 min read

Januaryís Program: Comp. Talk

Mixing things up a bit, I thought Iíd start off the new year without a game program. Instead, Januaryís program is Computer Talk, or Comp. Talk for short. Comp. Talk is one of several educational programs I wrote for reasons Iím not entirely sure of. Perhaps it was just the thing to do back in then. Many computer books, especially those that taught programming, had a mix of program genres. Whatever the reason, I wrote Comp. Talk as a way for the ZX81 computer to introduce itself and show a bit of what it could do.

Posted Jan 24, 2015 by Steven 2 min read