ZX81 Computer

Showcasing monthly programs, a retro look at my my first computer., Page 4
Januaryís Program: Star Probe

Wow, 2016 and Iím still digging programs out of my stack of print outs. Kicking off the new year, Iím 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

Decemberís Program: V Water Battle

As 2014 comes to a close, I wanted to end the year with an original program of the month. For December, that program is V Water Battle, an action game from 1984. For some reason, the title screen I created said designed instead of wrote but I did both. I was an odd duck in 1984. You use the ďZĒ and ď.Ē keys to move. Use the ďMĒ key to fire. The goal is to stop the ships from stealing the water. Miss them or get shot and its game over. Of course, they steal the water after each wave anyway to make it harder.†Given that I†havenít beat it yet, the game is more†difficult than it would seem. Let me know if you do!

Posted Dec 29, 2014 by Steven 3 min read

Novemberís Program: Maze Craze

Hope everyone in the US had a great Turkey Day (Thanksgiving) and are now enjoying the last weekend of November. Iím busy with NaNoWriMo, and a bit behind. So I give you another program from my original ZX81 site, but not yet featured here. Novemberís program is the month is Maze Craze. Itís not hard, but you might need to graph out the maze if you get stuck. There are actually two mazes. Can you beat them both?

Posted Nov 29, 2014 by Steven 2 min read

Octoberís Program: NA

Whoa, there are still almost two weeks left in the month and I have Octoberís program done and waiting for you. Yep, you heard right. This month is a short one called NA. The program is an action game that requires you to use ďNĒ and ďAĒ to try to stop a runner. The letters have significance as you use them to stop the runner. However, there is a twist, miss and the program changes the letter needed. Sounds easy right? Guess what, I still havenít beaten it. Can you?

Posted Oct 21, 2014 by Steven 2 min read

Septemberís Programs: Photon í85 and í98

Well, the month is over and life has taken over and delayed my program of the month. For the tail end of September, I offer two programs: Photon and Photon 98. Wait, what? Yep, you heard right. Iím offering two programs this month. Sort of.† Actually they are very similar. Photon is the original program from 1985, and Photon 98 is a minor remake that cleans things up a bit.

Posted Sep 30, 2014 by Steven 2 min read

Augustís Program: Cave War

Augustís program is Cave War, a later program from 1985. It starts out similar to Hit Man, basically a scrolling dodge the wall game. But there is more to it than that. Once you get to the end of the tunnel, you find yourself in a cave and need to blast away at a wall to continue on. Oh, and if you hit the same spot twice, it resets. Can you make it out of the cave alive? Use ďZĒ and ď.Ē to dodge the walls and ďXĒ to blast away the ground. Good luck!

Posted Aug 24, 2014 by Steven 4 min read

Julyís Program: Block £ Spear

Sorry, still no Joust. Itís not where I want it†and Iíve spent July working on my novel instead. That isn't to say that Iím going to leave July without a program of the month. Instead Iíve pulled from my original site to bring you one of my favorite programs, Block £ Spear. In this game you'll find yourself at the wrong end of a knightís spear. Fortunately, you have a shield and can easily deflect the spear by using the Z and . keys to raise or lower your shield. Sounds easy? You might be surprised.

Posted Jul 23, 2014 by Steven 3 min read

Juneís Program: Monster Maker

Okay I havenít finished my remake of Joust yet, nor did I want to wait until the last week of the month to get an article out. Instead, I offer you Monster Maker as Juneís monthly program. Itís pretty straight forward and anti-climatic against the power of todayís programs. Once you load it, enter in five numbers and type your monsterís name. Thatís it. The program will then display a nicely formatted monster description based on your input.

Posted Jun 08, 2014 by Steven 3 min read

Mayís Program: Joust

I actually started working on Mayís program of the month, Joust, about three weeks ago. My goal was to update the program to a faster and more fluid MCODER version. Sadly, things havenít gone so well. Pressed for time, I will leave you instead with my original take on this popular arcade from the 80s.

Posted May 28, 2014 by Steven 5 min read

Aprilís Program: Flywheel

April has been a crazy month. I decided to try something new, pushed along by an unexpected event. Iím writing a book. I joined NaNoWriMo just after last November's event so I didn't expect to do anything until later this year. The surprise was their CampNaNoWriMo event in April. Not to waste the opportunity, Iíve been busy crafting my Sci Fi novel and am now in the final stretch to my 50,000 words goal. Add on top of that a business trip and a family trip and you'll quickly see that my ZX81 hobby gets pushed by the wayside.

Posted Apr 27, 2014 by Steven 3 min read

Marchís Program: The Ball Redux

For March's program of the month, I drew inspiration from one of my older demoís, The Ball. Like many young kids from the early eighties using BASIC, I took a stab at animating a bouncing ball. It is a a relatively easy program to write depending on how complex you want to make the math. In my case, it is very simple math, no physics involved here.

Posted Mar 29, 2014 by Steven 4 min read