The Story of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum in Pixels

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The Story of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum in Pixels Book Review by Jamie Battison (zapiy)

For those of us old enough to have owned a ZX Spectrum this book will, no doubt, bring back some fond memories of when we would watch a loading screen for what seemed like an eternity. It's also the time when I and many other bedroom coders learned the art of coding and I suspect many of us, early adopters of gaming, did the same with the snippets of free code and sometimes for games written down for us in our favourite gaming magazines.

For those that don't know, this book is the brain child of Chris Wilkins, a self confessed retro head and the same guy behind the hugely successful book: The History of Ocean (also reviewed here). Chris started a Kickstarter campaign to get this new Spectrum book made reality and, in all fairness, it easily achieved its target. This is book one in a series of three books dedicated to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. The cover has a black glossy finish with an embossed Sinclair logo and the iconic Spectrum rainbow straight across the front making it instantly recognisable. Quickly scanning the page count I am pleased to see a bumper page count of 234 pages. Though I'm not an expert on printing or the quality of paper, this is as good as any other book in my collection.

Reading the foreword from Chris, a story about growing up during that time (the Golden Era, as I call it), I am certain many of us will have very similar stories, something that will make this book feel much more personal. The first big article is about Rick Dickinson, the designer of the ZX80, ZX81 16K/48K Spectrum, Spectrum+ and the Spectrum 128K computers. Its a fascinating read where Rick describes the trials and tribulations of designing for Sir Clive Sinclair. Next is an article from Martyn Carroll the original Retro Gamer Magazine editor who also writes about his love and memories of the Spectrum era. I won’t go into a lot of detail, so as not to spoil it for you if you decide to purchase the book.

Of course, this book is called The Story of the ZX Spectrum in Pixels which means games and lots of them. Each game is accompanied with an image of the game label or a poster/flyer, loading screen and in-game graphics. Also each game has a brief description of its background and so on. To finish we are treated to lots of memoirs from some of gaming's icons, Andrew Hewson, Jon Ritman, the Oliver twins and Ste Pickford to name a few. All thoroughly insightful reading, I must congratulate Chris on bringing such and amazing book together in one package.

The book costs £19.99 and can be purchased from Fusion Retro Books (www.fusionretrobooks.com)or nab yourself the PDF version instead.