Rails Magazine

Today I received my copy of the first Rails Magazine in the post. I haven’t read it yet, so don’t expect an in-depth review. But it did bring back memories.

When Santa, via my parents, delivered my Sinclair ZX81 back in the early eighties he gave me a copy of Your Computer with the ZX81 on the cover. The magazine contained letters, reviews, articles and, most importantly, code samples that you could type in. Just like Rails Magazine. So for a few years I would get it delivered every month from the paper shop. But one magazine wasn’t enough so I also used to get Computer and Video Games magazine. This, as it’s title suggests, really only contained programs dedicated to the fun side of computing. I spent many happy hours trying to type in programs for the Pet and the Vic20 only to discover that they wouldn’t have a hope in hell of running.

Some readers where obviously a dab-hand at a black art known as machine code. To do this on the ZX81 you had to create a REM statement on the first line to contain the program, so it had to be exactly the right size. Then you would type in a loader program and enter the hex characters. Before you ran it you had to make sure it was saved, to cassette tape naturally, because once it was running the only way to stop it was to kill the power.

One evening I had spent about half an hour typing these characters in. They had to be 100% accurate or the program wouldn’t run. Someone opened the bedroom door and, being of a nervous disposition, I jumped, knocking the ZX81 with the 16k ram pack and lost everything that I had spent so long typing in.

After that came the Dragon 32 and Dragon User magazine. I think that I’d ditched Computer and Video Games by then, being more of a serious programmer.

Back before downloads, cover mounted DVD ROMs, CD ROMs and both floppy disk formats I remember getting programs on a floppy vinyl 45rpm record. This contained about 4 programs for different computers and you recorded the sound onto audio cassette and loaded it in as you would a program that you had saved yourself. Ah, happy days!

  • Posted on Wednesday, 18 March 2009
  • Tagged with rails