King of Excellent (according to Scaryduck)

Friday, June 9

Chips with everything.

Technology’s always played a big part of my life. My father was (un)fortunate enough to find himself working in a large bank computer centre from the 1960s onwards, and so I would regularly spend my Saturday mornings with Multicoloured Swap Shop drowned out by the tumultuous tape machines whirring away, feeding everyone’s bank details from one to another. As he progressed through the ranks and finally moved to a large computer company instead of financial parasites institutions, I found myself sat at PCs playing games or more importantly looking at information I shouldn’t be.

At home it was a different kettle of fish. My father’s a little ham-fisted at the best of times, and scenes that wouldn’t have been out of place on Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em were common place. One of my earliest memories was him removing a wall mounted light without turning off the mains first. The sparks from that will leave an impression on any 5 year old.

As home technology improved, we tried to keep up. We borrowed a home console from one of his work colleagues, and after the first hour trying to tune in the TV, we spent many (many, many) hours ooohing and ahhhing as the stunt bike rider plunged headlong into another bus. This meant that we had to take the plunge, and a friend from the pub sold us (well, my sister) a Phillips Videopac 2600. Everyone else got an Atari 2600, or an intellivision.

Wanting to be the first in the street to boast a video, my father spent a large wedge of cash on a new VCR. The guy in the shop had sold it well. We had 3 choices; a double-sided lousy quality and stupidly expensive recorder. The American standard of video, which in his opinion wouldn’t take off, and the Japanese system, that was so good even the BBC were using it. Sold to the man with no knowledge of technology, we headed home with a Sony C5. Arguments with school friends ensued, with regards to quality and availability, but forever doomed to be marooned on the technological desert island that was the Betamax.

My friends all got new TVs with remote controls. Infrared posh thingies that had really clear pictures and teletext. We got a colour portable for the bedroom. No teletext, not even a proper aerial. Everyone else got stereos made up of separates, things like amplifiers, tape decks and radios with posh digital displays lit up on the front. We got a music centre with an eerie green glow where the ruler type dial showed the frequency of the radio.

Eventually we were the first with something. I got a real computer. Past track record should have meant I ended up with something like the TI99-4A but for once we made the right decision and got a Spectrum.

I’ve never looked back since.