MJ HIBBETT AND THE VALIDATORS – “Hey Hey 16K” (on the album Say It With Words)
Before there were PCs or blogs or geek pride or the internet, there was the ZX Spectrum, one of the few things in this life that has made me, unequivocally, proud to be British. I didn’t even own a Spectrum. I got fobbed off with a BBC Micro Model B, which was the computer your parents bought you if they wanted you to use it educationally. Needless to say, most of the kids who had Spectrums are far better programmers now than the Mummy’s Boys who owned Model B’s. The ZX Spectrum was, basically, punk computing: it came with a tacky keyboard and bizarro specifications, but it was cheap enough to sell literally millions in 1982-1983. As MJ Hibbett sings on his lovable lo-fi compu-folk track, the Spectrum created “a generation who could code” – thousands of wired Britkids writing buggy programs and recording them onto Radio Shack tapes. The obvious limitations of the machine (rubbish sound, tiny memory, and the notorious attribute clash) were things to be pushed against and ingeniously overcome, while keeping a healthy sense of the absurdity inherent in the effort. So for every enormous step forward like 3D Ant Attack or KnightLore (overrated, if you ask me), there would be horror stories of PEEKS and POKES which could make the computer literally explode, and hordes of atrocious £1.99 budget adventures written with The Quill.

I’m aware that none of this is making the slightest bit of sense to my American readership, and that’s JUST THE WAY I LIKE IT. Want to know more? Download the single!