Well, it finally arrived at the PCW Show. A handful of Spectrum Plus 2’s were firmly bolted to the Sinclair stand and everyone was told the machine should be in the shops by the end of September.
Why Sir Clive didn’t take the Amstrad approach to the 128K Spectrum in the first place will remain a mystery for ever — at the 128K launch Sinclair Research made it clear that their new computer was aimed at the games player, and the press was treated to a roomful of software houses demonstrating their new games for the 128 the moment Sir Clive stopped speaking. Yet there was no sign of a joystick port, and no cassette player on the 128 (although a tape loading meter had been incorporated into the firmware).
Perhaps typically, Amstrad have diddled around with the wiring on the joystick ports ‘glued on’ to the Spectrum Plus 2. They plan to sell their own, wittily named, SJS1’s with the machine. Already, manufacturers are gearing up to make converters so that ordinary joysticks can be used. One company at least had a compatible stick at the PCW Show.
On closer examination, the cassette unit on the Plus 2 looks like it might first have featured in a cheapo car stereo set-up — and there is no tape counter! Silly omission, really. And the way this relaunched computer has been put together hints that it was designed to sell for rather less than the initial asking price...
If the Plus 2 going to sell? Over two million people in this country alone already have a Spectrum tucked away in the house somewhere. People whose rubber-keyed friends are getting very tired may well upgrade and stay faithful to the Spectrum name. The new keyboard — a ‘proper’ one at last — might justify the purchase of a Plus 2 to anyone who uses a Spectrum for serious purposes. The extra memory and improved sound will appeal to Techies, Musos and Gamesters too... provided software houses start taking advantage of the extra facilities.
And that’s what it all boils down to, really. Software houses. It’s a ‘chicken and egg situation’ when a computer is launched. People will buy a machine if there’s enough software available, but software houses are only going to invest time and money in writing for new machines if the hardware sells in significant numbers. Just where ARE all those games described in the glossy leaflet that came with the first 128K Spectrum?
Maybe Alan Sugar has managed to crack the shell of this particular egg, finally allowing the 128K chicken to fly into the air... Or perhaps Amstrad will still tackle the entertainment side of the home computer market with a dedicated games console in the not too distant future.
Much celebration and jubilation up here in CRASH Towers greets the arrival of the latest set of figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations. During the period January to June this year, CRASH sold 101,483 copies a month on average — more than any other computer magazine in the country by all accounts.
Several pints of Old Flatulence Bitter will no doubt be consumed here in Ludlow when we get down to the formal celebrations, but meanwhile here’s a big thank you to all the people who buy CRASH.
Now if we can only stop groups of thirty people all reading the same copy and persuade more readers to buy the magazine... Hmm.
Wonder if the Ludlow Mafia is ready to go national?
And this month is a slightly sad month for yours truly. All sorts of changes have been happening in the Towers this year, what with LM starting up and getting into gear ready for Christmas, and Auntie Aggie and the mail order crew moving to a new office. Gary Liddon has scurried off to London to work for Newsfield’s software house, Thalamus, Robin Candy is furthering his education at college, Ben Stone has joined the team and is busily writing comments full time now he’s left school. And of course CRASH is now the biggest computer magazine in the land and has the only REAL Girlie Tipster in the form of Hannah Smith.
This issue is my 25th as Editor. It is the last issue of CRASH that has me at the helm. Don’t worry, I’m not defecting — I’m not brave enough to try and control the Spiky Haired Ones over on ZZAP! like Roger Kean was. Anyway, Gary Penn is doing very nicely on ZZAP!, thankyouverymuch, and is also celebrating a chunky rise in circulation this month. And there’s a good few miles left in Old Crumbly’s bathchair over on AMTIX as well. No, I’m not changing magazines.
The CRASH Editorial Doc Martens have been promoted! I’ll be wearing them as Publishing Executive from now on, and will be staying with Newsfield to help the editorial teams of CRASH, ZZAP! and AMTIX keep on producing their magazines.
So it’s not REALLY Goodbye. More sort of, cheerio a bit.
Ian Craig recently joined the team working in the CRASH Towers ART Garret as an illustrator. Ian first featured in CRASH twelve issues ago in the ON THE COVER feature. This month, he features in CRASH yet again, this time on the cover.
Oliver Frey has produced all thirty two CRASH covers so far but has now got so busy, what with the other two computer magazines published by Newsfield and the brand new project, LM, that his airbrush is constantly overheating. Being a sensible sort of fellow, Ian brought his own airbrush to Ludlow with him and should be wielding it a lot more over the coming months...