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My ZX Spectrum Memories | Ep. 88


Hey, guys! Welcome back! The 23rd of April celebrates the birthday
of the machine that got me into this wonderful world of video games. So, to celebrate Speccy’s birthday, let
me tell you how it was like to be a gamer back in those good old days here in Portugal! Let’s take a look! The ZX Spectrum was the follow up, and a huge
improvement, over the monochromatic ZX81, and Portuguese people were always receptive
to technological advances. So, the ZX Spectrum was a big opportunity
for families to have a computer in their own houses, ‘cause its price was really attractive
and everyone had already a cassette player laying around at home. As opposite to the UK and other European countries,
Portugal didn’t have, back then, any kind of fiscal control that could protect the intellectual
properties of software creators, so it was a huge deal for local electronics
and computer dealers to grab the latest hits coming from the United Kingdom and Spain, and make tons of copies to be sold really
cheap, beginning with a simple and generic cover, with the name of the shop front and
center, and the game’s title on the spine of the
case. I recall this awkward moment when I was about
to play 1984’s Bruce Lee and, instead of that typical loading sounds, I got this… The fuss was so huge behind the counter that
this kind of mistakes could easily happen! Later cassette duplication would become more
and more professional, with full color covers and even Portuguese instructions or just a
basic resume describing the game. Usually, these would cost somewhere around
1 and 2 Euros and a perfectly normal practice till early 90s. Few saw the video game business as a huge
opportunity to make money, but the ones that really had that vision of things to come,
made a fortune over night! I recall this one place that had this wall
filled with double deck duplicators and, while we waited for the copy to finish, we could
test the latest hits that would be running on a couple of ZX Spectrums. This practice would later evolve to the Amiga
and these shops needed to keep up with the evolution. I began to suspect that something wasn’t
right when I started to buy British and Spanish magazines, and ended up realizing that most
games were available in card board boxes and I recall thinking that I was being cheated
in some way. So my attitude towards that situation was
to go to one of my local vendors, select a game, take it home, make a copy and, in the next
day, return it saying that it didn’t work and, then, bring the one that I really wanted! Was I stopping piracy by doing that? Not at all! But, in my head, I was teaching a lesson to
those guys for selling cheap alternatives to those gorgeous looking boxes available
in other countries! Obviously that this wasn’t, at all, a Spectrum
only issue! This was a common practice also for other
home computers from the 80s, the ones that had the biggest fan base in Portugal, like the Commodore 64 and, later, the Amiga. As you know, and as I already mentioned in
Pixel THING’s episode #62, piracy wasn’t just placing a tape on the cassette player
and make a copy, if you had a very expensive double deck system,
obviously, there were also amateur radio hobbyists that
were also into video games and “generous” enough to “share” games with their neighbors
through the air, just like a normal radio station that we could
tune in and record! Piracy was also a huge problem in Spain, so
Spanish publisher Erbe Software came up with a well-received anti-piracy campaign that
would allow gamers to get brand new and original titles for a fraction of the price, eradicating, almost completely, piracy in
the Iberian Peninsula. Pixel THING’s episode #49 tells this exact
story, so feel free to check that one out! Back then, at school, it was really easy to
find colleagues that also had a Spectrum and from whom we could borrow some games to make
our own 60 or even 90-minute compilation of games! Others would also bring newspaper pieces with
the latest tips & tricks to help up in those more difficult levels. The famous “pokes” would also offer special
features in game, like, for instance, unlimited energy or infinite lives. I remember drawing some maps to help my friends
find their way through those maze like levels and pointing out the exact spot of those scattered
special items, so that they would not waste precious time searching for those. This was how we shared information in an offline
Era like the 80s, so I could say that the Spectrum brought people together and a true
community spirit was built! So, to conclude, the ZX Spectrum was the responsible
for this passion of mine for video games and for many friendships that endure till this
present day! And, before wrapping up this episode, here’s
my Top 5 titles that I’ve played on the 48k ZX Spectrum! Many more things can be said about the amazing
ZX Spectrum years, but I’ll leave that for other episodes! Meanwhile, check these and all other Spectrum
related videos available on my channel! So, like, comment, share and subscribe to
get all my upcoming content! Thank you very much for watching and… I’ll see you all next week!

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