Rob's Ramblings

Friday 17 February 2017

University Life

For us geeks of a certain age, there are some bits of text that immediately bring back memories..

Multi-User Dungeon

This Mud created:5th December 1984 at 19:55:17

Welcome! By what name shall I call you?

<enters name and password>

Yes!Your last game was today at 15:41:19.

Hello again, Amanda the heroine!

Narrow road between lands. 

This is, of course, MUD, the original and many say the best.

However how about this....

The computing department foyer. 

You are at the main entrance to the computing department. Grooves in the carpet indicate where a certain large filing cabinet has been pushed up against a wall, thus preventing any students hiding behind it, for late night Mud playing sessions. The mugshots of 27 members off staff leer out of you from a dark corner. The incessant tap of keyboards comes from a room to the south. 

This comes from a little remembered variant entitled UNI, based on Essex University itself.  Sadly I never attended the university myself, so cannot attest to the accuracy of the location descriptions, however I suspect there is some artistic licence at play here:

The Mathematics Department. 

The mathematics department is a creepy place! It is the sort of place in which lunatic asylum movies are filmed. The spirits of long-dead mathematicians come back to haunt unsuspecting students, trying to wipe out future generations of mathematicians with weird and evil calculus courses. Of course, this place is as nothing compared to the unspeakable horrors to the west.... 

And as for..

The lake. 

Before you stetches an apparantly endless vista of water. It's blackness gives the appearence of incredible depth, and reminds you more of a swamp, than a lake. The ghosts of long dead ducks, poisoned by the wastes from the chemistry department still float on the scum, looking for equally dead fish. A rolling expanse of untamed grassland stretches out to the north-west, whilst the shadow from the tower of the evil Nosferatu to the north strikes terror into the heart of mere students. 


Yes, it's true.  Some data files from UNI have been found!  Originally thought totally lost, some data has surfaced!  On a BBC Micro floppy disc, stuck at the back of a box in my spare room for many years... It's apparently not enough to run the game itself, but it is certainly of "historical interest"!  What I want to know is what was going through my teenage mind when I tried to download them in the first place, 32 years ago...  It wasn't as if I had a DEC-10 to run them on.

I'm trying to get around to cataloguing all my old discs and data,,, expect more gems in future!   

Mr MUD himself, Richard Bartle has, of course, been sent copies..   But does anybody know whom the students who wrote this were?

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Monday 13 February 2017

Some random sinclair ZX80 stuff

Way back in the mists of time, as fresh faced thirteen year old, I got to use a borrowed ZX80 at home. I spent a lot of time learning Z80 machine code, as there was only so much you could do in 1K (or even 4K, once it acquired a ram pack!)

A year later, I got bought the ZX81 kit, which I built, and had just a much fun on, along with loads of peripherals, interface cards, custom-character upgrades. new keyboard... etc.

Then I encountered a BBC Micro, and that was pretty much that... sold all the sinclair kit, and got myself a Beeb...

Anyway, perusing some old paperwork, this fell out.  It's component information and circuit diagram for a "video upgrade" for the ZX80 (And Microace) which based on the wording  "flicker free fun" would seem to be a "slow mode" upgrade...

Anyway, here it is for your perusal.  Maybe it would be of interest to somebody!

Compshop Video Upgrade(pdf)