|S P E C T R U M O P U S T E X T O R I A L|
( Sp.O.T. )
Way back in 1988 I got tired of rummaging through my Sinclair magazines
trying to find things, and decided it might be a nice idea to index the
contents so I could find things quickly. As the only computers I had at the
time were 48k and 128k Spectrums, I decided to have a go at writing a magazine
index database for the Spectrum 128k, using its RAM disk space for storage.
This program was called GINDEX (Games Index), used BASIC for the screen presentation and
input and Z80 machine code for the file manipulation. Although I didn't know
it at the time, GINDEX would be the precursor of SPOT.
I pottered around with GINDEX on and off for quite a while, until sometime in 1989 I
eventually had to admit that, not surprisingly, the 64kb of RAM disk space
available wasn't sufficient for the task, and I was going to fill up all the
space long before I'd indexed all my magazines, even if the index was
restricted to just the games reviews - so GINDEX was relegated to obscurity
In 1989 I got an Apple Macintosh SE/30, and subsequently I bought the Omnis
3 database application (pub. Blyth Software), and after using it to set up
several databases for my reference my thoughts eventually returned to GINDEX.
Now I had a proper database application and plenty of storage space I could
contemplate writing something to index all the Spectrum-
related articles in all the Sinclair magazines I had (Crash, Sinclair User,
Your Spectrum and Your Sinclair, plus the short-lived Micro Adventurer). In
1993 I began work on programming the new database and then started on
the mammoth task of
ploughing through every page of every issue of every one of my magazines,
extracting and indexing all the Spectrum entries; this took me over two
Since then the database has been given a new name, and has expanded to cover all the back issues I have
since been able to obtain in addition to my own issues which I bought when
the Spectrum was in production. Even so, the layout of the entry screens
remains pretty much as it was in the original GINDEX program from all those
years before, with just an extra field added here and there. Currently SPOT indexes the five titles mentioned above, plus Sinclair Answers, Sinclair Programs and ZX Computing - some 441 issues (100% - including annuals) - plus 812 issues of various multi-format magazines; with 66,110 entries covering over 7,250 topics.
Apart from SPOT (= Spectrum Opus Textorial) being a useful acronym to
the purpose of the database, the original SPOT virtual location at "Dead Dog Farm"
prompts a relation to both Spot as a doggy name and the famous Spotty Dog of
The Woodentops (a very old UK TV puppet program), thus the dog in the logo. Plus, the word "spot" can also mean to discover or identify something, or to expect something of someone. ("I never knew there was so
much in it!")
What's in SPOT?
Individual index references broken down by topic, type, issue and page for
Spectrum & related news, review, tips, programming, fiction and feature articles in those issues of Crash,
Micro Adventurer, Sinclair Answers, Sinclair Programs, Sinclair User, Your Spectrum, Your Sinclair and ZX Computing (plus many issues of various multi-format titles) which I
currently own; including information originally provided for other issues by some of the people listed in the Good Eggs section.
(See also "The Found Issues" below.)
What's not in SPOT?
References for most advertisements and non-Spectrum articles (eg. ZX80/81 or QL); trivial news references of the form "Space Blasters by Splodgit Software will be released next week and it's going to be great!" are generally omitted, as they're of little interest and were often wrong; competition pages. All promotional pages (advertisements, competitions, special offers) are now indexed in the separate SPEX database.
You can download the database from the SPOT*On website or you may search the database on-line at Martijn van der Heide's Sinclair Info Seek page. Alternatively,
send requests for information from SPOT to me: jg27paw4 at domain globalnet.co.uk .
How can I get my own copy of SPOT?
If you have a suitable database
application into which to load the data, then you can obtain your own copy
of the current SPOT data files to install on your own system. This will include the data files in plain text tab-delimited
format, file definitions and a
database schema. Your database application
would need to be able to handle files with up to 100,000 records, plus a
total database size (including indexes) of around 20mb.
If you don't have your own database application, then you can obtain a full SPOT index listing. This will be a set of plain text files with the contents grouped alphabetically by title (A-C, D-G, etc) with the entries listed in the sequence: topic title + reference type + magazine title + magazine issue date. Here's an example of the layout.
For both options ...
The SPOT archive files are available on-line at the SPOT*On website, in both of the above formats.
These are the issues of the eight core magazine titles currently indexed on SPOT. Every issue of each title has now been indexed.
|59 ||(Feb'87) - numbered 58|
|60 ||(Mar'87) - numbered 59|
|97 ||(not published)|
|SINCLAIR USER Annuals|
| ||done ||o/s ||total|
| ||--- ||--- ||---|
| ||= 100%|
|sundry multi-format magazines (monthly)||392||-||-|
|sundry multi-format magazines (weekly)||420||-||-|