Your Spectrum
Issue 6, August 1984 - Frontlines
Home Contents KwikPik
The software protection debate continues unabated amongst Britain's producers, while GOSH (the Guild of Software Houses) tries to co-ordinate the efforts and ideas of its members. However, it's the feeling of a few that GOSH is too exclusive for its own good, extending the offer of membership only to friends - or companies who have close working relationships with existing members.
This feeling was expressed by Colin Stokes of Software Projects. He said, "We're doing a lot of work on software protection at the moment, but it would be easier and more effective if we could work with other GOSH members."
It's not only Software Projects that's feeling left out. Imagine is also out-in-the-cold, according to its spokesman, Mike Crofton. He said, "We'd be happy to join, if somebody would invite us - but so far they haven't." So what did he think about working with SP on the protection issue? Rather unkindly, he replied, "We're not interested in working with, seeing, or touching them. In fact, our pet name for them is Software Defects." All of which indicates that Imagine intends staying out on its own.
So why are these two well known and popular producers of computer games being shunned? GOSH chairman, Nick Alexander, explained
that out of 36 applications, only two had been rejected (guess which!) and that the reason for this had something to do with the business practices of the two Liverpool companies. What exactly, he found so objectionable he wasn't prepared to say.
He did, though, explain why GOSH seems to be making such heavy weather of its fight against software pirates. He said confidence of the individual members has to grow - which is a slow business, especially when these people spend most of their time in direct competition. But he confirmed that £50,000 is currently being extracted from members, so that prosecutions can begin.
Quicksilva, one of Britain's leading games software houses, has been sold to the Argus Press Group; publishers of many a micromag rival.
The deal results in the departure of Nick Lambert (QS's founder) and John Hollis. Staying on are the lovable Mark Eyles and Caroline Hayon, and 'smiling' Rod Cousins.
Rumour has it that the deal was clinched for a sum in the range of £1.8-11 millions; our own sources tell us the figure was around £2.2 millions - but what's a few zeroes between friends?
And talking of friends, what exactly will QS's relationship with the Argus empire be like in the future. Asked for his comments, Ron Harris, managing director of Argus Press Software,
explained that Quicksilva would become part of his organisation, and would continue to operate much as normal. He attempted to allay fears of incestuous business practice by claiming, "We are committed to an expansion programme, and it's too late for us to develop our own arcade range quickly - this seemed the logical thing to do."
Would there really be no conflict of interest? "No", he said, "there'll be none! No one from Quicksilva will be working at this office - and Argus Press Software is totally separate to Argus Specialist Publications." Hmm, there's at least a floor between them - and some may also wonder why Ron Harris appears on the masthead of ZX Computing (another Argus publication) as the managing editor.
Quicksilva's Rod Cousins made a statement a few days after the event. He claimed that QS would continue as an independent company, with a board consisting of Jim Connell (Chairman), Rod Cousins, Ron Harris and Mike Dougan (the Argus money-man). He went on to explain that with forward planning a priority, the benefits of a substantial group would ensure the stability, security and growth pattern desired by Quicksilva at a time when the risk factor in games software production is increasing.
But the last word goes to manic Mark Eyles, "It's very exciting for us - and if you think that Quicksilva's done some amazing things already, just wait 'till you see what we've got lined up for the rest of this year and next."

It's not often that a software house comes up with the goods on how to break in to manipulate its own commercial output - but that's exactly what Software Projects are doing with its Jet Set Willy package. The much-publicised "sneaky random hazards feature" which befell unsuspecting players entering The Attic seems to have turned out to be the bug we all thought it was, and thanks to Ross Holman and Cameron Else (winners of the JSW champagne and glasses) the company now have a number of 'fixes' you can add to your program. And this is what you do ...
Rewind the Jet Set Willy tape and load it using MERGE "", press Enter and start the tape. Once the loader program has been loaded you will get the 'OK' message on the screen and you should stop the tape. Now enter:

CLEAR 32767
as direct commands and start the tape. After the main part of the program has loaded, enter the following as direct commands:

POKE 60231,0
POKE 42183,11
POKE 59901,82
POKE 56876,4

and your problems should be over. To start the new version of the game, enter GO TO 40.
Of course, if you don't want to go through this process each time, you can save it on another tape. So, once you've sorted out the leads for a SAVE, enter:

SAVE "JSW" CODE 32769,32768
Sinclair Research has given written assurances under Part Three of the Fair Trading Act 1973 that it will not advertise delivery times of goods that the company can't keep.
These assurances were sought from the company after the Director General of Fair Trading, Sir Gordon Borrie, had received complaints between February 1980 and November 1982 that the company was advertising 'delivery in 28 days' or 'Please allow up to 28 days for delivery', but was clearly unable to dispatch the goods within that period. The complaints related mainly to the ZX80, ZX81 and ZX Spectrum. During the Summer of 1982 the company's own estimate of delivery times reached 12 weeks and some customers waited up to 16 weeks for receipt of goods. Sir Clive Sinclair gave a personal assurance about this matter. In a statement made by Sinclair Research it was claimed that once it was realised demand was exceeding supply, advertising was stopped. Customers who didn't want to wait for delivery were given the opportunity to cancel their order and ask for a refund.
It's rather surprising, therefore, that Sinclair Research didn't decide to stop advertising the QL as soon as it realised demand was exceeding supply once again.

At first sight you might think an outfit calling itself Romantic Robot would he heavily into mechanical clones of Barry Manilow or even worse ( What could be worse? Ed. ). But you'd be wrong, for RR is a software house, eager to help users 'exploit' the Microdrive and all its charms.
In a software series called Trans-Express, Romantic Robot is offering cassette versions of such snappily-named programs as Tape To Microdrive, Microdrive To Microdrive, Tape To Tape and Microdrive To Tape.
From a brief glimpse snatched while visiting this year's Computer Fair, the facilities offered are user-friendly and contain various error- trapping routines and tests to stop you losing your precious code. No doubt, what many buyers will have in mind
is to copy vast quantities of commercial-based software to Microdrive.
So far, there's been little reaction from software houses - perhaps because they've yet to grasp the implications. But, if you're the proud owner of Microdrives and fed up with the amount of software currently available on this medium (ie. none) then this package will allow you to transfer across some of the material you now have on tape. What's the point of having a Microdrive if you're not able to use it? Of course, the software houses may take a different point of view.
Anyone interested in this clutch of programs can contact Romantic Robot direct at nnn xxxxxxx xxxxxx, xxxxxx xxn nxx. The prices are £5.50 each, £7.50 for any two, or £9.95 for the lot.
June 14-17 saw the third annual Computer FaIr, held once again at Earls Court in London - and it was small, small, small!
Pride of place went to the Sinclair Research stand - which resembled a 1980's version of the Greek Pantheon - and there, that still rare bird, the QL, was much in evidence. Keen-eyed visitors on the Business / Trade Only day were treated to a sight of the diminutive Sir Clive moseying round his stand, perhaps in search of some good publicity to support him in his current enthusiasm for taking over as purveyor of the Beeb's official machine.
An interesting addition to this year's binge was the computing junkshop. Two were in evidence, selling a motley array of unwanted secondhand bits and pieces of computing gear. 'Bargains' could be had for just a small sum, albeit the goods lacked any kind of guarantee.
Perhaps the main story of the show was that
given a huge venue like Earls Court, it was disconcerting to find our once favourite thrash tucked away in a small part of the building, somewhere upstairs at the back. There were not only fewer stands overall, but some were conspicuous by their emptiness. The much publicised 'Sinclair Village', for instance, had magically transformed itself to a single street!
According to the Exhibitions Manager of the Computer Fair, Roy Bratt, although the Fair seemed smaller than last year's, it actually covered the same floor space - probably due to there being bigger stands and fewer of them.
Attendance this year was down 20,000 on last year - which could be a trend, especially when you consider that the recent Commodore Fair's attendance was down 10,000 on its previous bash. Encouragement can be gained, however, from the fact that Roy's already got the next Computer Fair well in hand - just wait 'till next year, eh Roy!
Home Contents KwikPik