My first published programs

19Sep21

Background

This post has been a long time in the making. But a couple of things happened in the past week that prodded me to finally write it.

Firstly there’s this epic thread from Shahid Kamal Ahmad about becoming a games developer in the early 80s.

And then there was the awful news of the passing of Sir Clive Sinclair, who made computers cheap enough that I was able to write programs in the first place.

The early part of my story was very similar to Shahid’s. I even once put a classified ad into a computer mag for my awful BASIC ‘Draw’ program for the Dragon 32, and I too got zero orders. I was younger, and a bit slower to learn machine code, so when ’84 came around I wasn’t the kid being asked to port Jet Set Willy to the C64.

It was October ’86 before I got anything published, and then I hit jackpot with two programs in the same month.

Simon

The first to hit the news stands was Commodore Computing International (CCI), who carried my Simon program for the C16 and Plus/4:

CCI never actually paid me for it, despite various chasing phone calls, letters, invoices etc.

This wasn’t the last time I coded Simon. It became one of those things that I often repeat as a way of learning my way around a new language or platform.

Commodore 1541 Disk Utilities

Personal Computer World (PCW) my favourite magazine of the era published these, which I used frequently myself:

PCW did pay (£60 if I recall), and then a little while later another cheque came from VNU for ‘Synd pub’, which was a pleasant surprise. I think the cash went towards paying my mum back for the Star LC10 printer I’d bought so that I could produce decent listings.

The front pages

CCI was featuring ‘Hands on the 64C’

and PCW heralded the debut of Amstrad’s cheap PC clone, the 1512, which was about to earn my a lot of pocket money as I got the small businesses of North Shields up and running on Sage accounts etc.

Who’s C Whitfield?

The eagle eyed amongst you might be wondering who C Whitfield was. That was me. Long story, and not one that I really want to recount here…



One Response to “My first published programs”

  1. 1 Pete Fletcher

    love it, I spent many hours and days typing out magazine listings to learn BASIC on my Sinclair Spectrum 48K. Recounting those fond memories – it mainly taught me how to debug and test a program. Years later, my first job was a System Tester and then a COBOL Developer with Eagle Star Insurance.

    I hope you are well Chris!


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