The 'History' page. About me and my computers.


Way back in the seventies our maths teacher showed us what a flow chart was and how that was what made a computer work. I asked how you got that information in to the computer and was told I needed to learn BASIC. I was soon allowed into the fabled computer room, where a Commodore PET took up most of a table. (We had won it in a quiz on BBC radio !!!) From there I started to learn how to type my name, and so on. (You have to start somewhere ). Soon we had a second PET, This one had high resolution graphics, which opened a whole new world to us who were rapidly getting obsessed. A few years later the magazines were filling the shelves and they spoke of marvellous new machines that you could plug in the TV. They had sound, they had colour ! They were small and had rubbish keyboards. "Wait 'til the Electron comes out. That'll be good !', I was told. But I started to eye a certain machine called ORIC-1. Maybe it was the easy sound commands, maybe it was the colourful screen, (that used a cunning method to preserve memory), or maybe it was just the whole thing that seemed so well thought out. I wanted it ! I wanted an ORIC-1.


And so it was that I saved up my school dinner money and spent it on a computer. My first machine. A ZX81. Look, they were cheap, OK? I deeply wanted a computer. I knew the Oric was the one I wanted. But I just couldn't afford one. (I had digital watches to buy - they kept going wrong. I had to get calculators, I had sweets to buy ! ) So I spent hours rubbing the "keyboard" and trying to find where on earth the keyword that I needed was. This wasn't easy. I joined a computer club. Each week I carried an enormous black and white TV around - and plugged it into the tiny Sinclair. The club was fun, with people arriving with BBCs, a TI99/4a, an Apple II amongst others. After a few weeks I declared I was going to buy an Oric, and so a buyer for the horrid little black thing was found.


I can't remember exactly whether I went to college before I got my first Oric, or after, but after searching the pages of Exchange & Mart I found an Oric I could afford. The 16K Oric-1. (Loads of memory compared to the ZX81 - surely that will be enough?) The machine arrived with Oric magazines and a handful of tapes. Galaxy 5 was a mixture of good and poor programs, but they showed the BASIC listing so you could learn from it. Nice idea ! Xenon 1 and Scuba Dive were played over and over again. Several games were released for the Oric, but most were for the 48K machine. Damn ! Oh well, at least I could still use the BASIC, so I set about learning programming, which tunred out to be much easier on a proper machine, instead of the ghastly Sinclair. Whilst at college in Edinburgh I visited Laskey's and saw a new Oric machine called 'Atmos'. I couldn't afford one, but I wanted it. I didn't know what it did that the Oric-1 didn't but it just looked great !

About a year later I managed to obtain a 48K Oric-1 after again scouring the pages of E&M. Another £35 well spent ! (Yes, both my Oric-1s cost the same just a year apart. Computers depreciated back then too ! )  After a lot of searching I managed to find places to buy Oric software and scraped enough funds together to buy Manic Miner, Dracula's Revenge and Trouble in Store before Oric things started disappearing. I managed to find a place in Wales that rented Oric software out and got 'the Hellion'. Stunning ! That game showed me what the Oric was capable of. I knew it could do the sort of things I'd seen Sinclair Spectrums doing. Nevertheless, after the pressure of staying loyal to the Oric for several years without much to show for it, I went and bought a mates Spectrum 128K. It was 1988 and it seemed things were done and dusted as far as the Oric was concerned. 


The great thing about the Speccy was that you could buy games for it in shops !!! I walked into Woolies and got 'Garfield', bought 'The Race Against Time' which was part of the Live Aid/ Sport Aid/ Everything Aid of the time. Magazines were still on the shelves, though they were very low brow ! Great fun for games, but the Speccy had a foul keyboard, a useless "one-key" BASIC and was just cheap and nasty. Sir Clive sold what was left of Sinclair to Amstrad and they introduced a Sinclair with something like a proper keyboard. I stopped using computers and started a new career hacking at things with a big chainsaw. A couple of years later I had had enough of the wood, and left for better things. I joined the ranks of the unemployed and spent some of my idle life playing with my old computers, which meant firing up the Oric again. Eventually I managed to break back in to my old college in Edinburgh and regained my rank as a student.


In Scotland I was dragged away from my nice flat and so it was that I moved in with one Ally Scott. (Now known as Ally McGurk). She made me tune her piano and then persuaded me to show her my Oric-1. I told her they were as good as a Speccy and she persuaded me to advertise for an Atmos. It worked ! An Atmos arrived with a little cutting featuring an advert for OUM. Wow ! Oric support !!!! I joined up and was soon spending money earned from part time work on a disk interface. From there I bought as much oric software as I could afford and started writing in to OUM, and later also joined CEO.
The Spectrum comics disappeared from the shelves and shops as consoles had taken over the gaming mantle, wrenched away from Amiga and Atari. 


As a member of OUM I thought I should do my bit to contribute. I started by just writing letters. I then thought I could write articles about music as the Oric could be used for such things. I used the pen-name 'Muso' which may have been inspired by my reading articles by Kimbo. With Ally helping out with the odd article, I notched up a series of articles which took half a forest of paper. Each month I would print out my article. I'd then have to check it, (or more likely, get Ally to check it), for errors and print it out again - and then spot more mistakes. Hey, I was new to typing ! Sorry for all the mistakes that got missed.

I still regularly wrote in to Dave and sent in any tips or Hiscores that I came up with. Dave soon had me looking after the Hiscore chart, as well as doing my articles which were then focussed on an A to Z of 8-bit computers. Sometimes there was an embarrassing amount of my material in OUM and I thought of stopping to give others a chance. I kept trying to persuade others to write in and send contributions.

With pressures at work and other commitments, Dave decided to close OUM down. It was announced at the penultimate Oric Meet, (which I couldn't get down to). So I read the announcement in a later OUM. I was shocked. I understood Daves reasons and things had been going a bit slowly in the Oric world, but I wanted to carry on. There were things to do still - there was life in the Oric yet ! I tried to rally the troops. Come on ! Let's keep going. Let's form a new magazine and keep the Oric flag flying! You'd think a group of 'Oric fans' would be interested in the Oric wouldn't you? Sadly only 4 replied to my article. With 5 of the 6 I had previously contacted personally that made 9. I was distraught. I pretty much gave up the idea, but others kept pestering me to rally support and keep Oric support in the UK..

That is when I set about founding a new magazine for the Oric - it would be the first new Oric publication for around ten years ! - see the Rhetoric pages !

What I have done for the Oric

Go to Rhetoric page

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© Copyright 2000 by S.D. Marshall email me