Day 247 - Eeeeeeviiiiiiillll!

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , ,

I haven't used this title purely because I've just watched the lost Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy episode with my youngest child.  Ooohhhhh, no.  I'm using it because that's what this post is about.  Pure evil.  And we (almost) all were guilty...

I was just digging through my retro stash (thanks again Mr. Reed), when I came across some of these:

Look at that.  The 80s equivalent of a bar of gold.
Surely everybody that owned a computer, be it C64, Spectrum, Amstrad, Dragon 32, BBC or Oric must have had a stash of these.  They were perfect.  You could fit almost any single-load game on one side, which negated the need for tediously hunting through tapes and writing down counter numbers for each game.  You'd just load up the game, play it, and when you'd finished you'd turn the tape over, rewind it the short distance to the beginning and load up the game on that side.  Brilliant!

Of course, the fact you were doing so meant that you were a filthy, stinking PIRATE!  But to be honest, I don't think many kids back then even knew what that meant or what the consequences were.  It wasn't something I even thought about.

That said, there can have been no other reason for these cassettes to be produced other than for kids to copy games onto.  They were dead cheap (anyone remember exactly how much?), ideal for kids with limited budgets.  And let's face it, how many of us actually wrote our own programs?  Well, I wrote one... a database of ZZAP! 64-style reviews.  But it only consisted or PRINT and IF...THEN...GOTO statements.  Hardly a complex work.

Erm... that's right, m'lud. My reviews database was called "Commando".  Honest.
And for all that, I owned tens of Boots C15 cassettes.  Boots even sold cassette carriers, which held ten or twenty of these things and had a handle... perfect for carrying your evil ill-gotten games to a mate's house.

Of course, there were times when a C15 wouldn't do.  Complex multiloads needed more tape room, for starters.  And then there was the fact that you could get up to ten games on a side of C90 cassette.  So if you didn't have a big enough supply of trusty C15s, then you had to break out the big fella.

I probably sound like a right scumbag now.  But to be fair, I owned over 200 original games for my C64.  The problem was there were just so many great games available, and kids of our age had a very finite amount of cash.  It was simply impossible to buy all the games we wanted, which is where blank cassettes came in.  But I know that I, and most of my mates, had a very impressive collection of original games.  We bought as much as we could, not necessarily because we knew it was right, but because we liked owning this stuff.

That's just WRONG, man!  Who would waste tape on Trivial Pursuit?
I'm much the same now.  I've never owned any copied games for any system beyond my Commodore 64 (except for inherited copies that have come with a second-hand system I've bought).  I'd rather buy and own a film than download it.  And although I will admit to downloading music on occasion, I will either buy it if I like it or delete it if I don't.  Although in this day and age, there are programs available that legally allow you to preview music before you buy it so downloading is becoming a bit of a thing of the past.

I don't really have a point to this.  I'm not staunchly condemning the evil pirate scum or implicitly advocating the purchase of absolutely everything you like.  I just thought it would be fun to write a bit about the old days, having found a box of treasures.  There's not much that's more fun than digging through the past.