Early Sinclair ZX81 software adverts

Way before full colour ads were the norm and just before the emergence of it’s colourful sibling; the ZX Spectrum, ZX81 software adverts in computer magazines were often a very crude affair. Still very much in the time of the ‘bedroom coder’ much of the software in this early period was still produced at home using rudimentary tape to tape copying machines and photocopied inlays and labels. A few of the software houses had been around for a number of years, Automata for instance (headed by Mel Croucher) had been around since 1977 and as such was the UKs first video games company. The Automata ad below is for a rather smutty range of titles and purports to be ‘for jaded minds, bad taste is our speciality’, as many of you know they went on to produce Pimania and the poor-selling but brilliant Deus Ex Machina in the Spectrum years that followed. Others though were just getting to their feet. Software Farm, famous for their later hi-res releases were joining many others in releasing home versions of Asteroids and Pac-Man (Gobblers). Sadly a good proportion of the software producers you see below were destined to fail, selling maybe a few hundred copies and disappearing like many others into obscurity.

Feel free to comment below if you remember owning any of the software in the ads, or indeed if you were one of the early microcomputer entrepreneurs that placed one of these ads in those early computer magazines.


Click images to enlarge.

Ads taken from: Popular Computing Weekly, Sinclair Programs, Sinclair User, ZX Projects, Your Computer

Author: Ant Harper

Father, Husband, website developer, avid gamer since the mid-70s and collector of just about anything video game related. 8-Bit microcomputer and Sinclair specialist with a huge Sinclair related collection of his own. Blogs about retro gaming here but occasionally elsewhere when people ask. Bored of Mario and never much liked Zelda. Performs quirkafleegs for cold hard cash. Often found destroying ice crowns in the Lands of Midnight. Remembers: Lunar Lander. Plays: Steel Battalion, Gears of War

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