|x128 OS/2 v0.5b5||- by Tim Walker|
That boy now possesses a 48k Sinclair Spectrum home computer. 8-bit, 16-colour display output, cassette storage of data and -- to the eternal derision of owners of its great arch-rival, the Commodore 64 -- a solitary monophonic internal beeper for sound, which halted the computer every time it sounded.
And yet that little black box, and the thousands of classic games written for it, changed the lives of this youngster and millions of others -- particularly in the UK and Europe -- for good. To the point where these same folk, now in their twenties and thirties and often still in computing (working on machines hundreds of times more powerful), still turn their ear to the past, where they can still hear that little black box beeping plaintively at them, its siren song calling them back for one more game of Jet Set Willy...
Stop me, stop me! I'm afraid to say that even today I am, despite sitting before a Pentium as I type this, still a Spectrum addict. And, it seems, I am not alone. The 'net is home to a plethora of Web and FTP sites, and even a whole newsgroup (comp.sys.sinclair), devoted entirely to the love and preservation of all things Sinclair, such as the Spectrum16/48/128, ZX80/81, QL and so on. (I haven't room to expand on the Internet's Spectrum fan base here, but can recommend the comp.sys.sinclair FAQ as an excellent starting point.)
...and the program has rarely been switched off since! In the league of my all-time favourite OS/2 apps, x128 OS/2 is already nudging up there with PMMail and Object Desktop -- and only after a few days' usage. Briefly, x128 is a PM-based Spectrum emulator which uses DIVE for the video interface. It is capable of running programs written for the original 16K and 48K Spectrum models, as well as the slightly later Spectrum 128.
As one might guess from the name, x128 requires the EMX runtime to run (the necessary files are included in the archive though). It also needs a 486DX2-66 or better, Warp 3 or 4 and DIVE and DART-compatible video and sound hardware (most modern cards fall within this category). On my machine the program loads within a few seconds, and has not crashed once; considering the intensity of my usage of the program lately, this is most impressive, and a major plus point.
For those concerned about copyright, many of the original game authors have given permission for their old games to be used this way (many are still in the business, now writing games for the PC or consoles). x128 can use both .sna and .z80 snapshots -- as long as the actual files are sound they should present no problems. I've had no corrupted files to date, except for one which merely "rebooted" the Spectrum "inside" the emulator. Set up the program object to associate with .sna and .z80 files, and a double-click will take you straight into the game.
Watching the emulator in action is quite remarkable, because it's so eerily true to the "feel" of a Spectrum (GIF, 7.6k) -- sound, video, speed and all. I found snapshots of all my old faves (Manic Miner [GIF, 6.5k] and most of the Ultimate Play The Game range like Jetpac [GIF, 3.5k], Trans Am and Lunar Jetman ) and all the memories and gameplay methods came flooding back instantly. For someone who spent many hours on the Spectrum in the early 80s, playing an original Spectrum game in a window on one's OS/2 Desktop is an experience which takes some getting used to.
In fact, just before publishing, a new version was released (it can be found on the x128 home page mentioned above). As promised, it has drag-n-drop and a few other refinements.
And a little rainbow across one corner.
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Copyright © 1997 - Falcon Networking