Sunday, July 7, 2024

Dragon / Dragonsoft

Kenfig Industrial Estate, Margam, Port Talbot, West Glamorgan, SA 13 

Jumpjet, Dragon Data software
Dragon computers are one of the "nearly" stories of the UK hardware industry. A good design and early success undermined by a parent company in financial difficulties. My aunt brought one on clearance in 1984 because she wanted to get one of these new-fangled computer thingies everyone was going on about, and for a long time that was my only experience of the Dragon range. A bit of a joke. A cautionary tale about what happens when go into Dixons and ask the salesman what computer they recommend and trust them to sell you the latest technology.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Bulletin 1000

Eardley House, 182/184 Campden Hill Road, London, W8

"Hi, my name is Jeremy and I'd like to welcome you to the first issue of Bulletin 1000 Video Magazine which we're bringing to you from the Video Cafe here in the heart of London's West End. Over the coming months we will be bringing you details and indeed showing you advertisements featuring highlights of some of the best software from the leading software houses. In addition we'll be running competitions which could get your face here on this very screen and win you some great prizes such as software, monitors, computers, joysticks, and lots lots more. Including the chance to be a video disc jockey for the evening here at London's Video Care but more of that later."

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Amiga Point of View issue 5

Commercial break.

People are still making fanzines. This is fantastic news. Just recently I've been enjoying issue five of APoV, AMIGA POINT OF VIEW printed barely 14 years after issue four. It's got reviews, articles, a great cover, pretty much everything you'd expect, and it's a great read. There are features on Amiga 8-bit emulators, games which never existed, and an interview with the Magnetic Fields team which I have bookmarked in case my plans for a trip to Llandudno ever achieve fruition.

You can buy APoV issue five here. $2.50 for a PDF version but UK readers also have the chance to order a print version. Go ahead and buy a copy. It gets my seal of approval.

Follow them on Twitter @APoVAmiga.

Commercial break: ends.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Grandslam Entertainment

Grandslam House, 56 Leslie Park Road, Croydon, CR0

The Running Man, C64 cover
Grandslam Entertainment was born in 1987, renamed from Argus Press Software, which had been spun off from Argus Specialist Publications, which was itself the hobby magazine division of Argus Press, which was itself a publishing company owned by BET PLC. Until 1985, BET PLC had been known as British Electric Traction and they were an absolutely enormous conglomerate who owned absolutely everything from Wembley Stadium to waste disposal specialists Biffa. They were big. And big was out of fashion in 1985. So BET PLC began divesting itself of its share of laundry companies and television companies and crane companies, and slimmed itself down. Until, in 1996, BET PLC was taken over by Rentokill and that's the end of their story.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Zeppelin Games/Merit Studios Europe/Eutechnyx/Zerolight

25 Osbourne Road, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2

Edd the Duck, C64 cover

"The north-east is a bit of a remote outpost for UK software now that Tynesoft has bitten the dust. This last bastion of Geordie publishing specialises in budget software." That's how THE ONE described Zeppelin Games, entry number one in their Software Landmarks of the UK article in October 1991. It's a short entry for a company which ended up being a big player in the UK games industry although I'm not 100% sure the company is still running today. I'll get to that later.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Atarisoft

Pole Position, BBC Micro cover
I'd like to go back to the Atari well one more time to talk about the short-lived Atarisoft UK range. I originally planned to make this part of the Atari article but it was just too long. In America, the label was a success, at least at first. Whatever plans Atari UK had for the range were disrupted at the end of July 1984 when Warner Communications sold the consumer division of Atari to Jack Tramiel. Atarisoft UK rapidly stalled and although a few games slip out across the remainder of 1984, its surprisingly difficult to make sense of what happens or why.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Atari Corp (UK) Ltd

Atari House, Railway Terrace, Slough, SL2

Atari, ET game cover
Atari was founded in 1972, and it took 10 years for them to cross the Atlantic and set up their UK subsidiary. This was well after Commodore, who arrived in 1969 in their guise as a manufacturer of typewriters, and just before Activision, who set up their UK branch in the autumn of 1983. At least, that's the simple answer. I thought the story of Atari UK was going to be an easy one to write. I was wrong.