Writing for the early UK Home Computing mags

Simon N Goodwin reminiscences

This article deals mainly with my work for home computing magazines in the 1980s. It was prompted by an email from Andy Krouel, who contacted me while researching an article about the heyday of magazine type-in program listings for Retro Gamer magazine, not long after I retired from writing magazine articles - or at least, stopped trying to get paid for them. It was updated with corrections and a draft softography, in June 2007, and more corrections and a new anecdote in September 2014.

Support all readers with open standards (1K)

The focus of this article is therefore on selling program listings, and especially games, to micro mags, but it compares that activity with other types of freelance writing and other ways of selling home computer software. There are details of some of the programs I've written for retail sale, as opposed to publication in magazines, on the commercial page on this site.

Computing Today Colour Genie cover

Over the years I reviewed a shedload of micro hardware for the mags, including computers like the EACA Colour Genie, Sinclair Z88, CST's Thor XVI, MGT's SAM Coupe, Amstrad Spectrum Plus Two, Commodore C64C and the Acorn BBC Master Compact, and lots of peripherals, especially disk drives and audio gadgets. I also reviewed software for systems like the Memotech, TRS-80 and most of all Sinclair`s Spectrum and Quantum Leap (QL), and various micro books and magazines.

None of these odd jobs really repaid the time they took, except through the synergy that comes from doing things and writing about how others do them, writing about what others write about doing them, and so on. I even managed to review my own stuff a few times - scrupulously fairly, of course - at which point the process at last starts to become profitable. :-) The weird thing about media work, compared with making things for sale, is that the more times you sell the same thing over and over again, the more it seems to be worth.

Life's too short for me to count the listings I've sold to UK magazines; it's certainly more than 100, but probably no more than 200, over a 20 year period. The last was in May 2000 for Amiga Format issue 136, though there have been others in non-professional magazines since. I don't think any of the snippets I've put in Linux Format since then really count as type-ins in the traditional sense. Magazines that have published my code include Computing Today, Practical Computing, Games Computing, Personal Computing Today, Your Spectrum, Personal Software, Sinclair QL World, Digital and Micro Electronics, ZX Computing, The War Machine, Computer Shopper, Crash, A & B Computing, and Home Computing Weekly - these have included games and utility listings for Apple ][, Video Genie, BBC Micro, Sinclair Spectrum and QL, CST Thor and Amiga home computers.

I still have almost all of them accessible, on paper as printed and in machine-readable form - on the original Video Genie cassettes or floppy disks (the machine is still set up, and I used it to write articles for almost 15 years) but more readily on a partition on the Amiga 4000 I'm using to draft this text.

They have been transferred via Qdos (Sinclair's QL operating system) as some of my QLs can read the single density 85K Video Genie format which 'modern' disk controllers cannot; I've written a QL SuperBASIC program that decodes various TRS-80 and Genie directory structures and disk formats, and converts the Scripsit control codes to ANSI. Then a handler for my Amiga lets me read 720K and 1.44 Mb QL floppies.

Going freelance

I was inspired to become a freelance writer by SF writer Isaac Asimov, who told of his battle to get into print and encouraged readers to keep trying. From the age of 13 I followed his advice, and my first article was accepted by Electronics Today International a couple of years later. This was a one-transistor project - a guitar wah-wah effect controlled by light - such as shadows on the fretboard - rather than the usual pedal. I was paid 15 for this - for the first and only time, on acceptance rather than a month or more after publication. I foolishly spent the money on a typewriter - foolishly since within a year or so I'd have a micro and a printer, and a home-made text editor, and be able to word-process articles.

Shop Steward - Computing Today June 1980

In the late 1970s the first home computer mags were getting into newsagents and many of the established publishers were launching new titles. Since electronics design was an expensive hit and miss business, and all I needed to write for Computing Today (from the same stable as ETI) was a micro and a printer - and I'd had access to an Apple ][ at school since 1978, and written about a dozen games on it (most still unpublished) and bought my own Video Genie soon after finishing my A levels, that was the obvious way for my writing to go - though I have sold a few circuits since.

Hobbyists could spend hours or days studying the schematics in the electronics magazines of the seventies, just as we studied listings in the eighties. You didn't have to build the circuits to be fascinated - indeed Clive Sinclair memorably said of his Babini book, '30 tested transistor circuits' that he'd 'never needed to' build them as he 'knew they would work'.

Computers were hardly used in the production of magazines in those days; ETI, Computing Today and related magazines were typeset on a big blue Compugraphic console with access to up to eight fonts at a time, counting bold and italic variations as different fonts - a 64x16 character display, two 8080 (Z80-precursor) processors, eight inch disks, a wet-paper optical printer - all for a five-digit price-tag which was out of the reach of some magazines - indeed the body text in Personal Computer World was initially produced on a souped-up IBM typewriter.

In the years I worked for them, Newsfield (publishers of Crash, ZZap 64, Amtix and The Games Machine mags) never owned their own typsetting machine but stored articles on a portable drive that was carried to the local print shop, who ran off camera-ready text for them to stick in the magazine. The words were set into single-column strips which were then glued - usually with hot wax - onto card 'boards', with smelling 'bromide' prints of photographs (overlaid with dots for offset printing) glued on, and the original listings, sometimes copied to improve the contrast, stuck alongside.

Bits would sometimes fall off on the way from the magazine office to the printers, and more often the rush to fit articles into the space would mean that chunks were missed out, especially from the end, placed out of order or duplicated , especially when a first draft had so many errors it had to be re-set and bits of both versions ended up on the slab. Unlike these days of WYSIWYG you only knew the exact space requirement for an article when all the bits were ready, and it rarely fitted the space allocated.

Editors

At Sportscene (the publishers of Your Spectrum) five people produced three magazines between them. Almost all the content came from freelance contributors. Practical Computing used to be produced by an editor, Peter Laurie, who worked two days a week, and a full time secretary. That was the entire editorial department, though Duncan Scott joined as staff writer a while later.

Space Intruders - Practical Computing 1981 (24K)

Home Computing Weekly's editorial department was essentially just one full-timer - Paul Liptrot - and a secretary. Twenty years later Paul rang me out of the blue to say he'd read an early version of this document and was proudly still not using a computer, and had never used one in the 1980s when editing one of the three UK micro weeklies.

Magazine layout was often done by people with a bit of experience in local journalism but unfamiliar with computers, let alone listings. I remember an 'art editor' picking lines from a listing apparently at random and scattering them through a long program like cross-headings, in attempt to break up the 'grey text' - which didn't make the program any easier to follow!

Computers, unlike type-setters and art-editors, tend to be very fussy about line ends, yet programs were regularly hyphenated or reformatted. Vital control codes were often lost, though some mags tried to re-express them in their own shorthand with symbols like [up] and [inv] for cursor movements and inverse video. This could introduce as many errors as it fixed, though some Commodore printers did a good job of reproducing the PETSCI characters (the PET version of ASCII, interleaved with graphic patterns and with lower-case out of order) and made listings for those machines comprehensible, if rather ugly.

ZX Computing regularly printed wobbly, grainy listings from the single-motor 49.95 Sinclair ZX printer, which burned black text into a roll of silver paper about 100mm wide, scanning with two wire spikes as the paper rolled erratically upwards accompanied by plastic grinding noises and singed smells. My own Spectramon, described as 'an incredible monitor program for the 48K ZX Spectrum', filled half a dozen pages of Personal Software and ZX Computing magazines this way, in 1983 and 1984.

The magazine staff often resorted to typesetting, in whatever fonts they had to hand (almost always proportionally-spaced, and sometimes lacking certain ASCII characters common in programs but rare in English text) to make the listings easier to read, compared with grey dotty matrix printouts, wobbly black on silver ZX Printer listings, or the portable typewriter screeds often submitted in the early days. But copy typists were untrained for the character-perfect accuracy required for listings - skipping sections when the program seemed (necessarily) to repeat itself, mistyping crucial but cryptic numbers like POKE addresses, and adding and removing spaces in ways that confounded BASIC syntax checking.

A few listings were typeset without errors, thanks to diligent editors, but these were the exception rather than the rule. By the mid-eighties type-in submissions pretty much had to come with a clear printout. They were rarely printed again by the magazine, for want of time and patience, so I was hardly ever asked for a cassette along with my submissions, and there was little pretence of testing the programs, on the part of the publishers.

If a type-in was presented as a raw listing from the original author, ideally monospaced and formatted to the same width as the computer display to make line-wraps obvious, you'd have a fair chance of getting it to work. Otherwise you'd have to be quite a smart coder, or very lucky, to get any substantial type-in listing to run. That said, a lot of people found listings interesting without having to type them in. BASIC was a new world, and even short sections of a program could be illuminating, or worth adapting even without the context or the detail.

Getting paid

Payments for programs typically ranged from 5 to 50, with only the most exceptional listings earning three figure sums. I was paid by the page, so graphics, tables and 'conversion notes' were vital to bulk out the listing and make it more palettable to readers more likely to be browsing than to type in a whole listing, without error, even assuming they owned the relevant hardware.

I earned a token 5 a time for early contributions to 'Apple Pie' in Practical Computing, but 'Shop Steward' in Computing Today brought in a very handy 90. While the magazine income was not enough to live on (it never was, even later when I wrote about a fifth of the editorial in a few mags) it more than covered the costs of the hobby.

Back in the 1970s some magazines paid on acceptance, so the first you knew an article would eventually appear was when you got a cheque and a brief covering letter, but before long they all switched to payment 'upon publication' which meant, if you were lucky, at the end of the month named on the cover of the magazine, typically six to eight weeks after publication, that rarely less than three months after submission.

Runaway Robot debut on the cover of Games Computing in 1983 (10K)

It was quite common to wait six months or more for payment, even if the tentative acceptance letter came back a couple of weeks after submission.

Getting published

There was a lot of luck involved in getting a program published (as there is still is now, in games - the difference being that these days it takes dozens of people a year or two and millions of pounds to get something that might, hopefully, pick up a publisher and then (with more luck) get paid for). Back then I reckoned getting paid was usually about as much work as writing the program in the first place (arguably no change there, either) and your luck depended a lot on timing; if the editors had seen something similar, or not, had a space of about the right size just at deadline-time, or wanted to balance coverage of the dozen or so variously hot micros of the moment, your chance would zoom up or down, with the quality of the program often a minor factor in the decision.

Layout was also important - a neatly-printed accompanying article, double-spaced with wide margins for markup for typesetters, improved your chances and made it obvious at first sight that you'd some grasp of what the editors needed.

The personal tastes of editors, and the relationship built up with them over many submissions - successful or otherwise - was also a key factor. Even if you didn't ever meet an editor - and after a while I met most of mine, though I gather few contributors did - you could get a feel for their tastes by carefully reading their magazines, and their rivals.

Magazines would usually respond to unwanted contributions with a form letter. Personal Computer World used a multiple-choice postcard. Boxes to tick included:

[] We can't get the program to work
[] Many similar articles have been submitted
[] It contains factual errors
[] It's out of date
[] It's sexist
[] It's boring
[] It's too large
[] It's too small
[] We couldn't understand a word of it

I used to stumble on [] The content is unsuitable ;-) Nonetheless I was eventually a columnist for Personal Computer World when it was at its peak, selling over 100,000 copies a month, in the mid 1980s - answering readers' tech questions in the 'Computer Answers' section - for several years.

Several times I've had listings enthusiastically published in one magazine after another had turned it down dismissively. The advice from Asimov about re-submission helped me there, though I still had to wait for a definite no before trying another publisher as it was bad form to send the same thing to more than one editor at a time. This did sometimes happen, by accident or design, and could poison the relationship between freelance contributors and magazines. There were some interesting rip-offs, too, as I shall explain...

Getting ripped off

I wrote the main game featured on the cover of the first issue of Games Computing, Runaway Robot, published in 1984, with Jon Smith who also collaborated with me on part of the Zip Compiler for Your Spectrum. That went down well; it was inspired by a TRS-80 listing I'd seen in Practical Computing years before, which generated random mazes, though the code and graphics were entirely different. We were paid 105 for the article and listing, which provided the theme for the cover of the debut issue of the magazine.

However three pages later in the same issue of Games Computing magazine there was a blatant rip-off - a game dubbed 'Westminster' for an expanded VIC-20, which just happened to use exactly the same variable names, line numbers, program structure and even comments as 'Whitehall', a listing I'd sold to Practical Computing a couple of years earlier. The most significant differences, other than adaptations for the small VIC-20 display, were that the plagiarist had got the spelling of words like "parliament", "prime minister" and "scandal" wrong.

In the next issue editor Elspeth Joiner wrote "thank you for pointing that out to us Simon and I am sorry to say that this case is not the only one to have arisen ... As there are so many computer magazines now on sale we have to rely on the author to tell us whether or not his/her game has been copied from someone else's work, as it would be an almost impossible task to check every program in every issue of every magazine on sale to the public" ("The Runaway Robot Replies", Games Computing, March 1984, page 68).

Practical Computing featured my 'Yes, Minister' game Whitehall on the cover (31K)

Atari Computing ran a conversion of my Shop Steward game without crediting me as the author; I later found out that they paid the person who did the conversion 100, which was a tenner more than I got for the original, and got them to agree to pay me the same.

When I was working for Crash an idiot even sent me one of my own programs, typed in from a magazine, to review as a commercial tape! In November 1985 I reviewed "The ZX Microdrive Auto-formatter" in my Tech Tips column, as follows: "I couldn't help noticing that the program resembled a listing from Home Computing Weakly (sic) No. 53, published getting on for two years ago. I might not have noticed the resemblance if it hadn't been for the fact that I wrote the magazine listing, and an accompaning article about the vagiaries of microdrives.

"Anyhow, I decided to try to copy the 'super-formatter' onto microdrive (The Softshop charge an extra 1 to supply the program on a cartridge). The tape version is 'protected' against copying, so it took about a minute to get the program file off the tape and expose the listing. At this point my suspicions were confirmed.

"The so-called 'super-formatter' was an exact copy of my magazine program, although it did incorporate a 'help' screen. The sequence of commands, variable and filenames was identical to the published listing, which ran to just 29 BASIC lines, including REMs. The magazine cost 40p, rather than the 4.95 that Softshop are asking for a program they didn't write and couldn't even copy out without screwing up the spelling."

Confusion was also caused because a couple of other magazine contributors had the same name as me - I'm Simon N. Goodwin, and the author of rather more articles than the other two put together. Simon P. Goodwin worked for C&VG in the early days, and then for Beyond Software, while Simon T Goodwin wrote about Amstrads for Popular Computing Weekly. I wrote about this in my June 1987 Crash column: "As far as I know, I'm the only one who writes about Sinclair computers. If you're called Simon Goodwin too, I'd advise you to change your name now, or pick a different hobby!"

There may be others - in any case several times I received payment intended for another Simon Goodwin and had to return it to the publishers concerned. In some cases it was quite an eye-opener to see how little the others were getting for their work.

Andy Krowel asked me, "as a professional developer, how did work on magazine listings compare to the commercial software?"

It was one end of a continuum; I couldn't get a few thousand lines of minicomputer assembly-language photoplotter driver into a magazine (though perhaps I should have tried) but I was able to write programs for magazines using the same skills (and vice versa) - though for less money and a bigger audience, more quickly and with more freedom.

Sniper screen-dumps; the original resolution was 128x48 pixels, 64x16 text (8K)

Writing a program is most of the work in selling a listing - the remainder is the documentation, the pitch to the mag, and (if you can be bothered) chasing up payment (I could); oh, and a bit of testing, though for simple magazine games along well-tried lines, that's more for fun than for work. Programming is a relatively small fraction of the work in selling commercial software. Design, testing, documentation, maintenance and presentation dwarf the programming effort - even in a large team, when you must spend more time talking than you can coding.

MBASIC, the core of most pre-Sinclair micros, was a clone of DEC BASIC plus (no change at M$, then!) so I was using a similar interpreter at work - and could develop games at lunchtime and port them easily to my home computers, and apply non-graphical techniques from work in micro game programming.

Later I was writing software in Zilog's own BASIC at work, with a bit of Z80 code; Sinclair's BASIC was a lot more powerful than the chip-makers own offering, and much easier to test (as you could resume despite changes, unlike MBASIC). Zilog did offer real (eight inch) megabyte floppy drives, but the magnetic coating soon got ground off the disks - at least the ZX Microdrive didn't do that.

One crucial difference which micros introduced was that it was practical to develop and document programs on the same hardware that others would use to run it. This was rare in the seventies, and is still surprisingly rare today. Typically we use one machine to control another that runs the game, as we did before micros, when development and consumer hardware were usually different.

Crashes are more likely if your devkit is also your test-station, but debugging and configuration are far easier. In an interpreted system like BASIC where the editor is well-integrated and you're protected against wild pointers unless you deliberately POKE, the advantages far outweigh the snags, especially with add-on coding and editing toolkits (and no linkage overhead). The commercial pressure to squeeze every last drop out of performance out of a consumer product makes native development problematic these days.

By 1989 QL World was one of the last mags taking type-ins seriously (4K)

Wild pointers, idiot linkers, and typical poorly-integrated IDEs mean small programs could be developed much faster on old micros than on new ones - as emulator users will know, once they've got their host up. ;-) Real micros start faster and they're silent - no bloody fans, hurrah - making it much easier to think and carry lots of information in your head as you program - which is the key to fast, reliable coding.

Writing programs for publication as listings in magazines encouraged me to write programs for hack value, to try things out, and for re-use. It also made me a quick study. Some of the games I wrote for Elspeth Joiner's magazines were coded, documented and posted the same day, including hyperbolic introductions, conversion notes, screenshots and camera-ready listings. One day I got up at noon (I was a student, of course), fired up my Genie and wrote, documented and tested Sniper for Personal Computing Today (first published March 1983) and caught the post at 5.30pm. It came out quite well, three months or so later, and earned me 75.

But you can only do that when you've got multiple-key input, sound, collision detection and (admitedly low-res) animation off pat after writing a dozen or so games, and the idea was probably cooking in my head for weeks before. Argus then reprinted the three page article in their quarterly 'Personal Software' mag six months later.

Alas I didn't get paid for the re-tread, or the reprise of Shop Steward from Computing Today to the undated magazine 'Home Computing Games programs' a year later, etc, etc - though I did get paid for the rewrite in Atari Computing, mainly because I knew the editors face-to-face by then, the program was reused without attribution, and I made a fuss. And I've made a point of assigning first use, limited period or non-exclusive rights ever since.

Spectramon popped up several times in 1982 and 1983 (5K)

My slow but capable (once the extra "9" from data line 6090 was expunged) Z80 disassembler Spectramon was written in three days, soon after I got my Spectrum, in a burst of activity to find out how the ROM was structured, and to learn the keyword entry system (it worked, and I could enter code as fast as I could think of it thereafter, despite Sinclair's neglect of key rollover).

I carried on writing my articles in Scripsit on the Video Genie for a decade after, as though it had less than half the CPU power of a ZX-81 it coped fine with fast typing and scrolling, and was so fault-tolerant that I could power-cycle the computer, reload TRS-DOS or NewDOS and Scripsit on top, and still find my text intact in the pillow-sized 32K expansion box ribbon- cabled to the back of the Genie.

Spectramon filled about ten pages in two issues of ZX Computing, and then another nine in the Spring 1984 issue of Personal Software, including a spread and a half of raw but accurate ZX-printer output - Argus got quite good at rendering silver printouts legibly in web-offset printed magazines. Not content with this over-exposure they then sold it on cassette, and I was paid 10% royalties - a total comparable to the amount I got for the original rights to the listing and article - over the following year, via APS - Argus Press Software - which economically reordered the Argus Specialist Press acronym and logo to flog the same stuff again.

And I made a much faster version, SamRAMScan, with extra graphics monitoring capabilities, for the magnetic magazine Sam Supplement about five years later, though that one was free. Argus put the covers for these retread cassettes together in a hurry, and apropriately named editor Henry Budgett chose to run the disassembler over an early part of the Spectrum ROM for the cover image, which was unfortunate as he 'disassembled' the BASIC keyword table, which didn't make much sense as it was text, not Z80 code. :-)

The ultimate lazy listing publication was Duckworth's book of the Dragon system software, which appeared to be an uncommented machine-generated disassembly of the ROM code (and the text) un-padded by any explanation or labels for the routines. Those were the days!

But some programs, such as the Zip compiler and associated demos, took months to write. By that time I'd worked out that the real money was in selling the same thing over and over (like Microsoft, but with significant improvements and at much lower cost) and ZX Computing editor Roger Munford had moved from Argus Press to Bunch Books/Sportscene (now Dennis Publishing, named after boss Felix the former Oz obscenity trial defendant) who were the initial publishers of Personal Computer World, now tooling up to produce platform-specific mags like Your Spectrum, Your 64, QL User, etc.

Personal Software collated articles from other Argus mags (23K)

Program listings were popular in the early days of home computing because superficially, they offered something for nothing - or a 5 or 10 value for the price of a mag - usually less than a quid - plus some 'interesting' time typing it in. In those days there were lots of micros, all programmable in BASIC but with endless implementation variations. Most early home computer enthusiasts were accustomed to writing or adapting software in some way, to suit their machines.

Only a few listings, most often in Your Computer, were of commercial quality; even that may be more a criticism of commercial releases than praise for the type-ins. People could learn from them - by making minor tweaks, fixing the bugs or (more often) reproduction or typing errors, or copying routines or ideas in the code. You could spend a lot of time reading a BASIC listing, especially for another micro, but as the market grew from hobbyists to consumers the proportion of people (mostly schoolboys and absent dads) inclined to bother with listings became a minority, even for the micros that were relatively programmer-friendly, like Sinclair, BBC and Tandy machines.

Atari, Apple and Commodore systems were harder to program and attracted fewer amateur BASIC coders, though they were great fun for 6502 assembler jocks - 6502 assembler, let alone hex dumps, don't make great reading.

Magazines liked listings because they filled space between the adverts that were their main source of revenue, and they were plentiful, varied, topical and cheap. Magazines stopped publishing listings in the late 1980s, as the number of hobbyists didn't grow as fast as the number of consumers; cover-mounts burgeoned as small newsagents reckoned that 'any comic with a free gift' was worth keeping on the shelf, even at a far higher cover price; the cost of tape duplication became low, compared with printing, leading to tape-and-card (and later disk or even CD and card) retail publications like 16/48, Atari Computing, etc. with some token editorial on the tape and lots of cheap programs you didn't need to type in.

The US TRS-80 and Apple publication Softside pioneered this niche, though it was not widely distributed in Europe.

I was not only a contributor of listings but later an editor of them as a techie columnist for mags like Crash, Computer Shopper and QL World; the office staff sent listings to me for consideration.

After a bit of digging I found a letter I wrote to one of many would-be contributors which sets out the issues that had become apparent by the mid 1980s and lead to the decline of listings in magazines. The following quote is verbatim (from my Genie, including Scripsit formatting markup!) apart from the deletion of the full name of the person who wrote to me, and more discussion of why his idea was old hat and what might yet be interesting:

>PL=70 TM=1 BM=68 C=Y 

CRASH Magazine 1-2 King Street Ludlow Shropshire SY8 1AQ  0584
5620/5851  

>C=N FR=Y

 24th April 1986.

>FR=N J=Y

Dear Paul,

Thank you for your letter of 5th April to Crash, which
was passed on to me, the compiler of Crash's Tech Tips 
column.  Crash isn't really a listings magazine; we avoid
publishing listings unless they are very short and
innovative, or essential to a feature.

There are several problems with listings; to some readers
they're completely unintelligible (and therefore a put-off);
they often get misprinted, simply because of the very large
number of hands all material for a professional magazine
goes through; and - even if they're printed correctly -
they are often mistyped, causing a flood of spurious
complaints which must be sorted out by editorial staff who
should really be working on the next but-one issue of the
magazine.

Indeed, in the latest (May) Crash we've had a layout
disaster, in that a brief routine intended to appear in
Tech Tips has been 'lost' by Art.  But the real
problem with your program is that it is far from a new
idea... 'stipples' are commonly used in games and
programming tools (such as Mega BASIC). Explanations of
the idea (which is, in any case, very simple) have
appeared in Your Computer, Popular Computing Weekly
and Your Spectrum. 

Yours sincerely,  Simon N Goodwin    Crash Tech Tips.

Ups and downs

At the end of the interview for Retro Gamer magazine, Andy asked "What was your worst experience with a type-in listing magazine?"

Spectrum, Video Genie and QL setups in Simon's office on the Wolverhampton Road on the outskirts of Birmingham, UK in the late 80s (12K)

It was Sportscene (Your Spectrum) garbling part 2 of the Zip Compiler series. I got lots of angry letters, and I'd bust a gut to produce the article so I was really upset when that - and various other typos introduced in production - happened. Still, it probably boosted sales of the optimised tape version (about 1,600, first time around - rather more for various updates, since), as noted on the commercial page.

My best experience was getting Shop Steward (an industrial relations game!) onto three pages of Computing Today in 1980, including a full-page flowchart superimposed on stock photos from the film 'I'm all right Jack.' I was paid 30 per page, not bad when my take-home wage was 39.09 a week working as a teenage programmer for the Computer Aided Design division of Racal. I sold longer listings and bigger articles, but that was the first big one, well-presented without errors, and I was thrilled when it came out. I still like to see my name in print, and get annoyed when my articles are sub-edited into gibberish, but I know of easier ways to get paid, these days.


Further reading

Similar information about my programs sold on disc and tape also on this site.

My reviews of over a hundred emulators that run on Amiga systems.

My reviews of emulators that run on Linux systems.

Links to Simon's open source programs and other articles online

Friendly enquiries about this page are welcome. You can contact me by email to simon at mooli.org.uk, but please do not post this address online.


Addenda (to be extended, plus pictures, another day)

Simon N Goodwin's Select Softography:

Game ProgramPlatformPublisherYear
Deviant Games Apple ][ Practical Computing 1980
Shop Steward Apple ][ Computing Today 1980
Suicide BombersApple ][ Practical Computing 1980
Space IntrudersApple ][ Practical Computing 1980
Holocaust Video GenieComputing Today 1981
Dropout TRS80/GeniePersonal Computer World 1981
Shop Steward Apple ][ Home Computing Games 1981
Gladiators DEC BASIC+ Computing Today 1981
Whitehall Apple ][ Practical Computing 1982
Holocaust Video GeniePersonal Software 1982
Sniper Video GeniePersonal Computing Today1983
Shop Steward Atari 800 Atari Computing 1983
Sniper Video GeniePersonal Software 1983
Runaway Robot ZX SpectrumGames Computing 1984
Westminster VIC-20 Games Computing 1984
Star Base ZX SpectrumYour Spectrum 1984

The Atari 800 and Vic-20 releases were initially-unacknowledged conversions of programs I'd written and previously published. Others duplicate titles were licenced adaptations for affiliated magazines.



Utility ProgramPlatformPublisherYear
Last Variable Apple ][ Practical Computing 1980
Text Compression Video GenieComputing Today 1981
Single Transferable VoteApple ][Practical Computing 1981
Video Dump Video GenieComputing Today 1982
Disassembler BBC Micro A&B Computing 1982
Spectramon ZX SpectrumZX Computing 1983
Sim-1 algorithm ZX-81/GenieEmjay/The War Machine 1983
Pascal Tiny BASIC Video GenieComputing Today 1983
Easycode (series) Video GenieComputing Today 1984
Zip BASIC compilerZX SpectrumYour Spectrum 1984
Spectramon ZX SpectrumPersonal Software 1984
Smooth Moves ZX SpectrumYour Spectrum 1984
Call Calculator Video GeniePersonal Computing Today1984
Spectrum Spooler QL/SpectrumYour Spectrum 1984

I'm sure I've forgotten a few.

Other magazine articles by Simon N Goodwin


Hardware projectsGenreMagazineYear
Autowah without tearsOptoelectronicsElectronics Today International1979
Interface Zero ZX SpectrumYour Spectrum 1984
The Metrodrive April Fool Hobby Electronics 1984
Genial Joysticks Video GenieDigital and Micro Electronics1984

Many more to follow!