Just some background that most of you know anyway, as I head toward 59 this year I look back a how it all started, NO, not the mum and dad and what they did stuff but how I got in to computing etc and what made me the retro lover I am today.
I was always interested in technical stuff, as a kid I took apart the alarm clock, it was one of those flip over numbers types and I just had to know how it worked. I proved I was excellent at taking it apart in to a million bits but then realised I had made no effort to remember how it went back together, I tried and also discovered I was too thick to work out how to reassemble it. My parents were not so happy about my attempts at conquering the electronics industry, so I got a belt on my arse.
It didn't dampen my interests but had to be very selective what I turned my eye to. I left school with a huge 1 O'Level in art and various poor grades in Maths and English, I wasn't about to start making an empire but I wanted to work as soon as possible, there were Hi fi's I wanted, girls, a camera, girls, a car, GIRLS but the money wasn't great but began working in a Special Needs school as a teaching assistant, basically a dogs body but I loved it, no two days were the same and apart from bites, my thumb being turned backwards and all that sort of stuff I actually liked the work and would have stayed but I had started to get the computer bug and the ZX80 was out about the same time I got married so I got one with what little savings I had made. I truly had no idea what to expect, home computers were brand new to the world, the nearest I had to that was a Grandstand pong machine, I had no clue about programming but the idea of a computer was amazing so I struggled with the ZX80 and later went to a ZX81 with wobbly ram pack, the ram pack was my first purchase with my first credit card. After the 81 I saw a Vic20 and its colour graphics, had to have one. I then started going in to Maplins, an electronics retailer who did the Atari line, brand new as it was.
And then an incredible incident happened that would change my life. I'm originally from Belfast and the troubles forced us to leave in the middle of the night but my older brother who was 9yrs older had already left and moved to England to do his education, he was one who got the smarts. So there was many years where I had not seen him but one night Cindy and I went to the cinema in London, the film we wanted to see was sold out so we watched Blade Runner instead, so there me and cindy watching but I notice the bloke next to me is looking at me oddly, now he looked familiar but nothing was said but as we left we were behind the guy and I went up and said "you look familiar" to which he says "Paul?" and yeah, it was my brother. What were the odds of that, wrong film, same cinema, same day, same time slot and sat next to him. We chatted and I told him where we were etc as he had not kept in touch as him and my old man didn't get on. So we plan a meet at our mums flat and he brings over an Atari 400 and lends it to me. I was then hooked. At the same time Maplins needed a salesman and I had teched up on the Atari by then and because I was always in there using the computers and helping others I got the job. The rest is history, I met so many of my idols in person, had dealings in the pirate scene, was best mates with the first computer pirate to be taken to court in the UK and all around had a great time and owned so many machines. I loved my Atari but I went were the games were so had no allegiance to Atari, I got a C64, an Amiga and then the era of the more powerful home consoles arrived, Playstation, Xbox, Gamecube and all the others, I loved them all and own most till this day. The others I emulated but have slowly got the real things thanks to some great swaps with people on Atari sector, in fact just yesterday I put a 1TB drive in to an old crystal Xbox. Like many I have had losses of gear and joys of getting it back, I still love this hobby, its allowed me to meet so many wonderful people on forums like here and swapped stories with like minded souls.
So that's me, I can't say to look at all machines enough times, being a fan boy just leaves you missing out on great games and machines.