Nº171 (7/2004)

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Hélas, ce n'est pas la traditionnelle photo de groupe de la visu de juin que vous pouvez voir en couverture de ce numéro de Juillet-Août. Notre plus récent adhérent, écossais habitant aux USA, Peter 'The Spider' Paterson a bien failli y rester à cause d'une tornade qui s'est abattue dans sa région et à détruit les maisons voisines de la sienne. Peter et son épouse Arianna vont bien et malgré de graves dégâts, leur maison est réparable. Au nom de tous les membres du club, je leur exprime toute notre compassion et nos pensées les plus chaleureuses. L'Oric, c'est aussi de la fraternité. André.

VISU du Samedi 5 Juin : Comptes-Rendus et Photos.
En Français & In English : Cassette Transfert!
Shoot Again : Gravitor!
Transférez vos programmes Apple II sur Oric!
Fabriquez vos Cartouches Super-Oric!
COMPTE RENDU DE LA VISU DU 05/06/1999 Une pâle copie(:-) du style inimitable de notre vénéré président, pour vous raconter la visu parisienne de cet été...


Exclusive: An Interview of John Sinclair   Page 19-20
Dino fait 'Le Chat'   Page 18
Cartoon : Les Fadas de l'Eniac   Page 12
Listings : Démo Hires & Electric Eel   Page 2, 48-50
Cartouches Super-Oric   Page 11, 13-18
Les Calembours de Schizo Dino   Page 10, 50, 63
Comptes-Rendus de la Visu du 5 Juin 2004   Page 9-10
Spider Home was hit by Tornado   Page 7-8
Courrier Oricien & Bonnes Adresses   Page 3-6
Adresses CEO / Sommaire / Editorial   Page 2
Software Compatibility between Oric and Apple 2   Page 21-23
Brèves : Alistair Way   Page 24
Je Vous Parle d'un Temps   Page 25-30
Oric and other 8/16 Bit Computers   Page 31-33
Transfert de Cassettes et Correction d'erreur (2/3)   Page 34-39
Schéma de l'Oric-1 / Oric-1 Circuit Diagram   Page 40-41
Tapes Transfers and Errors Correction (1/3)   Page 42-43
Quelques Photos de la Visu du 5 Juin 2004   Page 44-47
Divertissements Mathématiques et Logiques   Page 51
ULA Hacking : Double Buffering of Video Ram   Page 52-55
Réponses (42) : Sujets n°114 & 116   Page 56-59
Shoot Again (62) : Gravitor   Page 60-61
Nostalgie : Le Telestrat IS de Thierry Bestel   Page 62-63
Des Trucs pour Tricher (16) : Encounter Adventure (4)   Page 64-67
La Librairie Oric (49) : Programmation sur Oric   Page 68
CEO Subscription Form - Back Issue Order Form   Page 69
Abonnement 2004, Anciens Numéros, Anciennes Disquettes   Page 70

Exclusive: An interview of John Sinclair!
by Steve Marshall

SM: Thanks for agreeing to the interview. How did you get into computers and what was the first machine you owned?
JS: The first machine I owned was a ZX80. We built it ourselves to save money. The first one I programmed was my uncle Ian's Tangerine, which is why I got into computers.
SM: When did you start programming? What sort of programs did you write initially?
JS: I started when I was 13. The first programs I tried were just conversions of Commodore PET programs copied from Personal Computer World. The «ooslam» bird rings a bell.
SM: How did you decide to turn your hobby in to a business?
JS: It was a bit of luck really. I got one of the first BBC computers built. It was a model A, with 16K memory, there was some problem with model B's I think. We tried to buy some software and there wasn't any. So I wrote some. My uncle had the idea of putting a small advert in PCW, and the response was amazing. We took it from there. The times were so much fun, it never really felt like business.
SM: What did IJK stand for?
JS: Ian (uncle), John (me) and Keith (dad). The logo is our initials IS JS KS
SM: Is that the same Ian Sinclair that wrote the Oric books, ‘Oric-1 and how to get the most from it' and ‘ Oric and Atmos Machine Code'?
JS: Nope, but they were often confused.
SM: When did you come across the Oric and what made you decide to support it commercially?
JS: We saw it at a computer show (can't remember the date). The specifications looked very interesting and it was a 6502 like the Beeb. We decided to try and get one of the first ones and try and get some of the first software out.
SM: Most Oric software houses seemed to struggle to get in to the shops, but your software was in high street stores like W.H. Smiths, Lasky's, Boots. Did you have any difficulties?
JS: We already had an established dealer network from the BBC stuff.
SM: At some point your software became ‘Oric Approved' - presumably after the success of Xenon-1. Did they give you any help in producing software? Did you get involved with any of the Tansoft guys, like Paul Kaufman?
JS: Tansoft weren't our biggest fans, but the people from Oric themselves, Paul Johnson and the like were big fans of Xenon. They provided full source code of the Microsoft Basic and full circuit diagrams inc. details of the graphics ULA. I even got a ride in the famous Ferrari. Pretty cool when you're bunking off School at 15.
SM: Programmers like Stephen Haigh wrote games for you, but he also wrote for Severn software. Did you actively seek out programmers and/or commission them to write software or did you rely on whatever people sent to you?
JS: At first we built up a core team of programmers like Barry Cridland (Invaders) by word of mouth and commissioned. Eventually, we were constantly getting games sent unsolicited through the post.
SM: It seemed that each machine at the time had a certain crop if titles; - Frogger, Invaders, Pacman, Othello, Chess etc. Did you work towards providing such titles or was it down to whatever came along?
JS: We always tried to publish the standards first: - Invaders, Pacman Chess. First is a great marketing advantage.
SM: IJK produced some great software. Chess was very good, the Xenon series was a favourite amongst Oricians and people still admire the quality of Damsel in Distress. That one is so hard! Did you play test the games - do you (or did you) have any tips?
JS: I played most of the games. Some I liked better than others.
SM: When the Atmos was released the Oric Microdiscs arrived after a long wait! Were any IJK titles officially released on disk?
JS: I don't believe so.
SM: How much were you aware of Oric's success in France?
JS: Very. We sold more products to France than the rest of the world put together (inc UK)
SM: How much did you try and sell software over there and was it successful?
JS: We had a very good dealer in France. The name escapes me. But I can remember us getting an order for 60,000 units. There was big money to be made in those days.
SM: Were any titles (i.e. the software) translated?
JS: No. British arrogance I suppose.
SM: What other computers did IJK write software for?
JS: BBC, Electron, Oric, Amstrad CPC thing, and C64.
SM: I don't recall seeing many IJK titles after the demise of Oric. How long did it survive - what happened to IJK?
JS: We wrote many titles for the C64 for a couple of years. The problem with the C64 was the number of titles available. That meant sales per title we low. The cost to produce a game was higher. We decided to put the money from IJK into Duplidata who manufactured and distributed games for other companies, inc Firebird (BT) and Ocean Software. IJK eventually withered and died.
SM: What Oric titles were you happiest with?
JS: Xenon. I think. It was a defining moment in IJK's history. It wasn't the best game ever written for the Oric, but it was at that time. It opened a lot of doors for us.
SM: What non-Oric titles were you most proud of?
JS: Rocketball for the Commodore 64. It has the best gameplay of any game we wrote. It was so good, the launch of the product was delayed because we spent so much time playing the two-player version the one player bit was very late. Looking on the net, others liked it too.
SM: About the IJK joystick. Was that designed or commissioned by IJK or did IJK help out with distribution and promotion?
JS: We were approached, like many things, to market it. We did help a little by providing details of the keyboard bits of Xenon and Zorgon.
SM: Can you tell us something about Tetra Systems?
JS: Tetra Systems is my own company started 15 years ago. We started by creating devices for people with disabilities to access computers. So they could play games too. Eventually that led to a LCD based keyboard and mouse emulator, the Matchmaker (Mitsubishi M8 based a 6502 derivative !!). This was sold to people such as IBM, and the Bank of England for more serious purposes.
I then developed the SRS100, a LCD based home control system for people in wheelchairs. The rights to that were bought by SRS Technology PLC who I own a stake in. We have developed numerous products in the same vein and are now a leading supplier of this equipment to the NHS. We sell throughout the world inc. Hong Kong, Australia and the US. Funnly enough France is one of the few major countries in the world we don't sell to.
A lot of our early peripherals were based on the PIC microcontroller (1k bytes). Experience trying to squeeze stuff into early computers was a big help.
SM: Do you use any emulators and have any involvement with the retro scene?
JS: I did when the emulators were first created. It was really great seeing the old stuff again. I don't have any involvement at the moment, time doesn't allow, but it's absolutely fabulous seeing your work of 20 years ago published and reviewed again. Keep up the good work.
SM: Fancy writing some Oric games? ;o)
JS: No. But, the games I see on Java phones have tempted me to come out of retirement.
SM: What are you and the other Sinclair's up to now?
JS: I work for Tetra Systems and SRS Technology designing hardware and writing software. I live on my farm in the Highlands of Scotland.
Ian is still in Blackpool. He run's Techpoint a successor to Duplidata, still manufacturing software.
My Dad, Keith, is retired and currently a freelance Chef. He's cooking for a party of American's up by me (on the Isle of Mull) at the moment.
SM: Many thanks for doing the interview, John.
JS: Thanks for the interest.


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