Sam Mallard – The Case of the Missing Swan from @MMicrogames

Sam Mallard – The Case of the Missing Swan is a ZX Spectrum title from “real-media” indie publisher Monument Micro Games. The game, originally written by World of Spectrum contributor Ersh in 2016, was destined for the Commodore 64 many moons ago, but then rescued, resuscitated and re-written from scratch for our faithful rubber keyed Spec-chum.

“The clock had turned midnight and I was just about to leave my office when there was a knock on my door. It was a Mr Swan, owner of the Swanline shipping company.”

 

Mallard is a graphic adventure game, heavily inspired by film noir, and has a classic and well trodden storyline – jobbing Private Detective is hired by man to find missing wife. The game starts in Mallard’s office (where else?) after our main protagonist has accepted the case, and follows him off on the hunt of the missing and mysterious Mrs Swan.

Dispensing with the traditional typed input of this type of game, Mallard presents its information on a well laid-out screen where verb-noun choices are made via a SCUMM-esque “Action” menu by using either the keyboard or Kempston joystick. Locations are described in an uncomplicated fashion, with the majority of locations having a functional, and nicey-drawn image in the top right-hand corner. The whole screen is rendered solely in black and white fuelling further the noir atmosphere.

 

The game engine however, doesn’t come without it’s quirks:

  1. The strange “inventory” system, where you can’t EXAMINE things from the “action” menu but you have to navigate to the inventory, select the item, then select examine.
  2. Using just an up and down combination to enter a sequence of numbers (required for a telephone and the obligatory safe) several times is tiresome.
  3. Many items are not identifiable from the location text, so you are constantly selecting verbs in each area to find them.

“The End”

It’s very short, and will probably be completed in less than an hour – but don’t let that put you off. The writing is competent, makes a good stab at the genre and the author has shoehorned in a few basic teasers, a homage red herring, and a couple of thought-provoking puzzles. Fear not though, those of a The Secret of Monkey Island disposition should get the first, and the second puzzle concerning a safe is slightly harder, but very rewarding to (pun fully intended) crack.

 

In places the storyline does make huge hand-held leaps, and the end comes up a bit suddenly – feeling slightly rushed. Perhaps the author ran out of steam or reached the poor Speccy’s RAMTOP limit? Nevertheless, it’s a lovely example of the popular homebrew and indie scene that the Spectrum continues to enjoy and a testament to the passionate people behind the cottage-industry publishing labels such as Monument.

“The Swag”

 

Grabbing the game was quite an aside for me. I rarely buy new releases for old machines (my only other purchase being C64anabalt by RGCD) but I was very pleasantly surprised when the game arrived. Credit must go to Monument who have done a stellar job with the game’s packaging and contents.

The inlay is superbly designed and professionally printed and contains a hoard of goodies:

1 x art card
1 x instructions
1 x badge
1 x CD-ROM
1 x game cassette

The CD-ROM is a nice addition and contains a WAV sound file that can be streamed directly into a Spectrum emulator such as Spectaculator, or played back into a real Spectrum by using a standard audio jack cable and LOAD””ed – if you don’t have a cassette recorder. Also on the CD is a handy TAP format file that is ready to run.

Even with the short playing time, the paltry £8.50 for Mallard is fantastic value for money considering what you receive and how well the whole thing is put together. From their website blog, it seems that the game has been a success for Monument, so that’s great to hear.

What are you waiting for? Smoke your last lucky (thanks Fergus), grab your fedora and mosey on over to the publisher website and grab your own copy, or hit them up on Twitter.

http://www.monumentmicrogames.com

Acorn Electron and ZX Spectrum games that consumed my childhood

We all have our favourite games. Owning an Acorn Electron and then ZX Spectrum (+2) between the ages of 10-18 I must have played 100s of titles. These are a few that stayed with me and that I devoted most of my time to.

Acorn Electron Years

Elite (Acornsoft)

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I’m not sure that any more can be written about Elite? For me it is Britain’s Mona Lisa of videogames, our first true masterpiece of code (just 22K!!!) and open-world design. Most people recall where they were when JFK was killed, Man landed on the Moon or when Take That announced they were to split, but for me I remember where I was when I first saw the rotating Cobra MKV of Elite: Schoolfriend Simon Brock’s 10th birthday, 1984. It changed my life completely. Simon’s Dad, to address a lull in the proceedings excitedly disappeared and then reappeared, plugging in a little shoebox sized beige box into the TV. A few minutes later, the above screen burst forth from its cathode-ray-tube and that was it, I had to have it. Unfortunately, without knowing any better, I also yearned for the very machine I witnessed, leading me to be given an Acorn Electron and Elite for Christmas. Still …

Football Manager (Addictive Games)

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Kevin Keegan, Skill 5. Who didn’t sink a million hours into Football Manager by Kevin Toms on whichever computer that you owned? Kevin’s masterpiece was available on just about every conceivable piece of kit – even the Dragon 32. Unfortunately, us poor Electron owners were denied the nail-biting treat of match highlights, instead having to take solace in a vidi-printer style text results service. Still it didn’t deter me and I finally got to meet the great man in 2012 and ask him why he was unable to create the graphics on the Electron. All down to “memory” he told me. I understood.

Citadel (Superior Software)

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Though the Electron did have a port of Matthew Smith’s classic Jet Set Willy, Superior Software’s Citadel remains the best puzzle platformers to grace the system. It’s huge (over 100 screen) flick-screen design featured some beautifully drawn enemies, devious puzzles and also had an ingenious Exile-esque multicoloured pixelated border that housed additional game machine code.  I was fascinated by the  bold visuals, option to choose character gender, storyline, puzzles and spent many hours creating artwork inspired by the inlay and mapping out the game as far as I could progress.

Twin Kingdom Valley (Bug Byte)

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GIVE DAGGER TO WITCH. Trevor Hall’s Twin Kingdom Valley was probably the first “graphic” adventure on the Electron, and stood out for that reason over the text-only (but otherwise excellent) offerings from Peter Kilworth. The Valley, home to two feuding Kings (thus giving the game its name) housed all manner of fairytale creatures including Dragons, Dwarves and Giants. There was a lot of wandering around, filling of lamps and opening bronze doors with bronze keys, but it was hugely compelling and atmospheric.

Hopper (Acornsoft)

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Another saving grace for Electron owners was the utterly glorious range of arcade clones that appeared on its own Acornsoft label. Acardians, Meteors, Planetoid and Snapper are worthy of a mention, but its Hopper, the Frogger clone that appealed the most to me. Rebbit.

Daredevil Dennis (Visions)

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16 year-old Simon Pick created a Daredevil, named Dennis who had to demonstrate his stunt abilities to Hollywood by driving an assortment of vehicles dodging a variety of static and moving hazards. DDD’s genius was in its simplicity; just three keys – accelerate, jump  and stop (which you could only use once) made it super-accessible and fun to play. As you progressed the treacherous nature of the on-screen objects increased presenting a tense challenge of working out exactly when that stop button needed to be triggered. A lot of fun and due a mobile remake – just don’t mention the Commodore 64 version …

Games I should have owned on the Electron, but didn’t ….

Exile, Codename Droid/Stryker’s Run, Dunjunz, Thrust, Frak! and Ransack.

ZX Spectrum Years

Football Manager (Addictive Games)

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The version I’d always wanted. Graphics and everything.

The Double (Johnson Scanatron)

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I played football games a lot (you may have noticed) and could have included Football Director, The Boss or any other of the pocket money titles from D&H Games budget label Cult – but The Double was was different. It was the first game not to use visible skill levels for players. You had to use the ingenuous scouting system to obtain opinions on potential targets, and you were limited to how many reports you could receive thus running the risk of a top class player slipping through the net. By some form of wizardry it also was the first game (I think) to include a roster of real players with real abilities – albeit limited to the top three tiers of English football and not the full four. The Commodore 64 version retained three divisions using its additional memory to include a horrific match highlights feature. The C64 version was also just as excruciatingly slow as its Z80 sibling. God, EXCRUCIATINGLY SLOW … how did I ever have the patience to play it? But, I forgave its foibles in exchange for its innovative ideas. I could have sworn Tracksuit Manager was by the same developer too.

Turbo Esprit (Durell)

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Turbo Esprit was ground breaking in some many ways. The story revolved around a drugs baron driving a “supply car” loaded full of narcotics into a city, where it would wait for a rendezvous with four smugglers cars. After the “exchange” each of the cars would make a run for the city limits where they would escape and the game would be over. Your role as a James Bond / Miami Vice / Magnum narcotics cop was to hang around until the exchange of drugs and then chase down each of the criminals before they escaped. Where Esprit excelled was in its open world design. It delivered a living, breathing city – working traffic lights that other cars obeyed, petrol stations (you had to refuel), road-works and pedestrians seemingly going about their business.  I spent most of my hours role playing my own stories, using the game’s practise mode to map and drive around Minster, responding to fictitious crimes and cruising the streets. A great game with a fantastic loading screen and superbly detailed graphics. Again, let’s not mention the C64 or Amstrad version.

Grand Prix Simulator 2 (Codemasters)

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I owned several of the “simulator” titles from the Codies (powered by the Oliver Twins) but Grand Prix 2 was the most polished of the bunch. What really stood out was the multi-player experience it offered: An opportunity for up to three friends to sweat it out over our rubber keyboarded chum, battling for position, getting to the finish line in the allotted time, and bagging bragging rights over the fastest lap around a line of fabulous tracks. Crucially for the multi-player experience it didn’t suffer from keyboard clash.

Footballer of the Year (Gremlin Graphics)

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I owned the text-only travesty (press L to shoot Left, R to shoot Right – You Missed!) Acorn Electron version of Gremlin’s board game conversion, and bought it again for the Spectrum – which had graphics! It was ahead of its time, placing you directly in the boots of a player having to convert the chances you had on goal. It probably wasn’t the best version on the Speccy, with its workman-like graphics, and it was exceptionally difficult to win the FOTY trophy due to some very poor game logic: For example, even if you scored 50+ goals a season you wouldn’t win, or you would never be transferred to top teams, or your manager would accept any old offer to offload you. Cult’s Striker, and later titles such as Dino Dini’s Player Manager and New Star Soccer (FOTY’s 21st century pretender to the title) bettered the original but Gremlin’s classic retains a first team place in my squad.

Sherlock (Melbourne House)

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Like Twin Kingdom Valley and its graphics, Sherlock offered something completely different to all other text adventures that went before it (I never owned The Hobbit): The parser seemed so sophisticated. The implementation of “INGLISH”, though still limited was a world away from the frustration of constantly searching for the right verb/noun to use in other games – OUT BOAT, LEAVE, GET OUT OF BOAT, LEAVE BOAT, UP, CLIMB OUT OF BOAT, OUT, JUMP FROM BOAT. Vocabulary was never a strong point of mine. It came packaged in one of those oversized trademark Melbourne House boxes, with a couple of feelies – an excellent manual setting the scene, a tips sheet and a fragment of paper that hinted at trains and timetables from various London stations to destinations across the capital. Add intelligent (ish) autonomous characters (with Animtalk), the transit of night and day (key to progressing in some parts of the game) and a story of murder and mystery that would unravel from the moment you asked Watson to read the early morning newspaper, Sherlock is probably one of the best, albeit it buggy, adventures on the Speccy.

The Big Sleaze

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Fergus McNeil is a genius. If playing Sherlock Holmes was cool, then playing Sam Spillade, a Private Investigator (or Private Dick for short ….. *snigger*) in the highly romanticised 1930s was only measurable in Kelvin. Spillade has his world turned upside down by the entry into his life of the “obligatory female” who had come to New York to meet her father, who never showed up. Spillade takes the case and goes in search of Dad. The Big Sleaze looked like many other Quill/Illustrator adventures, but its attraction was down to McNeil’s storytelling, his refreshing writing style and the smorgasbord of comic wittery above and beyond what you’d expect – usually received from EXAMINEing everything, or typing in random rudeness (“Is that your idea of a good time? Typing in naughty bits?”).  I think Sleaze may have been Fergus’ first collaboration with his future wife Anna, with whom he went onto co-found Abstract Concepts and penned the label’s only game – Mindfighter. Well worth checking out, along with other gems such as The Boggit, Bored of the Rings and The Colour of Magic.

Formula One (CRL)

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Not to be mistaken for every other game called Formula One, this was of the management variety, written by the formal-sounding GB Munday and BP Wheelhouse, released by CRL.You took control of a fledging Formula One team, with a fixed budget from which to pay driver’s salaries, buy and maintain engines, chassis and recruit and train pitstop teams. The “management” beyond this was quite limited; for race day you picked the tyre to match the weather and then watched from a position across from the start/finish line the various cars fly past competing for the lead. It actually was quite involved, as you had a pause between laps that had you on edge waiting to see if you’d overtaken, been overtaken or crashed out with some other issue. Cars would come into the pits for new tyres and you had to take control of the pit crew (one man) and change each wheel. Sounds crap, but it was a little more exciting than that and the best F1 management game on the Speccy (I can only recall a couple of others by Silicon Joy and D&H Games). The same duo also released a Motorcycle variant called Enduro.

Run For Gold (Hill MacGibbon)

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I loved Track and Field in the arcades, along with Hyper Sports, but I was never dexterous enough to progress far enough through the game. The same applied when the action moved to home computers as I experienced more failures thanks to Daley Thompson. It’s probably why I enjoyed Run for Gold so much. It was more strategy then strenuous finger action as you balanced the pace and direction of a middle distance runner whilst keeping your eye on their energy levels. The graphics were wonderfully lifelike and fluid on the Speccy, with lovely big animated sprites filling most of the screen. If you fancy re-enacting those famous Coe vs Ovett races, as I did, then hunt this out.

Games I should have owned on the Spectrum, but didn’t …

Rex, Ranarama, Where Time Stood Still and Myth.

 

 

 

Thoughts from the Education Innovation Conference and Exhibition (@EICEmanchester)

Yesterday I spent the day at the Education Innovation Conference & Exhibition held at the Manchester Central conference centre. Games Britannia had been nominated for an innovation award, and there were a couple of talks and speakers I was interested in going along to meet and listen to

The Manchester Central building was a beautiful, former railway station and for nostalgia’s sake they’d decided to leave in the 1960s PA system. At one point I did expect the “announcer” to notify us that the train on Platform 3 was the 14:15 to London, last call, about to depart at any minute! ALL ABOARD!

The  main hall was set-up akin to a micro-BETT show – a smattering of companies all plying their wares to the education sector. Amongst the stalls were four open-plan spaces dedicated to workshops and talks, with the central hub available for the headlining speakers.

I particularly enjoyed the “Skills for the future: Inspiring young people to pursue STEM careers” talk with a panel including the brilliant Maggie Philbin (@maggiephilbin) who also talked about her fantastic Teentech events. BBC Learning was represented by Saul Nasse and in my opinion underplayed the role that Auntie has in educating the nation. It seems the BBC are still hesitate to take a more active role (as they did with the literacy project in the 80s) in education and are entrenched in this “passive” position where all of the material is made online … but where the public goes and looks for it. My view, as I expressed at the BBC Fusion Games event that the creative/maker movement should be part of the mainstream broadcast schedule and that resources should play a more central role – oh, for the BBC Micro 2.

Next up was Genevieve Smith-Nunes’ (@pegleggen) “workshop” on the use of Greenfoot (http://www.greenfoot.org) in programming related courses. Genevieve delivers Computing courses at Sussex Downs College. I’d not really looked at Greenfoot, since being an Actionscript programmer (who doesn’t teach that much) I’ve never felt the urge to learn Java – though the two languages’ genetics aren’t far away. Greenfoot looked like a great tool to introduce students to Java and OOP, with a clear IDE and a very useful visual object hierarchy list (in it’s defence the Flash Pro IDE does have a similar, but not as child-friendly View-Objects and View-Variables debug). Genevieve also described a brilliant way of using LEGO to describe object oriented concepts – I will have to try that at some point!

After that I wandered into the Raspberry Pi area, primarily looking to chat with Pimoroni’s Paul Beech (@guru) – where Alan O’Donohue’s (@teknoteacher) Raspberry Jamboree was in full flow. There was plenty of stuff going on, and I managed to grab a Pibow case from the chaps at CPC who were supporting the event. My thoughts on the Pi are mixed. Coming from a secondary school were we have almost 700 PCs, and where 90%+ (even though we’re listed as a highly deprived area) of the children come from a home with access to a PC, games console, etc – giving the kids a low-powered device, that’s more difficult to setup, use and doesn’t run the software or games that they’re used to is a difficult sell. BUT the ways in which the device can be used to hack and be allowed to be abused is a breath of fresh air. As with yesterday (and commented on widely on Twitter) the majority of those who are really embracing the Pi are currently enthusiasts and hobbyists – but of an older demograph. I’d be interested to know the take-up in schools and how they have been received by children. Maybe the Google funded donations of the device will greatly improve this? Regardless, the enthusiasm in the Jamboree was infectious – and if you could bottle that and send it into schools we won’t go far wrong. Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet Paul, even with a continuing twitter-hide-and-seek game and him wearing an overt slogoned tee-shirt.

After that the shadow-education minister Stepen Twigg MP talked in the central hub. Stephen unfortunately delivered a speech on what was happening in schools with IT, rhetoric that is two years out of date – but a great demonstration of the problem with have in Britain – we are already 10 years behind, and even two years after the Next Gen Skills report we’re still talking about the problem. Mr Twigg highlighted few potential Labour polices, but did extend his disdain for the eBacc and wanted to introduce a TechBacc to deliver vocational skills alongside academic. We used to have a system to deliver this with Grammer schools, Polytechnics (technical college) and Universities, but we abandoned many years ago. At least on policy I agreed with Mr Twigg when he said “CPD, CPD, CPD” – though the Blair-esque soundbyte did make me gnash my teeth!

Jobs for the Girls: Encouraging girls to consider qualifications and careers in IT” was the next talk in the central hub. Criminally under-attended the talk was a fairly brief overview (given the time) of cultural and other problems we face getting more girls to consider careers in IT. The best question came from the floor – “why do we need more girls?” and was roundly and comprehensively answered by the panel. As with our girls-centric event at Games Britannia – there’s no silver bullet for this issue, but we should be open-minded to use every single weapon in the arsenal to overcome it – whether it be using pink, princesses, social, celebrity or otherwise.

BBC Click’s Spencer Kelly closed the event with an light-weight look at technology, closing the event with the awards-ceremony for a range of exceptional projects. I was delighted that Sheffield College won an award for its use of games (Games to Engage) for students with learning disabilities.

Overall, I enjoyed the day. Probably like the majority of teachers/educations/folk-that-are-interested I found particular interest in the workshops and talks. I have no interest in listening to a sales-pitch from a company selling wares to schools. What would benefit – and what we tried to do at GB – was to give the companies’ a platform to  show how the tools can be used in a live classroom/workshop situation. Genevieve did that with Greenfoot and Alan with the Raspberry Pi. On-stand demo’s, leaflets, and sales-talk just don’t do it for me.

Quick Book Review – Chamberlain and the Lost Peace by John Charmley

I’m a keen student of World War II and recently have been encouraged via Peter Hitchins who has recommended several books that question conclusions that a layman such as myself have believed:

1) That there was no alternative but to go to war with Germany in 1939.

2) Chamberlain’s appeasement policy was the wrong one.

and

3) That Britain was a victor in 1945.

These deductions in my own experience are embedded from traditional history teaching, a myriad of good vs evil war films and other media that fail to really challenge the causes, or explore alternative outcomes of the war.

Charmley’s book produces fine evidence that Chamberlain was a thoughtful, rational politician and looked to defend the interests of Great Britain and her Empire throughout the discourse with Germany. Without a continental land army but a defensive and (in the case of bombers) obsolete air force and an over-stretched (especially in the far-east as the outcome of the war there shows) navy, how could we possible guarantee the safety of Czechoslovakia, Poland or any other European country? Chamberlain realised this, and continued to provide funds for the RAF first and Navy second. There simply wasn’t enough money for all three.

The only country with a large enough land force on the continent to be able to even consider this was France. History again proved the infallibility of the Maginot line and an easy beaten French army – perhaps this was known at the time and why the French politicians ducked their own responsibilities leaving the British to finally stand alone?

In hindsight, eventually war would have knocked on our door, but Hitler showed his immediate desire to reverse Versailles, reclaim lost land and make an immediate push east. If Britain had showed restraint and delay, accelerating rearmament, and allowed Germany to slug it out with the USSR first perhaps the resulting outcomes would have been much different?

Britain ended the war bankrupt, with bombed cities, industries and infrastructure in disarray, armed forces it could no longer afford, and indebted to our “special relationship” partner via lend-lease and Marshall Aid. Europe instead of becoming dominated by Germany, headed into a USSR/US cold war front with Britain continuing to be a phantom “power” mainly through more debt and our own “bomb”.

Perhaps the final telling lesson of the book, deals with a chapter called “Why die for Danzig?”. Its thoughts echo to the present day, and the latest governments ill-advised adventures in Afghanistan and now Mali. The security of people on the streets of our country would be no different (or maybe increased if the defence budget was spent on foot patrolling police) if our troops never set a foot on African soil – it could be argued the same applied to Poland in 1939.

I’d recommend this book to anyone (though in places very dry and academic) interested in the events that led to the outbreak of the Second World War, along with reading Peter Hitchins excellent thoughts, and the eye-opening Churchill-Hitler and the Unnecessary War by Patrick Buchanan.

Quick Book Review – Speccy Nation by Dan Whitehead

I impulse bought a couple of books about the British video game industry recently. One of these was the little pocket book “Speccy Nation” by veteran games journalist Dan Whitehead.

Obviously its all abSpeccy Nationout Sir Clive’s venerable ZX-Spectrum and covers around 50 or so games that were released for our rubber-keyed chum. The games are obviously favourites of Dan’s, and he’s compiled a wide and varied list of titles that obviously influenced his teenage years – Turbo Esprit, Manic Miner, Jet Pac, Everyone’s A Wally …

Most of the games are looked back on with rose-tinted glasses, but Whitehead manages to conjure a love and passion for the humble Speccy that is infectious. He goes beyond the standard “classics” list that have been covered to saturation across the web and in print, and chooses a range of oddities, and titles celebrated for their left-field thinking – those that covered bizarre and obtuse topics underlining the creative freedom allowed in the “glory days” of the 1980s.

He remembers that the Speccy inspired a generation not only to play games, but to create them and the book looks for those titles that inspired the blockbuster titles that would appear some years later – hits such as Lemmings, Tomb Raider and Grand Theft Auto that all had DNA strands in earlier games.

It’s a pick-up and put-down book (perhaps one for the smallest room), and there’s hardly a couple of hours of material, but it’s well worth the read. It’s a pity the production values weren’t raised a little higher to include screenshots in all their 16-colour (8 colours, normal and BRIGHT for each) glory, but for the price of a couple of cups of coffee you can’t argue.

Speccy Nation is available now in paperback from Amazon priced £3.99.

Back To The Future – Next Gen from the Previous Gen

I’m working my way through the excellent Grand Thieves and Tomb Raiders by Magnus Anderson and Rebecca Levene. The second chapter in the book is entitled “BASIC Differences” and talks about the genesis of the British computer hardware industry and the formation of Acorn, Sinclair and others such as Newbury and Oric.

The piece opens describing the decline of Britain as a manufacturing base – long standing manual jobs and industry being displaced to other counties with cheaper labour rates, resulting in high unemployment and long-term economic gloom. In 1978 the BBC broadcast an edition of Horizon called “Now the Chips are Down” looking at the impact of the microchip, and prophetically ended the episode with a statement: “What is shocking is that the government has been totally unaware of the effects that this technology is going to create. The silence is terrifying. It’s time to talk about the future.”

Sound familiar?

In the background the government was helping several innovative technology companies, but the main result from this programme was for the BBC to answer its own question. It embarked on a public awareness campaign, not only about computers, but also how to program them. David Allen of the BBC’s Continuing Education Department said “If we wanted to democratise the technology, rather than be dominated by it as some people seem to think, we needed people to experience it and control it. That meant programming”. To summarise this excellent chapter, the initiative led to the BBC Micro, a raft of technology and programming related TV timetabling – mostly fronted by the much loved Fred Harris. In short, the government and BBC scheme “Micros In Schools” subsidised the education market, placed BBC Micros in schools and perhaps led to Britain being the most computer literate country in the world.

38 years on from that original Horizon broadcast the world seems a completely similar place! As NESTA’s Next Gen and Plan-I and the CBI’s recent “First Steps” reports state we seem to have learned nothing from the past. Our kids are looking down the same barrel as those back in the 80s – leaving school with minimal skills required to enter the “microchip” market and take advantage of the inevitable digital jobs marketplace. How can this be? What is amazing to me is that we still have people in government and education that continue to resist this change, continue to believe that for the past 30 years we’ve been doing the right thing. We’ll never have the cheapest labour (though after 100 years of unopposed decline we might), and the emerging markets of India and China could overtake us for innovation and creativity – where will that leave Britain?

We dropped the ball somewhere in the mid-80s, will the government and the BBC be brave enough to pick it up again, and bring back a “Micros In Schools” program for the 21st century and beyond.