My younger brother Constantin first introduced me to
New Atari User magazine on my birthday - he had saved up some pocket
money and bought me an issue knowing I would devour anything to do with
A couple of years before this, we talked our parents
into getting us a computer as a Christmas present. I argued that it
would be a great investment as we’d use it for homework, learn to
program. I also argued that we needed to become familiar with a computer
because, in the late 1980s, that was the way the world was heading.
On Christmas morning our parents seemed impressed
enough to join my brother and I in playing Pole Position and
Boulderdash. After a bit of this I said I’d show them how I could
‘program the computer’ and began entering one of the tiny graphical
demos that came with the computer’s documentation. It was called GTIA
highway and suffered from a typo—an extra ‘I’ that turned a “plot”
command into “pilot” – which crashed the program. Not having enough
programming knowledge, I gave up, and we went back to playing games.
Over the next couple of years we played lots more
games. One of my friends also had an Atari, so we’d go to each other’s
homes to put too much time into Joust, Bruce Lee, and Ollies Follies.
Besides this and one or two simple programming books at the library, I
wasn’t aware of anything else for the Atari. I therefore was delighted
with my brother’s present - this new magazine had reviews of lots of new
games I had never heard of, features on programming, and lots of type-in
games and utilities. I absorbed every page and soon after my parents
started a subscription for me. Constantin and I began saving up pocket
money to buy mail-order games and I invested in lots of programming
books. I also spent far too much time typing in the magazine’s listings
which, at the very least, did make me more familiar with programming.
In many of his leaders, the editor of New Atari User
asked for all kinds of contributions. Inspired, I began working on a
simple platform game called Steelblade. It was mostly clunky BASIC code
with a little bit of machine code to make it look colourful. But because
of the bad structuring it played very badly (Always the artist, I also
spent much more time getting the graphics to look good instead of
worrying about the programming of the game). Nevertheless I posted it
off. It was rejected.
Still wanting to have something published, I tried
writing an article. Not having the knowledge to explain a particular
programming technique, I decided to create an article based on some
thoughts about a stereotypical programmer and the things they liked -
coffee, Star Trek, science fiction books and so on. This was accepted
and published in issue 74. I was ecstatic. I worked on another piece
that looked at unreleased games, but I unfortunately hadn’t been
thorough enough with my research and caused one or two people to write
in and correct me!
By this time the magazine was coming out less and less
frequently. I was starting Art College, and my interest and time for the
Atari began to fade. I still wanted to write though and began
researching a series of articles from notes taken from a giant box of
old computer magazines I had gotten second hand. This project was
abandoned as my art took over.
About four years ago I bought my first PC and, through
the Internet, discovered emulation and all the old games I used to play.
I also found an international Atari community at atariage.com, as well
as this excellent web site.
I completed Art College and am now a free-lance
illustrator. I also got married and moved from Belfast to Austin, Texas
where my wife and I now live. You can see some of my artwork at