About

Given that this is a site called “ZX81″ and yet has nothing at all to do with that famous Sinclair computer I will assume that the reason you’re here is to find out why. (There are other options if you want to know about me or want to know how I put the site together.)

I guess the first thing to mention would be that it didn’t cost me anything. For many people, that explanation is probably enough.

For the more persistent, here goes.

If I was vain, I might have chosen something with my name in it. Let’s say, ‘darlington.com’ or ‘darlington.org.uk’. But they’ve already gone, used as the virtual presence of real places (Darlington is a small town in the North-East of England, near Durham and Middlesborough, if you didn’t know). So I needed something longer or something different. The word ‘darlington’ is long enough, so I wanted something different.

The domain had to be something other than my name, have some connection to me no matter how odd or obscure, but, at the same time, it had be memorable. Let’s think…

I work with computers and it’s been a hobby since I was knee-high to a grass-hopper, as it were. I thought that something computer-ish might be good. But I didn’t want something too obscure1 or something fantastically difficult to remember.

My first computer was a Sinclair Spectrum+ (a 48K Spectrum with a marginally better keyboard), but the first machine that I really wanted was a ZX81 so that became my choice for a domain. zx81.co.uk had already gone — looks like they had a similar idea to me — which left zx81.org.uk.

The first pages went live in November 1999. Initially it was just a few vanity pages but I quickly consolidated my various web sites onto this one.

The first spike in traffic came when I announced the Oracle on Linux Installation HOWTO and this was the main focus of the site for some time. As my interest in travel and photography grew I started to add travel photos. Over time they became the most popular parts of the site.

In 2005, I decided to split my web-sites so that the personal, photographic and technical aspects would be kept separate. This did not work as well as I would have liked and a year later I changed my mind and merged them together. The result is right before your eyes now.

  1. I probably should have thought about this more. Outside the UK no-one has heard of the ZX81. Even here it’s only a certain type of person of a particular age. []

2 thoughts on “About”

  1. OK, a blast from the past…

    For what it’s worth, you may have been better off with the Sinclair Spectrum. My first computer was the zx-81 (assemble it yourself kit for $99 – only about 30 parts in the whole package so about the same complexity as assembling a model plane) which had only 1k (which was great for teaching discipline re: tight code) but the I/O never worked reliably. Of course, it could have been me and my assembly (I was 14) – but I was never able to get the storage to work reliably (loading from tape worked fine – savings was a coin toss).

    Point being, you may be well served to pick one up on ebay and see for yourself. That said, I still think it’s an amazing machine for it’s time.

    Greg

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Photography, opinions and other random ramblings by Stephen Darlington