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THIS STORY LAST UPDATED: 14 July 2004 1058 BST
Museum pays tribute to computer genius
Roger Dymond
Roger Dymond
A recent TV broadcast featuring Swindon's Museum of Computing inspired a Scottish couple to make the trip down south to donate their late son's original ZX Spectrum, on which he designed some of the Spectrum's first games.

Despite having Asperger's Syndrome Roger Dymond shone in one area: computing.

In 1981, when he was made redundant from his horticultural apprenticeship, he faced a daunting period of unemployment.

Spectrum
Roger Dymond's original ZX Spectrum computer

But his redundancy coincided with the launch of the first affordable home PCs, which gave Roger the inspiration to teach himself computer programming using a Sinclair ZX81. From this he went on to design some of the first games for the newer Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

Roger's parents remember how he was quick to see the potential for writing computer games and selling them to the new generation of computer-gamers keen to test their skills on the new Spectrum machines.

Following its launch at the Earls Court Computer Show in 1982, Roger waited ten weeks for his ZX Spectrum to arrive. Soon after he wrote his first game: Roulette.

In comparison with today's computers, Roger was working with fairly basic equipment.

Retailing for £175 (about £400 in today's money) the ZX Spectrum enjoyed 48 kilobytes of memory (today's PCs can have a gigabyte of memory), colour graphics (displayed on an ordinary TV screen) and sound.

He also produced a compendium of children's games, which included Fox and Geese, Snakes and Ladders, Noughts and Crosses, Beetle and Ludo.

Simon Webb, the curator of Swindons' Museum of Computing, has created an exhibition dedicated to Roger Dymond's work.

He told BBC Wiltshire: "What Roger achieved was fantastic. The Roulette game has smooth, scrolling graphics, which didn't come along until much later, so Roger was way ahead of his time."

The care Roger spent creating his programs, the way he taught himself machine code to improve the speed and smooth-running of the graphics and his attention to detail meant that potential buyers were soon queuing-up to buy Roger's games.

They came from all over the world, including the Middle East, South Africa and Sweden.

artwork
Original artwork

Helped by his parents, Roger sold around £1000 worth of games but the cost of advertising meant further sales would prove difficult.

In 1984, Roger used his self-taught computing skills to work on creating a computerised auction system for a stamp dealer and after gaining further qualifications at college he went on to work in the IT department of the Dumfries and Galloway Education Department where he worked until his unexpected death four years ago.

Barry and Josephine Dymond
Barry and Josephine Dymond

Josephine recalls: "Roger died very suddenly from a heart condition and went to his grave thinking he was a failure at life. No amount of talking by me or his father would change his mind, but he was someone very special - not only to us but to a lot of other people; there were about 150 who came to his funeral and everyone told us how respected he was both at work and leisure."

After seeing the Swindon Museum of Computing featured on breakfast television, Roger's parents thought that the museum would be a fitting place to leave their son's Spectrum and the games he developed.

By doing so they hope that others will find inspiration from their son's experience and learn that despite life's hurdles, anyone can achieve anything if they are willing to stay determined.

Click here to listen to Roger's story. (Audio requires Real Player)
BBC download guide Free Real player

See Also: Historic computer games go on show.

Visit the Museum of Computing's website. The museum is situated with the University of Bath in Swindons Oakfield campus, Marlowe Avenue, Swindon. It is open Monday to Friday 0900-1730 and Saturday 0900-1300. For more information call Simon Webb on 07939 582544.

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Peepff Chigelle
"Yahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhllllllleeee!!!!!!! Bless you, Rog!

tom
great and insporational

Rae Littlejohn
A lovely tribute to a talented, clever man, amazing stuff Roger.

Mhairi Stirling.
Jose and Barry Dymond are my next door neighbours.I have heard their son Roger's story and I think it is a fitting memorial to their very talented son.

Mhairi Stirling.
A very moving story which will be a wonderful memorial to Roger.

euan dymond
Roger was my uncle - I was never bored around him! I look forward to seeing the spectrum in action - get it going grannie!

Joy & Bernie Prewett NZ
Privileged and thrilled that we actually met Roger, Jose and Barry Dymond's talented son. A very sad loss indeed but he definitely left his mark for society's benefit.

Tom Gilmour
As Roger's boss in Dumfries and Galloway Education Department I am delighted that he has been commemorated in this way.

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