The ZX Spectrum is back including those spongy keys

Computer game
Image caption All those computers in bedrooms gave the British video game industry a huge head start over the rest of the world

He was the Saturday job tea-boy who created a game that sold thousands of copies.

Just one of the success stories from the 1980s home computer boom - and 30 years on, I finally get to meet Nigel Alderton.

He is sitting in a Lichfield kitchen to help us try out one of just two new ZX Spectrums in existence.

The first pre-production models in a sold-out run of 5,000 recreated Spectrums. Designed to look, feel and behave exactly like the 1980s original.

Nigel can still squeeze a "Hello World" out of Basic programming language and poking at the familiar spongy keys certainly brings memories flooding back for him.

The game he created on the Spectrum was called Chuckie Egg. Even three decades on you can still find fan sites on the internet dedicated to it.

All those computers in bedrooms gave the British video game industry a huge head start over the rest of the world.

The Spectrum recreated

The industry is still full of people like Nigel who got a taste for programming from the Spectrum or perhaps the Commodore 64 or even the BBC Micro - and plenty of people both in and outside the industry have very fond memories of the ZX Spectrum.

So the people who loved it the most have brought it back.

Fans supporting a kickstarter by Elite Systems Ltd (another familiar game brand from the 80s) generated over £60,000 to start making them again.

Playing with it I'm transported back 30 years to my mate Graham's bedroom and Manic Miner, Chuckie Egg and even a fairly limited version of game show Blockbusters.

The man behind all this is Steve Wilcox and he explained to me that while the machine itself looks pretty much identical (it's a few grammes lighter) the actual computing is done by a smartphone or tablet computer.

You can download a free app and then play games and even programme in Basic.

Comparing it side-by-side with a pristine model from the 80s you would be hard pressed to tell them apart. Although the new version is wireless, ending those piles of dusty cables that drove my mum mad.

The initial run of 5,000 has sold out, but interest is high and it looks like the Spectrum may once again appear in shops.

While the new version may not sell the five million the original did, everyone would be very happy if it managed around one per cent of that.

You can find out more about how they brought the Spectrum back to life here.

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