A history of micros – would it sell?

About five years ago I pitched an idea for a book to a publisher. It was to be a fun lively history of how microcomputing changed the world. I got rejected – they told me there was no way a history book about microcomputers would sell.

At the time I just slunk away, tail between my legs, assuming that they were correct, but since then I’ve published several books without the need for a publisher and I figure that maybe it’s time to explore the idea again. I don’t really think that a boring history full of footnotes and technical details would work – though maybe someone should write that before we all get too old, but I wanted to do something more personality-led – talking to the people who created and used these devices.

Take a look at some of these videos:

Jeff Minter’s Attack of the Mutant Camels on the C64

Manic Miner on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum

Crazy Kong on the Sinclair ZX81

Cuthbert in the Jungle on the Dragon 32

Elite on the BBC Micro

Rob Hubbard’s music using the C64 SID chip

The kids who played all these games in the early 1980s are all probably about 40 now. They might have learned how to code games and ended up in the IT industry – that’s what happened to me. Or they might just have enjoyed the games.

What’s important about this era is that it’s the first ever generation that would have been using computers at school because the micro made it possible to start bringing computers into school – we were the first to get real lessons in IT.

Now this generation is old enough to be in senior positions, running their own companies, maybe inspired by some of the games they played or the BASIC they learned on their home micro.

I think it would be interesting to talk to the people who created these computers, these games, the music, and to learn some of the stories around how they were launched AND to find some people who were influenced by this era of technology. There must be countless companies or careers that were launched because of these little plastic 8-bit boxes.

So what do you think – something worth pursuing in 2014?

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