This is how it begins.


Back in 1989, before the Earth cooled, I'd recently become the proud owner of an Amiga and an Atari ST as a result of winning the 1988 UK Computer Games Championships, arranged by software publisher US Gold and magazine publisher Newsfield, at Earls Court in London. The prize for winning was 1000 worth of computer hardware and software of my choice, so I picked the two computers (which cost about 400 each at the time) and saved the rest of the money for games.

Showing the keen analytical mind that would serve me so well in my forthcoming career, I decided that of the two, the Atari ST was clearly where the future lay, and promptly sold the Amiga in order to buy a four-track "Portastudio" tape recorder with which to record the music of my new band, These Modern Haircuts. (To be fair, the decision was largely motivated by the fact that the ST sold in the shops at that time came bundled, amazingly, with 20 or so full-price games already, which would keep me occupied for a fair while.)

Arrangement of the prizes was being handled by unimaginably lovely US Gold PR person Danielle Woodyatt, (now Managing Director of Lunch PR), so I had quite frequent cause to call her up every time I thought of another game I wanted from my remaining 200. (ST games being 20 each at the time and me being unemployed and having no income, I wasn't making any rash decisions, and was taking my time choosing what I wanted.) Invariably, while we'd be chatting on the phone, "Woody" (as I discovered she was universally known in the industry) would generously arrange to send me US Gold's latest releases too, free of charge, which put an idea into my head.

Reading the computer games magazines of the late 1980s was mostly a pretty frustrating experience. Reviewers didn't seem to know what they were talking about (frequently, for example, praising the "amazing originality" of games which even I knew were straight unlicensed ripoffs of semi-obscure arcade games), their reviews rarely bore much resemblance to what I thought of games when I got to play them for myself, and I was seized by a desire to put the record straight. Less heroically, I also wanted to get hold of a regular stream of free software, so armed only with some scissors, Pritt Stick glue and a manual typewriter, I put together the first issue of Between Planets.

The story continues >>

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