We like a bit of digital archeology at Vulture Central, so we were delighted to learn that retro computing enthusiasts found Dymond Software games that were once considered lost at Swindon’s Museum of Computing.
The games for the ZX81 and ZX Spectrum were released in the early 1980s by Dymond Software of Dumfriesshire, a family business with Roger Dymond behind the rubber keys on Sinclair’s Hardware.
Like many of us, Dymond started out with a ZX81 and was soon producing software for the plastic platter while waiting for his shiny new ZX Spectrum to arrive. Compared to the ’81, the Spectrum was a revelation. Dymond quickly put the machine’s capabilities to use in his 1982 game. roulette.
Although the graphic on display would not test today’s hardware, it is reminiscent of simpler times with an animated row of numbers representing the spinning roulette wheel. It’s also surprisingly addicting.
Other games followed, in which museum volunteer Keith Mortimer appreciated a combination of BASIC and machine code (the latter takes care of speed-critical elements).
One notable game was a Space Invaders Clone, Dymonoids, as well as a ZX81 version of Dymond’s game compendium. The former is much more arcade-like than Dymond’s other games, a nod to the pace of software development at the time and an indication of what could have happened if Dymond had made progress.
The latter is more intriguing overall, and was recreated by Mortimer from the original WHSmith C15 audio cassette (and is believed to be the only surviving copy). Readers won’t be surprised to learn that the nearly four decades since the cassette hit the UK retailer’s shelves weren’t friendly and needed some restoration (including replacing the cassette case and reels) before the games launched could. But on a ZX81 emulator similar to their ZX Spectrum counterparts, they did it, except without the flashy bitmap graphics and colors.
Dymond’s history as a ZX Spectrum developer seems to end with one last ad in the 1983 edition Sinclair users as larger game companies pushed smaller developers out of the market. Dymond himself went back to college, gained IT skills and worked in IT support support for schools in Dumfriesshire before his death in 1999.
The games documented by Mortimer in his Youtube channel and for download on a suitable emulator, give an insight into the time almost 40 years ago when it was possible to create a niche for yourself at the beginning of the computing wave.
As for Mortimer, he’s a volunteer with the Computer Museum in Swindon. Like other museums around the country, the institution was forced to close its doors when the lockdown arrived. The opportunity was used to improve the museum and Dymond’s games were found during a software archive screening.
The museum, well worth a visit if you’re in the area, had a “soft” reopening on July 10, 2021, and Mortimer told us the numbers rose in the pre-COVID era. Visitors are asked to mask themselves and the volunteers regularly clean the hands-on computers. Â®