Andrew Holdroyd talks briefly about his C64/Vic 20 days

Thanks to Ross Sillifant, Andrew Holdroyd gives some brief history about his C64/Vic 20 days and any released and unreleased works:

“The Vic20 was the first computer I owned and learned my trade on it. The first wave of home computers (Vic, Spectrum, Atari 400/800 etc) started around the time I left school. I joined British Telecom as an apprentice and after some deliberating bought a VIC, partly because it was cheap and had a ‘proper’ keyboard and also someone I knew well at BT owned a PET so the name was one I knew.

It was an uphill struggle learning to program it but I persevered and produced a few basic programs that were published in magazines. To give you an idea how much of a novice I was then, I could not understand why my programs were so much slower than commercial games. Long before you could ‘Google it’ I eventually learned that to get your programs running faster needed something called ‘machine code’ so I went to a computer shop in Manchester and asked an assistant ‘can the vic 20 do machine code?’ He paused, then said ‘Erm… yes.’

The magazines led to me doing a little freelance work for the multitude of start up games companies springing up around the Manchester area doing piecework and producing tool and utility programs which gave me a peek into the world of commercial software.

By now the C64 was around. I bought the Zaks 6502 programming book, the programmers reference guide and a Mikro assembler cartridge and later a 1541 drive. Many people complained about basic 2.0 in the Vic and 64 but I think for me it made the transition to assembler so much easier. Just switch PEEK and POKE for LDA and STA!

It was around this time that the then state owned British Telecom was heading for privatization and the shop floor was rife with rumors of mass redundancies which at 19 years old I found a little scary. At the same time my contact list in the software world led me to a company called Menton Technology looking for staff making micro controller boards so I decided to take the opportunity.

Working at Menton was fun at first but soon became a little mundane. You were given a flowchart to write the code. ‘If input A goes high, output C should go low’ ‘If input B is high and input D is low, wait 20ms and set output B high’ etc.

Train_RobbersI had been working on my own game in my spare time as a learning exercise. I learned one very important lesson. MAKE BACKUPS! One of my disks became damaged and I had to virtually start again although with the experience I’d had by then the second version was an improvement and I sent the game off to a couple of publishers. Who should come back with an offer? My old employer BT! They got me a couple of Rob Hubbard tracks to add to it and ‘Train Robbers’ was published on their budget ‘Firebird’ label.

It was a weird sensation seeing my game on the shop shelves and pictures in magazines. It was even awarded a ZZap64 Silver medal!

Menton eventually folded, I think because as the market for microcontrollers expanded then bigger companies were taking their business. So I had a published game and a Zzap 64 silver medal and Tiertex were looking for a 6502 programmer…”

Here is a link to the full interview:

3 Responses to Andrew Holdroyd talks briefly about his C64/Vic 20 days

  1. After being contacted by World Of Spectrum, who’d read the interview i did with Andrew on the Sega Forum and were looking to contact Andrew, i got in touch with him and he’ll be helping them with their site as/where he can.

    I’d once again like to pass on my thanks to Andrew for everything he’s done for various Retro Sites and the Retro community as a whole.It’s very much appreciated.

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