Forget the arcades of the 80s - remember the computer shops

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Mad Gerald
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Forget the arcades of the 80s - remember the computer shops

Post by Mad Gerald » Tue Jan 17, 2006 8:57 am

While we all enjoy discussing and reading with great fondness the smokey pit that was, “the local arcadeâ€

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The Last Ginja
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Post by The Last Ginja » Tue Jan 17, 2006 11:18 am

If you are talking about OSB in Norwich, then its not a shame at all to be honest.

Full of jumped up greasy idiots(staff not customers). High 2nd hand prices, and stickers that are an absolute bastard to get off the cases.

Sorry for that rant but as you can tell I don't particularly like the place.

Anyway I too have fond memories of my local shop, where they would load in a game for you to try, they were the days.....

Mad Gerald
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Post by Mad Gerald » Tue Jan 17, 2006 12:09 pm

The Last Ginja wrote:If you are talking about OSB in Norwich, then its not a shame at all to be honest.

Full of jumped up greasy idiots(staff not customers). High 2nd hand prices, and stickers that are an absolute bastard to get off the cases.

Sorry for that rant but as you can tell I don't particularly like the place.

Anyway I too have fond memories of my local shop, where they would load in a game for you to try, they were the days.....
LOL - I have no idea what OSB turned into - i left them back in the early 90s when they closed the Castle Meadow shop.. But back in the old days, things were a lot different.

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andy vaisey
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Post by andy vaisey » Tue Jan 17, 2006 3:27 pm

I mentioned a shop in another thread somewhere: the "Softcentre" in Cwmbran, South Wales.

It started quite small then expanded to the shop next door, but ultimately, with the rise of "Franchise" shops like Game and EB, shrank again and eventually closed... :(

I remember one side of the shop had a wall full of TV's, upon which games were playing from various computers behind the counter - a load of us used to hang round for ages watching or pretending to buy so asking to "try" games.

The shop also had a few arcade machines including personal favourites Ghosts 'n' Goblins (on free play if I remember correctly) and Slap Fight.

I also remember envy! They used to have an Amiga 1000 in the window when they first came out, showing the "Juggler" animation and I so wanted one at the time!

One of the assistants, Dale Bradford, ended up writing in Amiga Format (he was secretary of the Independent Retailers Association, or something like that...).

Good times! 8)

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TMR
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Post by TMR » Tue Jan 17, 2006 4:05 pm

i mentioned this on another forum a while back and someone helped me out with a few names; i used to live in Canterbury, Kent, and my teenage years were mostly spent in either Jones Computing or Soccodi music; the former was run as a family concern and i was known to the entire family (usually as a bit of a nuisance i expect.... =-) and the latter was a music shop who suddenly decided that their upstairs section should have computer games - they also ran the Bulletin 1000 videos and i won a gift voucher by winning one of the competitions, i used it to buy Hacker for my Atari 800XL. i do remember showing off early game code and getting amazing feedback (probably undeserved...!) in Jones Computing and i think we got thrown out a few times as well...

After those two both disappeared (Jones Computing moved into the business software/hardware market and onto a trading estate, Soccodi moved and dropped the computer side of things totally) there was Computerworld. And i worked there for about seven years, probably the happiest working years of my life in fact...

Actually... my very first hang out was the computer display in the photographic section of Boots (yes, the chemists) and i pretty much taught myself BASIC on the VIC 20 there with a few magazine listings and a couple of tapes. i'm very forgetful and it got the point where i'd forget my tape at the end of a Saturday spent experimenting and the staff would give it back to me the next week when i came back and when my parents went in to get a VIC for me, they gave the tape back to them instead!

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AdamDawes
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Post by AdamDawes » Wed Jan 18, 2006 11:15 am

We used to have two shops like this in Brighton: Softcentre and Gamer. I've no idea whether Softcentre was related to the one in Wales or not, but they didn't exactly have a prime location, in an underground area of the otherwise-outdoor shopping centre. It felt like taking an escalator down into a dungeon to get to the shop.

Gamer was the better place of the two to hang out however. They had a fairly big shop with loads of computers out for people to play with. I used to spend ages trying to persuade the staff to give me posters of new games to stick on my bedroom wall. Also have fond memories of resetting all the Amigas and running my primitive demos on them. :)

Ah, happy days.

Mad Gerald
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Post by Mad Gerald » Wed Jan 18, 2006 12:03 pm

In Norwich back in the early 80s we had the Spectrum (part of a chain that went bust - later became Tetronite - then OSB). We had Viking Computers out on the ring road (served locals) and there was another at the top of Elm Hill that i remember did BBC and "business" software and a small bit of leisure. Then there was Norwich Camera Centre that I remember getting Vic 20 games from. We had software Emporium and there was good old Secondhand land.

But OSB was the place to be - before it moved to Bedford street.

You could also rely on your local garage to have a plentiful supply of budget games.

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andy vaisey
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Post by andy vaisey » Wed Jan 18, 2006 12:42 pm

AdamDawes wrote:I've no idea whether Softcentre was related to the one in Wales or not...
Probably not. The Welsh one was a small, independent concern and although it did open a shop in the nearby town of Newport, I don't remember it lasting long. Just a coincidence? How many other shops were called "Softcentre" I wonder... :?:

NorthWay
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Post by NorthWay » Wed Jan 18, 2006 7:03 pm

I remember computer shops in the 80s. They very mostly run by amateurs.
The only reason they survived was because us buyers were doubly so. (Well, they didn't really survive, did they? They're all gone now AFAIK.)

The 80s was a strange time in computers when thinking back. A vast selection of machinery, and survival of the fittest was slow in its coming.
In one way computers were bought for what they did / could do for you (what games or serious sw that tickled you, but also for their potential (which was a somewhat hazy definition - BASIC benchmarking anyone?).
I wish I knew exactly how to look at a machine back than as I do now.

All of which meant that computer shops could have the weirdest and most diverse selection of stuff for sale, simply because none of it was an obvious dead-end and as such a future killer of your business (because somebody else was selling The Right Brand).
The world was a more colourful place back then... (but then again, so were 80s fashion too!)

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merman
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Post by merman » Thu Jan 19, 2006 10:49 am

I remember spending HOURS playing Mr Do on the Atari 800XL in Boots in Cambridge, the one that Bill Bryson slags off in Notes from a Small Island, and nearly missing the bus home.

Then there was the time I spent most of a day in Cambridge Computer Store (which used to be a BBC/Acorn specialist store until it switched allegiance to Macintosh) playing Dr Who & The Mines of Terror on the C64 with a very wonky Konix Speedking

One of my favourite shops was in Great Yarmouth, an independent one but I can't remember its name.

Mad Gerald
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Re:

Post by Mad Gerald » Thu Jan 19, 2006 10:51 am

merman wrote:I remember spending HOURS playing Mr Do on the Atari 800XL in Boots in Cambridge, the one that Bill Bryson slags off in Notes from a Small Island, and nearly missing the bus home.

Then there was the time I spent most of a day in Cambridge Computer Store (which used to be a BBC/Acorn specialist store until it switched allegiance to Macintosh) playing Dr Who & The Mines of Terror on the C64 with a very wonky Konix Speedking

One of my favourite shops was in Great Yarmouth, an independent one but I can't remember its name.
Great Yarmouth as a child was a rocking place!

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forestville
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Post by forestville » Thu Jan 19, 2006 12:25 pm

I remember a shop called "Microtronics" in Tamworth, in the 80s they stocked speccy and c64 stuff, the budget tape based games where always locked in some sort of plastic turn stile things and the full price 8bit games where on wooden shelfs, the shop was always full of a weekday lunchtimes and very busy on saturdays, they had closed down by the end of the 90s, today the shoplet remains empty with rubbish everywhere.
Press play on tape

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Spiff
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Re:

Post by Spiff » Fri Jan 20, 2006 8:57 am

merman wrote:
One of my favourite shops was in Great Yarmouth, an independent one but I can't remember its name.
Wonder if it's the one I came across on the way back to the B&B one night: a TV was left on with the pic from a C64 art program (with graphics tablet) onscreen. My nose was pressed to the window for a while tho I can't remember what the pic was of.

psj3809
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Post by psj3809 » Wed Feb 01, 2006 7:09 am

For me it was Computer Cavern in Reading. Was a great computer shop in Wokingham for a while before that disappeared and Mikro Gen in Bracknell also sold games but Computer Cavern in Reading for many years i used to buy my games from

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backdrifter
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Post by backdrifter » Wed Feb 01, 2006 12:13 pm

I've absolutely no idea what the shop itself was called, but just I have very vivid memories of travelling into Sheffield with my uncle, every Saturday morning. We'd wander down the 'The Moor', then turn off at the bottom, wander along for another 5 mins or so, and finally come to this tiny little gaming store. I must have traded hundreds upon hundreds of Mega Drive titles in there over the years. I remember a TV behind the cash desk, usually playing the latest Japanese releases.

It's gone now, of course. In fact, as far as I know, there's bugger all game store wise in Sheffield outside the shops on The Moor and in Meadowhall. So if anyone knows of anywhere, let me know!

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