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Digital Retro: The Evolution and Design of the Personal Computer


Retro computing fans at the second Classic Gaming Expo UK (CGEUK) in August were left disappointed after famous Jet Set Willy and Manic Miner programmer Matthew Smith failed to appear.

Organisers had billed him as one of the star guests in the run up to the show, along with the likes of Simon Butler and Mark Jones, who worked on big Ocean releases back in the day. But when it came to the crunch, all three of them failed to appear in Croydon. [Read our preview of the show].

Smith, who notoriously disappeared off the face of the earth in the 1980s after finding fame and blowing his wealth, was a huge hit at the 2004 show. He signed copies of his games for fans and happily posed for photographs and chatted, as well as taking part in a fascinating Q&A.

During the session, Smith revealed that up until a few years ago he used to carry around a disk containing code for the unreleased Software Projects game 'Attack of the Mutant Flesh Eating Zombie Chickens From Mars' but then lost it. He also confirmed that he has still not been paid a penny for the work he did on Jet Set Willy.

The Lair contacted CGEUK organiser Chris Millard to see if there was any reason for the absence of Smith and other special guests at the last show, but he never got back to us.

Reaction to CGEUK in the retro computing community has been largely positive, although there have been many complaints about the organisation on the day. Many punters have bemoaned the lack of a timetable, the poor scheduling of events and the pokey nature of the venue.

One attendee described the main hall as a big "jumble sale" and complained that sellers were charging outrageous prices for their wares.

The musical talents of SID80s (an acronym for Stuck In Da 80s), a live band that plays music from classic computer games, has also been called into question, although it appears a dodgy PA system was to blame.

Plenty of others, however, have described CGEUK 2005 as a thoroughly enjoyable event and have pointed out that some people's expectations were too high, given the event was put together and staffed by enthusiastic amateurs rather than slick professionals with a huge budgets.

The dates and venue for next year's show are both yet to be announced. However, holding the event somewhere more central location like the Midlands is already being mooted.

At this stage, no official attendance figures have been released but it's estimated that several hundred people passed through the doors of Fairfield Halls on Saturday August 13.

Some dedicated souls even travelled from Europe to meet fellow retro enthusiasts, browse the stalls and fiddle with some of the many original arcade cabinets and pinball tables that were operating on free play.

If you couldn't make it to CGEUK this year, you may be interested in Retro Player, the official magazine of the event. This 68-page publication is available to order from for just £1.99.

You can also hear a review of the event by downloading the following Podcast.

You may also be interested to know the Engish version of 'The Encyclopedia of Game Machines: Consoles, Handhelds and Home Computers 1972-2005' by Winnie Forster was officially launched at the show. You can buy a copy from here.

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