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Review: 101 Things To Do With A ZX81
By Steve Trower, Deeply Sad Publications

Reviewed by Alex Waddington (back in 1997)

As you may have guessed from the name of the publisher this isn’t exactly the most serious Spectrum publication in the world. IT IS NOT, repeat IS NOT, akin to a ZX81 manual, re-written and updated for the Millennium. What it is, however, is a bloody good laugh and I’d recommend all Speccy owners both young and old at least have a look at it.

Described in the blurb as “a sort of bastard off-spring of ‘101 Things To Do With A Kettle’ and a back issue of YS”, if this publication doesn’t bring a smile to your face then you’re obviously too serious about the whole Speccy scene. ‘101 Things To Do With A ZX81' is part of a series which comprises other great titles such as ‘101 Things To Do With a Fiat 126”.

Basically you are taken through from numbers 1 to 101 in 7 sections which often go from the sublime to the ridiculous. I mean, can you image hitting a ZX81 off a golf tee with a 9 iron? Of course not - you’d use a 3 wood!!!!

At the beginning you’ve got a nice little introduction to the ZX81 and its endearing characteristics, with the author citing Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy and Antiques Roadshow as his main influences.

‘Hmmm’, you may be thinking to yourself but believe me once you get into the first few pages you discover just what little gem this booklet is. For example, did you know that in a book called Sinclair ZX81 - Programming For Real Time Applications, it stated that you could, yes, program it for real time applications??? Amazing but true!!!

You also get some good gags such as the Deeply Sad Top Ten of ZX movies. Top of the pile? The Man With The Golden ZX81! Or take a look at the non-computing things you can do with a ZX81 - “23. Throw it across the room in frustration. Anybody who ever owned one will know the feeling of immense frustration when the non-existent keys refuse to do anything,” quips Trower.

In ‘Section Seven - 15 More Things To Do With A ZX81’, it says that you can mention it in Red Dwarf. Apparently Starbug crashed more times than a ZX81 and Holly’s first love was yes, you've guessed it, a ZX81!

These are just a sample of the gags which Trower chucks in. Admittedly some are pretty predictable but it is still a very enjoyable publication which also contains some very interesting information. For example, did you know you used to be able to buy computer games for £1.99 from your local newsagent? Cor, imagine that these days!

Presentation wise, the booklet looks like it's been set on an Amstrad PCW so there’s no flashy graphics but the pages are clean and legible so no gripes there. Another nice touch is the index at the back which makes it easy to find your favourite gag and then pass it onto someone else.

Overall I really enjoyed ‘101 Things To Do With A ZX81’ and think Steve Trower’s sense of humour is pitched at just the right level. Sinclair owners of all types should definitely find something in there to interest them - but just be careful of No.94!!! Okay?

Latest ordering news (02/07/2002): Steve Trower has been in contact and is thinking of reprinting '101 Things...' or making it available on the Web! If you're interested in this great publication, Steve can be contacted on

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