Triumphs and Cadillacs

Last weekend saw the airing of Charlie Brooker’s How Video Games Changed The World on Channel 4, a two hour programme that tried to cover the last forty-something years of video gaming from Pong through to Grand Theft Auto 5. Of particular interest to us, dear reader, are a couple of statements made during the section on the 8-bit era; Charlie Brooker noted (with emphasis from your correspondent) that:

The Spectrum’s chief rival was the all-American Commodore 64, a more powerful and altogether more confident system marketed with the emphasis on fun in impossibly wonderful advertisements.

He then went on to talk about how “Commodore and Spectrum owners didn’t like each other”, to which Dara O’Briain[1] commented:

Long before Blur versus Oasis or any of those hideous media inventions of fake clashes, the Commodore versus Spectrum debate was a civil war, a geek civil war whose repercussions can still be felt to this day.

Because the Spectrum was British, you know, it was kind of the local favourite and all that. But… you always knew, tell me you always knew didn’t you? You always knew that you had the lesser machine. Essentially you’d be driving your Triumph which was great and then we’d pull up in a Cadillac which is essentially what the Commodore 64 was. With it’s big, clacky keys. Shift Run/Stop loads and plays.

The author has previously tried to use opinions in print to justify what we shall loosely refer to as arguments so, by that “logic” at least, these comments which were made during a prime time Saturday night television programme should hold even more weight and in future the Spectrum should always be referred to as the “lesser machine” when comparing with the C64. Of course, if we continue down that road we have to consider Charlie Brooker’s comment that…

[…] despite their rivalries Spectrum and Commodore owners could unite on one key issue and that was that the owners of the third system, the BBC Micro, very much the Liberal Democrats of the computer world, they were dicks.


[1] No doubt the author will hold the belief that Dara O’Briain’s love of mathematics is somehow a negation of his opinion; sensible people will of course consider that to be a ridiculous stance.

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