That Was The Year That Was: 2007

By Dave E

Originally published in EUG #68

Another year gone, another retrospective on The Year That Was 2007. If you snuggle into our cosy corner of cyberspace with any regularity, none of this will really be news and, to be honest, if anyone ever asked us the point of this retrospective, or previous ones, we'd struggle to find an answer. Let's face it, we just like bragging about all the new additions that we've made, and what kind of a year it's been for the Electron in terms of publicity, and whether there's been any new or old programs that have really made us sit up and take notice.

First of all, you may have noticed that this year, there were some style changes to both the Electron User and EUG review pages. They've had the computer equivalent of a perm and all are now part Javascript with links back to the home page, screenshots and logos. The main catalogues have also been given similar treatment, with summaries of how many discs are known to exist from a particular author, how many have (so far) been tracked down and made available. The fact is that there's not very much now that remains missing at all and, if you think of this site like a giant Panini sticker-book, we've now reached the stage where we've stopped adding pages to it and are simply trying to fill up the ones that we have got. This year we got ahold of some of the rarest software we've ever seen: 3D Tank Zone, Row Of Four, Computer Knowhow, Pascal's Triangle, Gatwick Express, White Magic 2, Suds and Gamemaker 2 being prime examples.

Overshadowing these 'old' titles however, important as they are, were the developments in 'PD World' whereby several wholly new archives sprang up, all of which, although household names to the BBC community, featured software for the Electron hitherto unheard of. Acorn Electron World is now proud to be the only host of archives from Bazzasoft, BBC PD, Bobrowski PD, DJ PD, HeadFirst PD, Mad Rabbit PD and The Micro User. In relation to this last archive too, it is noteworthy that the latest MU discs feature some absolutely cracking new multi-part games (amongst them Androidz) that no discerning BBC or Electron user should be without!

Sticking with the new, several new discs appeared over the course of the year, put together with tender loving care by Dave E. As he was learning the French language for the first part of it, there was a distinctly French theme to February, with the three-disc extravaganza A Vous La France patiently discified. Hot on its heels came the French version of the Acorn Electron User Guide: Guide De L'Utilisateur in Word Format, with the English version also transcribed (as an afterthought). Back to discs again, Collins' Starter Pack - Intermediate Level, Het BBC Computer-Spelen Boek (Dutch title), 40 Educational Games For The Electron, 60 Programs For The Electron and finally Cascade 50 Games were all not just transferred to disc, but tarted up with beautiful menu screens and loading titles galore. Both Alligata Action Packs were given a similar treatment.

Mid-year, the Electron was shunned completely at Retro North but hits on our web site did go up sharply after a six page feature on the BBC in Retro Gamer magazine. The BBC PD and EUG libraries featured prominently along with screenshots galore. The event of the year followed shortly afterwards with the release of Daniel Pugh's Music Demo World, an essential disc for anyone lucky enough to own an upgraded Electron with a Sound Expansion Cartridge. Even more surprisingly for its hardcore fans, THE produced a demo which wasn't triple X rated, and in fact had a solid mathematical experiment at its heart.

Thinking all hope was lost in relation to HeadFirst PD, ten years of campaigning for any discs brought a swift result when its founder revealed he still had disc images of the entire catalogue buried somewhere on an old desktop. A nervous wait while he located them followed, and then there was euphoria at Acorn Electron World HQ as this catalogue was made available for the first time since 1993!

As promised, we waded into the Electron User scan archives and indexed each and every last article, review, program, utility and piece of trivia that we could. These were then linked with the appropriate games in the main catalogue, meaning posters and advertisements now sit alongside your favourite game in each catalogue. Oh yes, and we even got ahold of one of the two missing HCW magazines (Now where is the other missing issue? Maybe in 2008...?).

So this was 2007 at Acorn Electron World. This year, there was more danger of us typing our fingers off than the scanner blowing a fuse. Just in the new discs transferred, we estimate we typed up more than over 200 programs, and, as usual, discs sit 'in the pipeline' waiting to be completed. Recently when showing off the different areas of the site to a colleague for the first time, she viewed it in an amazed stupor and, although she freely admitted she "didn't understand the passion" we had for it, could not help be impressed by the amount of information it contained. By next year, of course, it will contain even more. And it's only been running for five years... What on earth's going to happen next year?