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Written By C. Maitland

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C. Maitland, Hammersmith, London

Part of the fascination exerted by John Conway's game, Life, lies in the way it appears to simulate a natural process - the lifecycle of a colony of cells or, perhaps, a population. Narrow your eyes when you look at the display and you can imagine that a colony of amoebas is loose in the cathode ray tube.

For the best animation effects a Life program should be fast. This version for the BBC Models A and B is exceptionally quick and can handle up to 10 generations a second. It uses Mode 7 to plot the cells on a 40 by 25 grid. It treats cells along the opposite edges as adjacent so that a cluster of cells moving to the top will reappear at the bottom.

The program offers you the option of setting up the initial display yourself or taking a randomly-generated display. There is also a choice of speed.

For those who are unfamiliar with the game here is a short explanation: Life generates patterns by applying a few simple rules to an array of cells. Each cell occupies a character space bounded by eight other spaces. If a cell has two or three neighbours it survives to the next generation, otherwise it dies. If an empty space is bounded by exactly three cells a new cell is born.