Back In The Day, The Thompson Twins Were At The Forefront Of Multimedia Add-Ons

Jun 19th, 2007 // 6 Comments

tt01.gifOur minds were blown this morning when we found out that a) there was a video game based on the adventures of the Thompson Twins, and b) someone had decided to save it on the Internet for posterity–but finding out that the game’s origins lay in the grooves of a flexidisc made us unable to type anything into the emulator but “What? What??” A post on vinyl-embedded video games explains:

One strategy that major record companies have been employing lately to deter downloading is adding bonus computer content to new CD releases. I recently discovered that this technique is not unique to CD’s, but had in fact been practiced in the vinyl era as well. That’s right: there were a handful of records released in the late 70′s and early 80′s that contained computer programs as part of the audio. This is totally insane, and totally great.

Most of these programs were written for the Sinclair Spectrum home computer series. The Sinclair Spectrum was a relatively cheap home computer system that used a television set as a monitor and loaded programs from tapes. It thrived in England in the early 80′s:

“If the PC is the great electronic product of the 1990′s, the Sinclair Spectrum was the great electronic product of the 1980′s. The Sinclair ZX Spectrum (nicknamed the Speccy) was invented by Sir Clive Sinclair, a British Inventor. “

In the case of these programs on vinyl, the user would have to play back the proper portion of the record, record the resultant chatter to tape, and load the tape into the spectrum. Some users have mentioned playing certain games so much that they could recognise the loading sounds.

The game is pretty rudimentary–it’s sort of like King’s Quest with more protagonists and less of a point–but it’s still a lot more interesting than most of the multimedia extras we’ve seen in CDs of recent vintage, most of which seem like elaborate ruses to get people to an e-mail harvesting Web site. One thing, though: Why does going north only make the Twins drown? Does the collective weight of their hair result in it being impossible to swim?

Thompson Twins Adventure, The [; hat tip Jess Harvell]
Vinyl Data []


  1. Butch Huskey

    i bought some art prints and old books from Joe Leeway at a garage sale a few years ago it was hardly worthy of mentioning in Gawker Stalker but , finally i can tell my story ! i mentioned going to Joe’s garage sale to my co-worker and she said “oh i know Joe, he and i used to carpool to my ‘how to be a psychic’ learning annex class”

  2. ass-hat

    gear! i had a spectrum precursor: the ZX81. it printed out onto a thin roll of silver foil, like a metallic toilet roll. needless to say the ZX81 couldn’t handle what the thompson twins were bringing.

  3. MJ

    Wow, I had a ZX Spectrum! I thought it couldn’t get more primitive than reading a video game off a tape, but this tops everything.

    And I’m certainly able to hum the loading sounds with a bit of prompting.

  4. Breliant

    For those to young to remember the sound of machine code (chatter) its not unlike the sound of a fax only louder and longer.

  5. It Must Be Take a Worm for a Walk Week

    Information Society did a lot of this stuff as well. Super nerdy.

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