This month John Gilbert looks away from the specific Sinclair publications
MANY GENERAL computer books, not written specifically for Sinclair machines, are so often useful to Sinclair users or other prospective computer owners. The Personal Computer Guide, by Tim Hartnell, provides information on most of the computers available. The guide is split into several sections, with a buyers' guide as an appendix to the computer reviews section.
The computer reviews contain short sections on the general appearance of each computer, approximate price, best and worst features. Hartnell draws some definite conclusions on the performance of each machine.
The guide includes a chapter on the history of computing from the days of Babbage to the present microcomputer boom. There is also a section on computer programming and how to use Basic.
One novel feature is that it has advertisements for a variety of machines, software and add-ons. The book also includes a list of clubs and local organisations which the computer owner can join.
The Personal Computer Guide contains everything a first-time buyer or beginner to computing might need. It is excellent value at £5.95 and can be obtained from Virgin Books.
Computing is Easy, by David Parker and Martin Hann, is an easy introduction to computing. There are many simple programs ready to be typed-in and it is ideal for the young user. A series of cartoons illustrates the book. They explain the concepts and, on occasions, are very amusing.
|'The Spectrum Pocket Book can be recommended. It is ideal for the first-time users and one with experience'|
It has a chapter of debugging exercises, so that the beginner can become accustomed to the types of problem which occur during programming.
At the end of the book various topics are suggested to the programmer, such as currency conversion and composing tunes. The authors leave the programming of those tasks to the user. It is published by Newnes Technical Books and costs £4.95.
The Working Spectrum, by David Lawrence, is the handiest book about the Sinclair computer to appear so far. It charts the design of a series of routines, such as a filing system, an accounting program, a banking program and a graphic designer.
Each of the programs includes a discussion on how it works and the various techniques used, such as sorting and searching in the filing program. Each of the routines has been designed so that they can be used separately or in your own programs.
The book covers business uses, education and, of course, games. On the cover it indicates that it is volume one and I look forward to seeing the rest of the series. The Working Spectrum costs £5.95 and is published by Sunshine Books.
The Spectrum Pocket Book is another new book which can be recommended. It is more general than the previous book in the series, which was for the ZX-81, and includes a large section on machine code, which shows, among other things, how to print on to the screen using a machine code program and the Spectrum ROM.
There is also a full assembler program, disassembler and machine code monitor. It provides much useful information on the internal workings of the machine.
It is ideal both for first-time users and a user who has had some previous experience. It costs £4.95 and can be obtained from Phipps Associates.
Andrew Hewson has launched into the Spectrum market with 20 Best Programs for the ZX Spectrum. The book includes mathematical, graphics and games programs, with information on how they work and how they were written.
It is excellent value at £5.95 and illustrates many programming techniques, including data filing, sorting and binary search.
Easy Programming for the ZX Spectrum, by Ian Stewart and Robin Jones, is another introductory text which can be recommended for the beginner. In particular, there are several good chapters on graphics which show how to paint outlined shapes with colour.
The authors explain how to debug programs and make them more efficient, an important but little-stressed area in most books about Sinclair machines. It is from Shiva Publishing and costs £5.95.
The Spectrum Book of Games, by Mike James, S M Gee and Kay Ewbank, is ideal for all those who just want to enjoy the machine by playing games. It contains game listings for Space Invaders, squash rackets and even nine-hole golf. The programs are all explained but this kind of book is nothing new. Most of the games are based around Space Invaders, Breakout and Find the Treasure.
It is a good start for a beginner who wants to write or just type-in games programs. It is published by Granada Publishing, Hertfordshire and costs £5.95.
Robin Bradbeer edited the Spectrum handbook and can be regarded as an expert on the machine. His new book, Learning to use the ZX Spectrum Computer, is an easy introduction to Spectrum Basic and some of the simple ways in which the computer can be used.
It provides a fine foundation for beginners but users who have some computing knowledge already will find little of interest in it. The book includes two appendices. The first lists additional reading material in the form of books and magazines and the second details the differences between Spectrum and ZX-81 Basic. It is available from Gower Publishing Co Ltd, Hampshire and costs £4.95.