Archive for February 2017




Britain in isolation


At the beginning of 1957, the European Economic Community (EEC) was formed. This group was originally made up of West Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. They were joined in 1973 by Britain, Ireland, and Denmark, then in 1981 by Greece. The following year, the Commodore 64 was released.


The aims of the EEC (which later became the European Communities or EC, then later still the European Union or EU) were to prevent another war between its member states, protect them from being threatened by larger countries in the World, as well as to become more or less self sufficient, involving lots of trade protectionism, meaning that although some goods from the rest of the World would be allowed in, most of the goods consumed in the EEC would be produced in the EEC. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) made sure that the EEC could feed itself by paying farmers to keep producing as much food and drink as possible, surplus to demand. This created what were called a “butter mountain” and a “wine lake”. Sometimes, the butter had to be sold to the USSR because there was so much of it, but the objective of being self sufficient in food and drink had been achieved.


Unfortunately, things didn’t go entirely according to plan. Lots of foreign computers were widely sold in the EEC and at one stage Commodore was the largest supplier. Of course, there were also lots of computer manufacturers native to the EEC, including Sinclair, Acorn, Tangerine with their Oric and Microtan computers, Thomson, and Olivetti. I remember Ian McNaught-Davis (RIP) on the BBC’s Micro Live TV series presenting some charts which showed how there was a lot of trade protectionism in the USA, where European computers weren’t popular and even more so in Japan. I also remember Tony Bastable (RIP) in the ITV series Database reporting from Japan that they couldn’t find a single computer on sale which was European or American. They were ALL Japanese!


There is such a thing as non tariff barriers. Some examples of these were France insisting that all video recorders sold there must have SCART sockets, as well as forcing all Japanese video recorders to be inspected by a single inspector to slow them up getting through customs. Obviously, the EEC should have blocked Commodore from ever setting up a subsidiary inside the EEC, then set up some kind of quality control or non tariff barrier to stop Commodore computers from entering the EEC, but they failed to do either of those things.


An emulator of the Robotron A5105 computer released in mid 1989 in the final 15 months of East Germany


Meanwhile, in the Eastern Bloc, Warsaw Pact, or COMECON countries, western technology was either banned or not allowed to be sold to those countries, so they made their own. Sometimes, these computers were clones or lookalikes of western computers, such as the Sinclair Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Apple ][, as well as high end IBM minicomputers or mainframes, but produced in the east. Other times they produced fairly original computers, such as the East German Robotron A5105, which was a combination of Amstrad CPC type hardware, that had been upgraded to display more colours (320×200 with 16 colours, 640×200 with 4 colours), but with a BASIC called RBASIC, similar to MSX BASIC. This proved it could be done. A demo disk shows a another  Robotron KC Kleincomputer model, which is just a CPC clone.

Robotron Kleincomputer CPC clone demo disk


Meanwhile, the Brazilian government allowed Brazilian companies to copy foreign companies’ designs and sell them in Brazil.


A Brazilian computer enthusiast shows off the TK90X Sinclair ZX Spectrum clone


The EEC could have made up some rules such as that foreign computers sold in the EEC would have to have a minimum spec before getting a permit to be sold. Computers made by companies in the EEC all seemed to have quite advanced versions of BASIC, so Commodore and Sharp (whose MZ80K had NO language on ROM), could have been required to have the same. Unfortunately, they weren’t.


In Sweden there was a quite well thought out computer called the ABC80  , which came out in 1978. This was based round the Z80 CPU and had its own type of BASIC, which was self compiling, so ran much faster than other dialects of BASIC, at a similar speed to Assembly Language/Machine Code. It also had a bus extension system, allowing it to accept plug in cards. Unfortunately, it didn’t have hires graphics, but these could have been added on a plug in card later on, plus there was an upgraded version for business, called the ABC800, which did have graphics. Unfortunately, this computer wasn’t very successful outside Sweden, which was probably due to Sweden only being part of EFTA instead of the EEC. Similarly, in New Zealand they also developed some innovative computers, such as the Poly-1  and the Aamber Pegasus , which even used a dial to select one of several boot ROMs, but as New Zealand had a small population and wasn’t part of a big integrated trading bloc, they weren’t very successful outside New Zealand, or even at all.    


Nowadays, about 85% of countries in the World are either in or about to join a bloc of countries promoting free trade, a common market, or economic and political union. There are blocs in southern Africa, west Africa, east Africa, the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, South America, and elsewhere


Prime Minister Theresa May leads Britain into isolation


The phenomenon known as Brexit is short for Britain exiting the EU. If this mad shit actually happens, then it will mean no free access to the EU Single Market, a lack of resources to design and produce goods, as well as individual consumers in the EU boycotting British goods, which has already started. It can be summed up as “Little Britain”, named after the BBC sitcom. After this, there might actually be a lot of manufacturing in Britain by cottage industries, making copies of foreign computers because most people wouldn’t be able to afford the real thing, the same as happened in the USSR, where there were lots of Sinclair Spectrum clones. Of course, no other countries would buy these goods. The price of computers in Britain has already started to increase, as you can read about on


Apart from the above, there could be lots of very cheap and crappy goods flooding into Britain from China, with hardly any restrictions at all. A lot of these goods could lack fundamental features that buyers would automatically think should be included, similar to the BASIC on the C64. Some examples of this from the past are Amstrad video cameras and satellite receivers. In spite of marketing the excellent CPC computer range, Amstrad later brought out a camcorder with no zoom, and no playback through the non existent viewfinder, as well as satellite receivers not designed to pick up more than 16 channels, without decoders, and no facility to tune into audio carriers on different frequencies from the Astra satellites. This was OK for the original unencrypted Sky TV UK package and other channels on the Astra 1 satellite, but required add ons when Astra 2 was launched, as well as when Sky UK was encrypted. I think people should watch out in case China produces a phone which can’t make phone calls, but can only send texts and run apps. Of course, I advise everyone against subscribing to Sky TV, or to unsubscribe if they already do, because it’s owned by Rupert Murdoch, who brainwashed lots of people in the UK into voting Leave, because “When I go to Downing Street they do as I say. When I go to Brussels they usually take no notice”. I think people should just download whatever is on Sky TV that they want to watch from Torrent sites, and subscribe to or build a VPN if necessary to subvert any restrictions on Torrents by their ISP. Also don’t watch Fox productions at all (e.g. 24, (Fear) The Walking Dead, The Simpsons), because Fox is owned by Rupert Murdoch, so they may contain brainwashing and even subliminal messages.


Just imagine what a difference it would have made! If the Commodore 64 had been banned in the EEC !


Posted February 17, 2017 by C64hater in Uncategorized