Computer Shops From Back In The Day

on-topic Acorn-related news and discussions not covered by the other forums
ThomasHarte
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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by ThomasHarte » Fri Dec 01, 2017 4:26 pm

richardtoohey wrote:Has anyone mentioned south of the Thames yet? :shock:

There was a place in Guildford - on the way between the train station and the town centre proper. Sold 8 bit computers and software. Don't think I bought much there, they were a bit serious. But can't remember the name of it.

Otherwise it was WHSmiths and Boots.
I will perpetually be a decade behind most others here, but I recall a place in Guildford opposite the bus depot but towards the roundabout rather than the shops — Woodbridge Road, according to Google — that sticks in the memory only because by the time I found it, circa 1996, it [still] had a Sam Coupé in stock. There was also definitely a six-month period probably around 1992 that a place probably called Software Plus in Aldershot spent failing to provide the new cassette lead we had ordered.

Being well on the tail end, my shopping experiences were otherwise mostly confined to those tapes that lingered at the local newsagent.

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by Commie_User » Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:45 am

Reading is south of the Thames, where that HMV shop was.

I'm surprised nobody else has mentioned the unsung heroes of kid-level computing - places like Toys R Us, Smiths, Argos and countless poky little newsagents with their carousels of tapes. I bet most kids got their new software and magazines this way, as they would be there anyway. The places kids were likely to be delivering papers for, buying sweets from or being dragged into while having more school stuff bought for them.

And when the 8 and 16-bits were not long obsolete, a nice array of second hand software shops catered for we pre-Ebayers. Reading had a bunch in the 90s but pretty much none now. None which specialise that I recall.

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by ThomasHarte » Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:22 am

Commie_User wrote:Reading is south of the Thames, where that HMV shop was.

I'm surprised nobody else has mentioned the unsung heroes of kid-level computing - places like Toys R Us, Smiths, Argos and countless poky little newsagents with their carousels of tapes. I bet most kids got their new software and magazines this way, as they would be there anyway. The places kids were likely to be delivering papers for, buying sweets from or being dragged into while having more school stuff bought for them.

And when the 8 and 16-bits were not long obsolete, a nice array of second hand software shops catered for we pre-Ebayers. Reading had a bunch in the 90s but pretty much none now. None which specialise that I recall.
Oh, Reading had that one in the arcade on the left if you leave the train station and head into town. I got a whole bunch of cheap Atari Lynx games there in probably about 1999.

My only relevant recollection of Toys 'R' Us is the one in Woking, where my brother sought a ZX Spectrum +3. They had stopped stocking them but still had one on display, so they sold him that one. So I guess that'll be whatever year they discontinued the +3 (1992, maybe?).

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by Commie_User » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:44 pm

The Harris Arcade shop was very spartan and tiny but it always had kids in there. It was just software in there, maybe some joysticks and blank media. There was also a Cash Converters right outside the station, which had a decent dump bin of various tapes and a few micros on the stands, typically the Amiga by the mid-90s. A real dream station for me.

I had the C64 for my computer, right up 'til PCs could make a decent CD. So another shop in the Oxford Road - opposite the Battle Hospital and which only recently closed - suited me for my Nintendo and Commodore wants. And of course there were the junk shops in general. Not to mention the likes of Virgin Megastore for sub-selections for my Game Boy or whatever.


Toys R Us was in the retail park, so had a great selection of possibly remaindered Commodore, Spectrum and Atari 2600 games, plus even curiosities like the Atari 7800, right 'til the mid-90s. They still had the NES and the Master System along with the newer consoles of the 16-bit era, plus the Amiga. I thought the computer section was huge but I think it was just long. It must have seemed very dad-friendly to have the older stuff on sale for budget money, asking as little as about £3 for tapes.

Pre-internet ubiquitous Ebay, we had it pretty damn good in our decent-size towns. Chuck in a Radio Rentals for their decent ex-rental VCRs for a birthday and a kid didn't have it pretty damn bad in the last years of the century.

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by Commie_User » Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:52 am

Ooo, oo, oo: http://www.vintag.es/2016/10/interestin ... tores.html

Image

These are American but I think they count just as much. Especially with this shot of the Apple II, which I'm sure was pretty much the BBC Micro before the BBC Micro was a twinkle in anyone's eye.

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by crj » Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:37 am

So what's that in the kid's pocket? It can't have been a mobile phone and I certainly hope it wasn't a packet of cigarettes!

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by Cutter » Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:51 pm

AndyMc1280 wrote:Vaguely Remember my Beeb coming from Leamington spa (!) in 1987.
When we moved to Scotland My Acorn place was "The Computer Depot" - In an old building at 205 Buchanan street Glasgow. I think they were a chain as there was a place in Edinburgh as well. They did all the 8/16/32 bit stuff, spectrum/Amstrad/Acorn/Atari/Commodore and some PC's I think. I remember the Acorn stuff being on the upper level (I believe there were 2-3 floors).

Ayr had a COMCAL - which wasn't as well stocked but nearer to where we ended up living.

No pics I am afraid. :(
I remember The Computer Depot - got a few Arc games there. The Acorns were on the upper floor - I seem to remember there was also a Tarot card reader / fortune teller on the very top floor in that building and there might have been a tattooing parlour as well.

THere was also a Comcal in Glasgow on Bath Street - just up from The Computer Depot and turn left - I remember seeing an Arc in their window BITD running some 3D demo - looked amazing at the time. Comcal seem to have closed down there some time in 2015 - there a "Simply Fixit" mobile phone repair shop there now I think.

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by martinw » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:05 am

Commie_User wrote:Ooo, oo, oo: http://www.vintag.es/2016/10/interestin ... tores.html

Image

These are American but I think they count just as much. Especially with this shot of the Apple II, which I'm sure was pretty much the BBC Micro before the BBC Micro was a twinkle in anyone's eye.
Sweet :D

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by mr-macrisc » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:03 pm

No photos but the one in Inverness Victorian Arcade was probs only proper consumer computer shop in highlands in late 89's early 90's

Canny find any photos of it back then :(


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Dethmunk
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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by Dethmunk » Fri Feb 16, 2018 9:04 pm

Ah, back in the day in Sheffield (UK) there one place to go.... city centre Just Micro (famously the beginnings of what would be Gremlin Graphics).
Happy days spent in there on a Saturday morning... brilliant. :D

Image
Image

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martinw
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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by martinw » Fri Feb 16, 2018 9:49 pm

Dethmunk wrote:Ah, back in the day in Sheffield (UK) there one place to go.... city centre Just Micro (famously the beginnings of what would be Gremlin Graphics).
Happy days spent in there on a Saturday morning... brilliant. :D

Image
=D>

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by chinnyhill10 » Fri Feb 16, 2018 10:18 pm

ThomasHarte wrote:
richardtoohey wrote:Has anyone mentioned south of the Thames yet? :shock:
There was also definitely a six-month period probably around 1992 that a place probably called Software Plus in Aldershot spent failing to provide the new cassette lead we had ordered.
Software Plus was great. Certainly compared with the competition.....

4 miles away in Farnham a new computer games shop opened in 1992. It was called Star Games. Except nobody at our school called it that.....

You see the owner had a moustache, and a certain kind of haircut. Everyone at our school called the shop "Hitler Games".

Hitler Games was remarkable not only for being run by Hitler, but also the fact it had no customers and actually not much stock. Certainly nowhere near the amount Software Plus carried.

About 9 months in Hitler rearranged his shop and moved the counter to the opposite wall. This was an attempt to turn around what was a failing business. At the end of his 1 year lease he closed down. He claimed that this was because the shop was moving but this was unconvincing and untrue.

Even as a kid something felt wrong about that shop. Hitler aside, no stock and no customers meant it was inevitable that it closed.

There was also another software shop in Aldershot opposite one of the entrances of The Wellington Centre which stocked an astonishing amount of C64 disk software and not much else. Although it wasn't immediately obvious its was a software shop as it was a back room in another shop. Possibly models.

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by joachim » Fri Feb 16, 2018 10:27 pm

chinnyhill10 wrote:moved the counter to the opposite wall. This was an attempt to turn around
That's not what "turn a failing business around" usually means …

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by richardtoohey » Fri Feb 16, 2018 10:29 pm

Cough Maybe (drumroll, punchline ahead) the writing was on the wall? :lol: No? :-#

ThomasHarte
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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by ThomasHarte » Fri Feb 16, 2018 11:01 pm

chinnyhill10 wrote:
ThomasHarte wrote:
richardtoohey wrote:Has anyone mentioned south of the Thames yet? :shock:
There was also definitely a six-month period probably around 1992 that a place probably called Software Plus in Aldershot spent failing to provide the new cassette lead we had ordered.
Software Plus was great. Certainly compared with the competition.....

4 miles away in Farnham a new computer games shop opened in 1992. It was called Star Games. Except nobody at our school called it that.....

You see the owner had a moustache, and a certain kind of haircut. Everyone at our school called the shop "Hitler Games".

Hitler Games was remarkable not only for being run by Hitler, but also the fact it had no customers and actually not much stock. Certainly nowhere near the amount Software Plus carried.

About 9 months in Hitler rearranged his shop and moved the counter to the opposite wall. This was an attempt to turn around what was a failing business. At the end of his 1 year lease he closed down. He claimed that this was because the shop was moving but this was unconvincing and untrue.

Even as a kid something felt wrong about that shop. Hitler aside, no stock and no customers meant it was inevitable that it closed.

There was also another software shop in Aldershot opposite one of the entrances of The Wellington Centre which stocked an astonishing amount of C64 disk software and not much else. Although it wasn't immediately obvious its was a software shop as it was a back room in another shop. Possibly models.
I have to admit to not having been aware of much in Farnham other than Our Price, the Redgrave Theatre and, ummm, the level crossing. Especially after they built the bypass.

A repressed memory of Aldershot has returned though: wasn't there also a shop that specialised in secondhand hardware somewhere on what a map tells me is the A323, shortly after the roundabout? I remember fantasy browsing in there. Definitely also did software, but I think less obviously?
Last edited by ThomasHarte on Fri May 25, 2018 7:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by sbadger » Fri Feb 23, 2018 5:19 pm

ThomasHarte wrote:
chinnyhill10 wrote:
ThomasHarte wrote:
A reworded memory of Aldershot has returned though: wasn't there also a shop that specialised in secondhand hardware somewhere on what a map tells me is the A323, shortly after the roundabout? I remember fantasy browsing in there. Definitely also did software, but I think less obviously?

Was it one of these buildings? I recall seeing something but had moved to the area and it closed not long after.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.24987 ... 312!8i6656
So many projects, so little time...

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by chinnyhill10 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:12 pm

sbadger wrote:
ThomasHarte wrote:
chinnyhill10 wrote:
A reworded memory of Aldershot has returned though: wasn't there also a shop that specialised in secondhand hardware somewhere on what a map tells me is the A323, shortly after the roundabout? I remember fantasy browsing in there. Definitely also did software, but I think less obviously?

Was it one of these buildings? I recall seeing something but had moved to the area and it closed not long after.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.24987 ... 312!8i6656
If it was the late 90's then I remember buying a 486 PC in a shop opposite the multi-storey for about 40 quid. That had loads.

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by ThomasHarte » Sat Feb 24, 2018 3:19 pm

Yeah, it was definitely around there somewhere, from the early '90s and I think still there in the early '00s but possibly having pivotted to be less about computers. For some reason I feel like there was also an independent secondhand console games shop on that street just around the time the Playstation appeared, but that it was a different shop. But it might not have been.

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by fizzyade » Fri May 25, 2018 3:55 pm

My A3000 came from the Micro Studio in Soham. I think I had a power supply replaced (or fixed, was there a known fault?) at Newton and Brewer in Witchford as well.

The Micro Surgery in Cambridge as well was a place I used to visit, I remember lugging my A3000 + External 52MB drive along in a suit case there as a young lad!

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by Commie_User » Sun May 27, 2018 9:31 am

Even though I was there, all this stuff in the 80s completely passed me by. Other than owning some LCD games or playing on someone else's school computers, Atari 2600 or ZX Spectrum once in a while, it was always tellies, video machines and stereos I aspired to and sometimes got for myself.

Computers were too expensive, especially when they kept changing and Dad wanted a really good VCR anyway. And the point of this little ramble is that as computers both excited and confounded me, I assumed anyone really good at them - maybe even the games? - would go on to be maths professors or build spaceships in later life. I can't have been the only kid to think like this but perhaps I'm in the minority.

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by Andy1979 » Sun May 27, 2018 10:52 am

Pretty sure my Dad bought our Atari ST from Tandy in Coventry. When the power supply went pop we had it fixed by JBC Micros - think they still exist, but have migrated to IT training and cloud computing services these days.

Subsequent purchases of kit came from Evesham Micros, but I think our A3010 came from Watford Electronics.

Most upgrades came from our annual visits to the Wembley Acorn World show - can remember gingerly carrying our 120meg harddrive back to Victoria coach station on the tube. Needn't have bothered being so careful as it failed anyway after a few months, and then again a few months later. Second replacement is still working today :D

Sadly no photos of any of this, but remember it all quite clearly.

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by pcbbc » Thu May 31, 2018 11:57 am

The Data Store, 6 Chatterton Road, Bromley.

Here it is as pictured by Google in August 2008, still with the Acorn logo on the illuminated hanging sign:
datastore.jpg
It appears it lived on until sometime between 2008 and 2012, when it became Excellent Electrics.

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by BigEd » Thu May 31, 2018 12:09 pm

Which led me to check the astonishingly interesting history of UK dialling code changes - 081 was only used from 1990 to 1995, apparently. Not that shopfronts and vans were necessarily updated with any great urgency when numbers changed - as apparently in this case.

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by pcbbc » Thu May 31, 2018 12:27 pm

BigEd wrote:
Thu May 31, 2018 12:09 pm
Not that shopfronts and vans were necessarily updated with any great urgency when numbers changed - as apparently in this case.
Surprisingly many signs and shop fronts still survive with the pre-1990 "Dial 01 for London" numbering scheme...
01forlondon.jpg

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by BigEd » Thu May 31, 2018 12:41 pm

For some reason I quite like that.

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Elminster
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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by Elminster » Thu May 31, 2018 1:06 pm

You have to wonder if they have had many phone calls in the last 20 years, at least from anyone not trying to fix there PC or sell them double glazing.

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by BigEd » Thu May 31, 2018 2:34 pm

I've just had a flashback to that phrase "dial 01 if you're outside London" from radio and television (because life was more complicated in those days.) If you dialled 01 inside London, you'd get an error, apparently.

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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by z0m8ied0g » Thu May 31, 2018 4:41 pm

Dethmunk wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 9:04 pm
Ah, back in the day in Sheffield (UK) there one place to go.... city centre Just Micro

Thats looks just like the place I bought my A3000.
A place called Wants in Plymouth.

I remember wanting a radio controlled car (the kit type) and looking at having it for Xmas and my birthday with me buying the control gear.
I'd been on about the A3000 since its release as we had a few at school. Never thought in a million years I would get one.
On Christmas eve we went into Plymouth to do some shopping, I thought this to be strange as my dad hates shopping in Plymouth.
So after spending several hours window shopping we came across the Wants computer shop, I glanced in the window and there was the A3000.

Then it happened, my dad said the words i'll never forget "You better go inside and collect the one we've reserved you".
Best Christmas ever. I have no idea where my parents got the money from but if they hadn't bought that machine i'd probably be working at McDonalds now. Instead I made it my career and have my own business writing software.
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Re: Computer Shops From Back In The Day

Post by markjw » Thu May 31, 2018 8:19 pm

I miss all the little computer shops from the 80's that were local to me (West London) - there were a few I remember, JKL Computers in Windsor Street, Uxbridge, Lighting Records in Ruislip (the bottom floor was a record shop, but they had a dedicated computer floor upstairs). There was the original Watford Electronics (33 Cardiff Road) which was part of the owner's house (got my BBC's 5.25" floppy drives and a few other things there), and another in the centre of Watford (where the Intu shopping centre is now)

Others I can't remember the names of, but there was one in Moor Park, Watford by the station that I got a Microvitec Cub monitor from for my original BBC model B (both the store and the monitor now sadly gone), another in Regina Road, Southall (they did the DFS upgrade on my model B)

Think the only one from back then that I can remember that is still trading is SRS Microsystems, High Street, Watford - they sold camera equipment as well as computer stuff back then and the camera side of the business has survived.

Anyone know of any others that are still trading in any form?

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