In a shocking turn of events this week, dedicated fans of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum have been
contradicting years of vibrant worship and declaring its great rival, the Commodore 64, as the
superior computer. The revelations have been sending shockwaves throughout the
During the Eighties, the ZX Spectrum was pitched against the Commodore 64, a rivalry that
brought countless bitter disputes and broken friendships, particularly in the UK. By 1986, a
Spectrum owner couldn't be friends with a Commodore owner unless an Amstrad owner was
present for them both to laugh at.
But today, in what many observers are calling an outbreak of mass hysteria, the years of
criticism and abuse of the Commodore machine appears to have ceased as Spectrum fans all
over the country finally admit that their pathetic little machine pales in comparison to the
One such fan is Mark Howlett, an Essex-based Spectrum enthusiast who runs a popular
Sinclair fan site called Arse Lord. "I first saw the Speccy in 1982 at a micro show in
London," he remembers. "I was only two-and-a-half years old, but I instantly knew that this
was a marvellously British piece of technology that would hugely impact the games
Soon Mark would be enjoying the Spectrum's vast range of virtually-identical platform
games. "I've always had a fondness for the plucky underdog or a cheap and vastly inferior
piece of technology," he admits. "So, the Spectrum was right up my street."
Martyn Carroll, the editor of the UK's premier retro gaming magazine, Atavistic Gamer,
recalls the first time he touched the Spectrum's fabled rubber keyboard. "It felt so soft and
formless, and it made it feel like you were playing Jet Set Willy on a row of warm Opal
Fruits. But I loved it, and I always make sure that there are at least five articles about the
Spectrum in every issue of Atavistic Gamer. It's the least I can do."
Meanwhile, Speccy fan Retro Hitch has made his name streaming Spectrum games, his
legion of fans enjoying his weekly streams of virtually-identical platform games. "There's no
doubt about it; the ZX Spectrum is the best computer ever, despite its painful lack of memory, pathetic sound, messy attribute clash, terrible keyboard, and a general lack of the
kind of frills we expected even back in 1982,” he says.
Yet these three fans, along with many other Spectrum devotees, today find themselves falling
in love with the umber charms of the Commodore 64. How has this dramatic event
happened? "I simply woke up one morning and suddenly realised that the C64 doesn't just
have a brown display," reveals Mark. "It can also do beige, tan, auburn, bronze, brunette,
buff, hazel, mahogany and my favourite, burnt sienna." Atavistic Gamer editor Martyn
Carroll has had a similar shocking epiphany. "The Speccy may have been idiosyncratic,
iconic and impressively compact. But one day, I just recognised that what I needed was
something more soulless, utilitarian and nondescript. That's when I realised the Commodore
64 was the computer for me."
For Twitch streamer Retro Hitch, the graphical charms of the C64 have converted him. "It
was like that blaze of sharp and finely-tuned pixels had been surpassed by these large,
unwieldy and unsightly blocks," he notes. Like the others, Retro Hitch has become a
dedicated Commodore 64 fan and now streams its sepia-toned games on his Twitch channel.
"I do miss streaming virtually-identical platform games, and now everyone's really serious
and boring,” he admits. “But the Commodore 64 is undoubtedly the technically superior
computer, and that's what counts."
With the cause of this dire epidemic still unknown, Spectrum fans across the country
continue to pledge allegiance to the bland breadbox that is the C64. Finally, after 40 years of
petty arguments, falling outs, strife and acrimonious quarrels, it appears that this particular
videogames battle can finally be settled once and for all: the Commodore 64 is better than the
Sinclair ZX Spectrum.