Planet Sinclair


x The Magazines
x Sinclair User
O Your Spectrum /
Your Sinclair

Last updated
11 Jan 1998

Your Spectrum/Sinclair retains a special place in the affections of many Sinclair users. The magazine, which changed its name in January 1986, was the longest-running Sinclair magazine of them all - from 1983 through to 1994, when its publishers allowed it the dignified exit denied to its competitors. Based in London's Rathbone Square (just to the north of the far eastern end of Oxford Street), it cultivated a self-conscious crapness which could be irritating but could also be, at best, extremely funny. (It liked to describe itself as "crap in a funky skillo sort of way".) Sinclair User tried to adopt the same style from around 1988 but only managed to be irritating.

Your Spectrum's greatest weakness was its approach to games reviews: it would give two-page reviews and a "Megagame" award to a new game despite the game itself often being dire. Its credibility was badly damaged by puff pieces for dire games like A View To A Kill (August 1985), which raised the suspicion that the magazine was compromising its reviewing standards in the rush to get an exclusive. As the editor admitted on the letters page a couple of months after the review of A View To A Kill, "our review was much better than the game itself". And that was far from being an isolated example. Fortunately, Your Sinclair was far better in this respect.

Although it was increasingly (and in the end entirely) games-dominated, YS was by far the best magazine for those interested in advanced programming. It was a topic barely touched upon by CRASH, while Sinclair User concentrated on BASIC, but from the very start, YS devoted much of its space to hardware and machine code programming features. It helped to encourage many of its readers to go on to become professional programmers, contributing to Britain today being second only to the US as a producer of computer games.

History of Your Spectrum/Sinclair

The magazine was launched in January 1983 as a bi-monthly called Your Spectrum, also including a short-lived QL User supplement. It quickly became a monthly as the scale of the demand for a "techie" Sinclair magazine became apparent. The general tone for the next few years was set right at the start - articles in issue 2 (March-April 1984) include a round-up of printer interfaces, machine code tutors, Microdrive debugging, listings and games reviews by "the Staines and Stanwell Computer Club", a mixture which was to remain much the same for the next three years. Though they did get some in-house reviewers rather than rely on Staines and Stanwell every month.

In January 1986, YS was relaunched as Your Sinclair, much more of a games magazine. The name change was in rather mistimed anticipation of new Sinclair computers - only a few months later Sinclair sold his computer business to Amstrad. The next two years were perhaps the most successful period for YS, at least in terms of quality of editorial content.

In 1988, Future Publishing - today, Britain's biggest publishers of computer magazines - bought YS and begun an attempt to reverse the falling circulation affecting all the 8-bit magazines as the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga came to the fore. A tape containing half a dozen or more back-catalogue commercial games was now given away free every month with YS, forcing Sinclair User and eventually CRASH to follow suit. Rumour has it that the contents of some of the tapes resulted in serious legal complications with the games' original publishers. The extra cost of the tapes caused a drastic cutback in the editorial content of all three magazines, with the number of pages halved inside a few months.

CRASH and SU were killed abruptly by EMAP in 1992, but YS continued for another two years before Future decided that it was no longer economic. Unlike its former rivals, YS at least managed to receive a dignified send-off when Future agreed to publish a final wrapping-up issue (inevitably, the biggest-selling issue for several years.) Its back cover featured a picture of two cowboys riding off into the sunset over the caption "Our Work Is Done". Indeed.


If there's one thing that can be said to represent the quintessential YS, it's the gleefully wicked cartoons of trainspotters which emerged from the pen of Nick Davies. The original YS Trainspotters' Award was given each month to the reader who wrote in with the most egregious spotting of a typo or some other trivial error in YS.

Wally Monthly

Jetman it wasn't, but Wally Monthly was a fondly-remembered and very funny strip in Your Sinclair, based on Mikro-Gen's hapless cloth-capped character (star of Pyjamarama, Three Weeks in Paradise, etc). Unfortunately Wally only made 8 appearances in YS. Had the strip been continued and developed, it could quite possibly have been a serious rival to CRASH's all-conquering spaceman.

(See also the Wally Week Webpage, courtest of Kev Watkins.)

Where are they now?

Many journalists passed through YS in its 11 years of life. Ex-YS staffers these days seem to be as common as fleas on a dog:
  • Linda Barker, former editor of YS, is now the club president of Prism PD. She wrote a bit in PD Power.
  • Marcus Berkmann, a writer on YS and sometime reviewer and tips editor, is now (unlikely though it may seem) a journalist for the über-Tory newspaper The Mail on Sunday.
  • Matt Bielby, another YS writer, remained at Future Publishing following the demise of YS and today contributes to SFX magazine.
  • Simon Cooke, YS's "Spec Tech Jr" (aka technical editor), is alive and well and a regular on comp.sys.sinclair. He has put up extracts from YS issues at his web site.
  • Nick Davies, responsible for many of the often hilarious cartoons in YS, now does 'toons for Computer Shopper and various other magazines.
  • Leigh Loveday wrote for YS and is responsible for the huge list of everything ever reviewed in the very last issue of YS. Today he works for for Rare (formerly Ultimate Play The Game) and is a regular on comp.sys.sinclair.
  • Teresa Maughan, aka T'zer - surely YS's best-remembered editor - now writes for The Mac magazine. Either that or someone with the same name is! It's also been reported that there's now a clan of little Maughans - congratulations...
  • David McCandless, aka Macca, went from being a hack on YS to being a hack on PC Zone. From the man himself: "Nice to see some people looking after our cultural heritage. Those were the days." Aah, weren't it nice?
  • Phil South, aka Snouty, was a technical writer and "sandwich editor" for YS. Today he writes for Computer Shopper magazine, mainly about Amigas but also various enjoyable rantings.

Info by: Damien Burke, Simon Cooke, Robert Cooper (aka Icabod), Leigh Loveday, David McCandless, Chris Muskett, Rich and Keith Willoughby.

Marcus Berkmann

Teresa Maughan

David McCandless

Phil South

Articles from Your Spectrum / Sinclair

Wally Week Webpage

An archive of Wally Week stories, courtesy of Kev Watson

The Worst of the YS Letters Page

If the magazine was weird, its readers were weirder. Here's the proof.