11 Jan 1998
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
- Matt Bielby,
another YS writer, remained at
Future Publishing following the
demise of YS and today
contributes to SFX
- 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
- 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
- Phil South, aka Snouty,
was a technical writer and
"sandwich editor" for
YS. Today he writes for Computer
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.
Your Spectrum / Sinclair
An archive of Wally Week
stories, courtesy of Kev Watson
Worst of the YS
If the magazine was
weird, its readers were weirder. Here's the proof.