The ‘Gordon’ half of Search: “Miles Gordon Technology”, before forming MGT Bruce Bremner Gordon was a hardware designer at Sinclair Research in Cambridge.
One of the most famous stories was that Bruce offered to design and build an upgrade to the Coupé to address its shortcomings such as lack of DMA and hardware scrolling if ‘1000 people sent him £50’ to develop a new ASIC. This was announced in the November 1992 issue of Your Sinclair. However, only 64 coupons (pledging support for the offer) were received.
Your Sinclair Interview (Recovered), courtesy of The YS Rock ‘n’ Roll Years.
Bruce Gordon is the 'cerebral' half of Miles Gordon Technology. The SAM Coupe wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for this man (he did actually design the blinking thing, after all). Actually, he did more than just design it... he actually designed a brand-spanking-new computer chip to go inside it. It's said in some circles that Bruce is three and a half times more brainy than Sir Clive Sinclair - and we can well believe it. In fact, we decided to phone Bruce up and ask him a few questions about the machine. (And a couple of other things.)
YS: What sorts of things can you do in SAM Basic that you can't do in Spectrum Basic?
Bruce: God, that's a bit of a question, isn't it?! I could go on for ever and ever.
YS: We haven't got quite that much room. Just hit us with a few goodies.
Bruce: Well. There are the Procedures for a start. You can assign a segment of a program to a Procedure, name the procedure and call it whenever you want. (It's sort of like a posh Gosub. Ed) Then, of course, there are the 128 colours on offer - and all sorts of commands with which to manipulate them. And then there's the Blitz command...
YS: What's that?
Bruce: Well, SAM Basic is about six times faster than Spectrum Basic anayway, but by using the Blitz command you can assign a series of graphics to a String, tell the computer to Blitz$ and the Basic routine you've saved is transformed into Machine Code. This actually speeds up the onscreen proceedings from six times faster to 20 times faster.
YS: Blimey. Okay, what about the sound then? We know it's got six channel stereo (with two more for white noise), but what about the Midi port? Will there be any dedicated software packages around to utilize it?
Bruce: You bet! We've already been approached by two companies who wrote Midi Software for the 16-bit market. They've already seen the potential. In my opinion, the SAM Midi packages will be able to approach and in some cases actually better those available to ST users.
YS: Better them?
Bruce: Well, I don't like to be pinned down on these things, but I'll definitely say that it will equal them.
YS: To get to the add-ons, then. Are they all ready yet? And if not, when?
Bruce: Well, the disk drive is ready now, but there's going to be a tiny wait for the mouse, light pen and light gun. Not long though, we're looking towards March - probably the early part. As for third party add-ons, who can tell? We're encouraging as much support as we can get, obviously, and we've got a brilliantly reliable expansion bus at the back of the machine.
YS: There will be a double joystick adaptor, won't there?
Bruce: Oh yes, I forgot to say. There is one and it's available already - for about six pounds.
YS: Good. Um, you originally stated that Spectrum software will be 90% with the Coupe. Do you stand by that figure? We've actually heard reports that it'll be more like 50% compatible.
Bruce: Ah... well, we had to make a few minor changes to the ROM at the last minute, which changed things a bit. It's not as bad as you said though - we're expecting compatibility with Spectrum games to be somewhere in the region of 75%.
YS: Well, that's better than the Specturm +2A, so well done. About the actual appearance of the SAM. Was the casing designed by someone who works in a wind tunnel?
Bruce: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. No. It was designed by 'creative artists'. We gave a 'brief' to a few design teams, left them to think about it and do some designs on paper, and then we picked the one we liked the most.
YS: Do you agree that the average age of the Coupe user will be lower than that of the current Spectrum user? The way we see it is that older Spectrum users will upgrade to 16-bit while the younger ones (who don't stick with their Spectrums) will 'sidegrade' to the SAM - which will ensure you get continued support from the software houses. And parents of children who want a 'first computer' will be attracted to the SAM because of the fact it's 'state of the art', has plenty of software (a lot of which will probably be educational), and of course the price.
Bruce: Yes, that's just about it actually. The kids will want it because of the vast wealth of available games, and there parents will want it because of its educational potential. We always wanted it to be an educational computer. There's going to be a hell of a lot of educational software (as well as all the games).
YS: Hmmm. One last question then. Is it true that your partner, Alan Miles, once got slapped across the face by Clive Sinclair and responded by headbutting Sir Clive to the ground?
Bruce: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. No. There's no truth in that at all.