The programmers and artists behind Goldeneye and Donkey Kong 64 started their careers on more modest equipment. This article by Keith Ainsworth from RETROGAMER fanzine tells you how they began.

Christopher Stamper was bitten by the video game bug early. "I was hooked right from the first ping-pong games. For the first time, I could control something on a TV". He discovered computers when he was at Loughborough University. These where the days when if you wanted a computer you had to build it from a kit. His degree in physics and electronics at the university led him to build the RCA CDP1802 computer. It was then the fastest system around. He says "Immediately I could see all the possibilities the new computer offered me and I decided to devote my life to explaining them". One of the first projects he did with this new technology was to design a traffic lights program.

It was the summer of 1980 Chris was 21. He quit his course and took a job with a games manufacturing company. They were repairing the early arcade games and also converting them. They would take the old Space Invader circuit boards and convert them into the latest game, Galaxian. At the same time he bought the very first Sinclair home computer the ZX80 and started to program on that. After two years with computer firms he decided he could produce better video games. He teamed up with his younger brothers, Timothy who left his technical design course at Leicester Poly and Stephen who dropped out of his Poly course (he had only been there a month).

He was also joined by his girlfriend Carole Ward (who was later to be his wife) and a college friend John Latchbury (sometimes reported as Lathburg). The brothers also knew Joel Hochberg of Coin- It Inc. in Miami through their arcade jobs.

Together in 1982 they formed Ashby Computers & Graphics Ltd. They produced a couple of little known coin-op conversion kits to bring in some funds (kits like these normally soup up a game say by making the aliens faster etc.) and then started trading as Ultimate Play The Game. They worked from the house next to their parents newsagents in Ashby De La Zouch in Leicestershire. The venture was supported by the brothers father, who had moved the family around a lot in search of jobs.

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