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.
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).
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.