Joybox – A Joystick Alternative
Back in 1988, I had an idea, it was simple… There were a number of games designed for Joystick only, and back then, I much preferred a keyboard than a joystick. Mainly for the accuracy and the feel of keys rather than waggling a piece of plastic and metal… Well that, and I clearly don’t have the motor skills a surgeon needs 🤣
By then, I’d established myself with the Editor of Computing with the Amstrad CPC (Ian C. Sharpe aka Tiffany from the cheats section), with the volume of cheats for commercial games that I had published month on month.
I designed a prototype Joybox (as I called it back then), which was simply a few buttons to handle the Up/Down/Left/Right and Fire buttons attached to a plastic box and a bit of cable.
I took the prototype to my local computer games shop near my school and tested it out with the staff, I’d left it for the day and collected it on my way home. I remember some older chap in the shop at the time who was impressed and asked if I’d patented or copyrighted the idea. I thought that was a strange thing to ask, I was 17 at the time and focussed on my *ahem* security engineering career….
It was agreed, a simple yet elegant idea which the locals hadn’t seen before and enjoyed using. After a discussion, my Editor took a chance and asked me to write an article, if it was good enough, they’d publish. This was probably my first bigger job with the magazine.
Out of interest, I found the original Joybox (made 32 years ago) in my Amstrad CPC Box of HardwareStuff, It hasn’t stood the test of time as you can see from todays photo. If anyone wants it and would like to make a donation to the Cynthia Spencer Hospice, and pay postage, I’ll send it to you. (contact me for more information).
I wrote the article and submitted this in June 1988 detailing instructions on how to build one (Including a switch to choose Joystick One or Two) not only was it good enough, it made the front page of the August 1988 magazine, and landed two and half pages, which meant I could afford the Amstrad CPC Firmware Manual, a HackIt (By Siren Software) and change to buy new clothes with too!
The Amstrad CPC community is very inclusive and it is with great thanks to Bruce Canu and Neil Reive who found the original article for me since my magazine collection has long gone. When I can find HiRes Images of the article, I’ll add them to this blog entry.
I did create an update to this, which included a 555 Timer to add auto fire, and then a further feature for wagging the joystick in preset directions with a variable resistor to change the speed for games like Daley Thompsons Decathlon and others that were notorious for breaking sticks. The designs for which were sent to First Choice Software in Littleborough who were publishing my work on Choice Cheats set of Tapes and Disks. More on that another time…
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