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Programmers

           
Pete Cooke Mike Singleton Matthew Smith

Today, only a handful of programmers and games designers are widely known to gameplayers - figures such as Shigeru Miyamoto (Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers), Sid Meier (Civilization), or John Carmack (Doom, Quake). In the early 1980s, however, it was considerably easier to get into programming - for many, that was the reason why they had computers in the first place. Individual programmers soon became celebrities, fêted as wunderkinds. Almost exclusively, they were young men, many not even out of their teens, and canny publicists wowed the general public with stories of 15-year-olds being given Ferraris and improbable salaries.

Not surprisingly, the burnout rate was high. Some cracked completely under the pressure, most famously the still-elusive Matthew Smith of Jet Set Willy fame. Othes survived, prospered and have today helped Britain become a world force in software publishing.


Chris Owen 1994-2003