Now you can invite Little Computer People to take up residence in your 128
Originally sighted inside the Commodore 64, it now appears that the Little Computer People have started to crop up in other places as well, namely 128K versions of the Spectrum (apparently there's not enough room inside the 48K models - they may be Little Computer People, but they're not *that* little).
But what are these little beings (LCPs as they are sometimes called?). The first LCPs were observed by American programmer David Crane, who had suspected the presence of tiny human beings within his computer for some time when he created what he called a 'house on a cassette'. Loading this cassette into the machine created a small home inside it, empty and just waiting for someone to come along and live inside.
When you load your own 'house' into your 128 or Plus Two you are first of all presented with a notepad into which you enter your name, the date, and time of day. This, and other information about your LCP is continually updated and carried over from session to session.
Once we had gotten our own Plus Two loaded up, we all found ourselves sitting in front of the Spectrum, staring at the empty house on the screen. After a couple of minutes, a small head stuck its way around the front door, than an LCP entered to give the place the once over.
This was Drew, a cool-looking LCP sportng sunglasses and bow tie, who proceeded to take up residence (accompanied by his Little Computer Dog). Once your LCP is in, you've got a choice: you can sit back and do nothing and just watch him (yes, *him*, I've yet to hear of any sightings of LCP-esses which, by implication, gives rise to all sorts of interesting questions) wander around, or you can send messages or perform various actions via the keyboard.
Left to himself, Drew seemed perfectly happy to go about the house cooking, listening to his stereo, tinkering with his computer or even doing aerobics. You can sit and watch for ages and your LCP will get on with things on his own. Watching this is a bit like playing with worry beads - ultimately pointless, but quite calming somehow.
However, like all intelligent beings, your LCP has certain needs which have to be met - food and drink have to be supplied by you, via the keyboard, and when he gets a bit fed up or lonely it's up to you to cheer him up as best you can (perhaps by playing cards or anagrams with him).
There are certain actions which you can always rely upon, such as giving him a new book or record to play, but there is enough scope within the program to allow you to experiment and discover how best to get on with your LCP just as you would do with any other person.
Remember though, that if you neglecct your LCP he's likely to go green and take to his bed with a terminal cause of the sulks, so it's your responsibility to look after him.
Little Computer People is thoroughly ingenious and a genuine oddity. It's an entertainment of sorts, though it's not a game. In a way it can almost be described as the computer equivalent of background music, except that it offers you the opportunity to get involved with what's going on. It can't be recommended to a specific audience in the same way that an adventure or arcade game can be, but if you've got a 128 or Plus 2 why not say hello to a Little Computer Person sometime. Who knows, it could be the start of a beautiful friendship.