Retro: The Computer Cookbook

Year: 1984
Format: Spectrum 48k

It’s 1984 and computer magic is exploding throughout Britain.

The Spectrum 48k wasn’t just a toy for playing daft video games. No, this was an opportunity to redefine the way we lived our lives.

And it was visionaries like beardie ‘freelance chef’, Ian M Hoare, who were pushing the boundaries. He could see the amazing potential of putting a Spectrum 48k into the kitchen.

The implications were literally mind-blowing. What if you could create an ‘electronic cookbook’?

What if; instead of taking a recipe book into the kitchen, you could lug in a massive telly, computer and tape recorder?

What if; instead of flicking through a few pages, you could wait 20 minutes to load up a buggy database which you would navigate using a baffling menu system?

What if; instead of hundreds of recipes, you could only store 60 because of the computer’s tiny memory?

These were the thoughts pulsing through the synapses of Ian M Hoare’s brain. If this could be done – it would transform cooking forever. This was the dream which inspired him to create the Computer Cookbook.

But like many of the world’s great visionaries, Ian M Hoare was ahead of his time. The public whinged and whined – they said he was an idiot. They said there was absolutely fuck-all point in having a computer cookbook.

They weren’t prepared to face the challenges of steamed-up monitors and fat-smeared keyboards. They weren’t prepared to wait 20 minutes for the privilege of finding a recipe for Pheasant Normande. They weren’t in the slightest bit interested in knowing that Nebbiolo is the correct wine to have with a steak and kidney pie.

So the kids carried on dicking around with their Spectrum games, and the parents carried on using those dusty old recipe books; and Ian M Hoare disappeared. It would be another 24 years before his vision would finally become a reality.

The year is 2008 now, and the world was finally ready. It took the form of a DS game called What’s Cooking? with Jamie Oliver. A copy of which is now a staple part of every good kitchen.


  • A man called Ian Hoare was recently posting vaguely racist things about Indian contestants on MasterChef.
  • The world record for eating the most Ferrero Rocher in a minute is seven and held by a Danish bloke.
  • Sixties celebrity chef Fanny Craddock once delicately observed that: “Only a slut gets in a mess in the kitchen.”

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