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Manic Miner For Collectors (Part 1) – First Edition, First Release

Manic Miner – First Release (Whistler) – 1983

An awesome collection of Manic Miner and its sequel Jet Set Willy
(image courtesy of Adrian Grubb)

There are collectors of classic games. They love the games, and the variants of those games. The variants are many, especially of games that sold a lot, and which were released several times including by different software houses.

Manic Miner is one of the classic, if not THE classic game for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k, written by legendary games programmer Matthew Smith.

Manic Miner Expert Adrian Grubb, passionate collector and one of the Admins of the Facebook Group Central Cavern, has written and researched a great deal on the topic.

This is Part 1 of a series of articles on PopeyMon Games and Fun, about Manic Miner. The series looks only at the Spectrum editions, versions and variants. It is aimed at collectors. Collectors love variants and as is shown in the articles, and the photo above, there are lots of variants of Manic Miner. For a summary of the differences between the program/game itself, see here.

An Introduction to the articles and links to Part 2 and Part 3, are here.

The Introduction (Part 0) here includes an important Footnote about how these articles hope to lead to a definitive statement of all the variants of the Spectrum releases of Manic Miner, and the spirit in which Adrian Grubb originally wrote the Facebook versions of the articles, and the spirit of the Spectrum community which will be maintained here.

The articles are edited versions of the results of Adrian’s research on the variants of Manic Miner for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

The Introduction (Part 0) here includes an important Footnote about how these articles hope to lead to a definitive statement of all the variants of the Spectrum releases of Manic Miner, and the spirit in which Adrian Grubb originally wrote the Facebook versions of the articles, and the spirit of the Spectrum community which will be maintained here.

Adrian writes…

In response to much debate concerning first and second-release Manic Miners, here are my First Release findings, obtained using nine copies of Manic Miner.

Three different types of tape for the WHISTLER release…
Showing 3 Cassette Variants of the tape. Collectors LOVE variants.
(image used with permission of Adrian Grubb)

The inlay above shows the Whistler release by Bug Byte. This is the First Release of Manic Miner and the First Edition.


TO THE EYE there are three different headers used to load the game. The header is the first part of the loading of the game, before the game itself is loaded. But there are variations in them in the Whistler version of Manic Miner.

  1. Game Loader Variant 1. Screen turns black with thick white bar at foot of screen. Bar covered over with black when alternating (flashing using the Spectrum’s flash attribute) Manic Miner appears.
  2. Game Loader Variant 2. Screen turns black. When alternating Manic Miner appears, a thick white bar appears at foot of screen also and stays during load. (This would suggest alternative code in the loading program).
  3. Game Loader Variant 3. Whole screen turns black and stays that way until alternating MM appears. (Again, suggesting different code).

In other versions of Manic Miner, there are other versions of the Game Loader. These will be documented in future articles.

Four copies of the nine copies in this test were identical in every way – see the photo above for the versions of the tape described below:

  1. Cassette Variant 1 (top of photo). A black cassette with red lead-in, label to one side only. Game Loader Variant 1 used on both sides. Two more copies of the black cassette had identical contents to Cassette Variant 1 but:
    – Variant 1a? One with a label applied to the opposite side. Should this be classed as another variant (1a)?
    – Variant 1b? Black cassette with red lead-in, label to one side only. Loader Variant 3 used on Side A, Loader Variant 1 on Side B. Should this be classed as another variant (1b)?
  2. Cassette Variant 2 (middle of photo). A grey cassette with red lead-in, label to one side only. Game Loader Variant 1 used on Side A, Loader Variant 3 on Side B.
  3. Cassette Variant 3 (bottom of photo). No labels, printed onto a lighter grey. The cassette has small tulip in centre of pattern on top edge of cassette on both sides, yellow lead-in. Cover logo printed on both sides of cassette.All three printed light grey cassettes had an identical loader, Game Loader Variant 2.


ALL cassettes of all three variants are marked Made in England either on label or printed.

In conclusion, there’s three types of the first-release of Manic Miner (Whistler).

Printed cassettes come in light grey, labelled cassettes come in a darker shade of grey or, more commonly, black.

There are even more variants of Manic Miner, including releases on the Software Projects label.

More articles on Manic Miner will be published here on PopeyMon Games and Fun soon… Part 2 is now here.

2 thoughts on “Manic Miner For Collectors (Part 1) – First Edition, First Release

  1. […] Part 1 of these articles talked about variants of the First Release (“Whistler”), releas… This Part 2 talks about the Second Release (“Lantern” or “Lamp”), also released on Bug Byte. […]

  2. […] Part 1 of the Manic Miner For Collectors series was about the First Edition, First Release on Bug By…. Part 2 was on the First Edition, Second Release that was also from Bug Byte. […]

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