One of the advantages of the Commodore 64 over some of the other home computer formats e.g. the Spectrum was that it had a disk drive capability. A number of games were released on disk format for the 64 and some made use of the disk space available to create bigger and better games.

The game Little Computer People, designed by David Crane and based on a concept by Rich Gold, took full advantage of the Commodore 64’s disk format - accessing the disk for new information as and when required. This is just not practical with a tape based game because access can be so slow – even with turbo load routines.

Little Computer People was a revolutionary idea – all about a little computer person that lived in your machine! The game was designed with the central idea that you would care for your LCP like you would your own pet! You would load up your Little Computer People Research Project disk every day and enter the date and time of the day’s session. When you used your LCP disk for the first time – you would also need to enter your name, so your LCP would know who his owner was. Then after a minute or so the LCP house would appear on screen and after a further few minutes your LCP would ring the front door and then enter. This was amusing to say the least as your LCP would check each room in the house and decide whether he wanted to move in! – the house would appear the same on every disk sold after all he lives in the same house inside every Commodore 64 computer! Your LCP also came with his own pet dog – which would follow him around the house and needed to be fed at certain times.

Little Computer People - Letter Of Introduction
Little Computer People - Letter Of Introduction

The LCP game was designed with over 250 names and 5 distinct characters - one of these names would be randomly assigned to each LCP disk sold. So although some people believe that each LCP on every disk sold had a different name, this is not actually correct. The name could be the same, however due to the simple but clever way that the look and personality of each LCP was randomly assigned – the chances are that even if a LCP name on a disk was the same as another, the colour of the LCP’s clothes, personality and character could be different. So your LCP may be called “Harry” and come with a baseball cap and white clothes and another may be called “Harry” but with brown hair and blue clothes!

An interesting quirk due to an oversight when the LCP name list was complied is that 4 LCP names, Patrick, Peter, Joseph, and Justin, are duplicated in the name list! – this probably led to more LCP disks sold with the name Patrick, Peter, Joseph, and Justin than other names!

During each LCP session your objective was to observe your LCP and care for him. You would communicate with your LCP by typing in words at the top of the screen. There were about 160 different words that could be used – although some words appear to be inactive – in that they don’t actually appear to do anything! (for a full list, please see the Little Computer People Page).

Little Computer People Activision Catalogue
Little Computer People Activision Catalogue

You would know how he was feeling due to his facial expression which could be happy, moody or sad! and he would use his typewriter to type letters about what he was thinking and feeling – so that you would know how to keep him happy! If he was kept happy by your caring, which would mean keeping him well fed with plenty of water and food, patting him on the head while he sits in the lounge room chair (a hand would appear from the stairs!) and he would grin!, an occasional telephone call or delivery of presents like a book or record would also be very welcome. He would then dance to a record, talk to you via the telephone using some bizzare language, play the piano or computer games or even ask to play card games, like poker. This could become a bit repetitive after a while but it was great fun.

If you left your LCP without attention for a prolonged period of time – like leaving your computer on overnight – he would become a manic depressive and actually turn a sickly green! But you wouldn’t do that would you…

There were also some cute moments – like when he would ask to play poker he would knock on your television screen and you would hear a suitable sound effect that really sounded as if he was knocking the screen! and when he would wash his hands before eating, you would even hear the running water!

As the session with your LCP progressed he would do other things like use the bathroom, take a shower or even go to sleep. He would occasionally read a newspaper and if he was a bit cold then he would go outside and chop some wood and then place the logs in the living room grate to start a fire!
Little Computer People Activision
Little Computer People by Activision

The best feature though was when your LCP played the piano. The music for LCP was by Russell Lieblich (the same guy who did Master of the Lamps) and was just amazing! Your LCP would jiggle about with the notes to the music as he was playing away. The sound interface device (SID) of the Commodore 64 was extraordinarily powerful and the piano music that your LCP played was outstanding. You really would think it was a real piano playing – its that good!

Another notable feature is the quality of the sound effects which are quite frankly amazing. When your LCP walks in and out of rooms you hear his footsteps and the footsteps will sound different depending on what surface he is walking on! The noise of a tap running, phone ringing or letter being typed is also realistic.