This was a particularly nasty error message for the Sinclair Spectrum. The vast, vast majority of software for the machine came on tape, and took five to ten minutes to load - even longer if you had a posh 128k-only game.

Thus, after sitting for five minutes, staring at a loading screen and a border of stroboscopic, psychedelic patterns whilst listening to the characteristic crunchy loading tone, it was quite depressing to be greeted with a white screen and:

R Tape Loading Error - (0:1)

This was usually caused by chewed tape, a drop in volume, faulty audio cables and random cosmic events. The grim finality of the message seemed to find a mirror in the recession and mass unemployment that beset the UK at the time - anybody who had to sign on for dole money would recognise in 'R Tape Loading Error' the unbending, non-negotiable language used on government forms. The tape had failed to load due to an 'error'. You were an error, your tape was faulty; there was nothing wrong with the machine. The only possible response was to press a key and try again; nothing else could be done. Zero. One.

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