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User Summary

"Firebird" was one of several labels from British company Telecomsoft.

In 1984 British Telecom, now BT, was on the verge of being privatised and was looking to diversify into new areas. Having worked with early bulletin board systems such as Prestel, there was a growing realisation that in the future, content would be as important as the delivery channels. Telecomsoft Entertainment was therefore created to publish computer games.

Tony Rainbird was recruited from publisher Micro Gold to run the new division. Originally the games were to be published under the name Firefly Software, but after various other companies with similar names protested, the name Firebird was chosen at the suggestion of PR and Marketing Manager James Leavey, who had been listening to Stravinsky's Firebird Suite earlier that day.

The first games were published on two tiers - "Firebird Gold" at £5.95 and "Firebird Silver 2.50" at £2.50. The first batch of 20 games was published for Christmas 1984 across the four main computer platforms popular in the UK at that time - ZX Spectrum, Vic 20, Commodore 64 and BBC Micro. A cheaper "Firebird Silver 1.99" was later added, as was "Firebird Super Silver" as a mid-range brand. "Firebird Hot!" was also added as a mid-range brand.

In around 1986, "Firebird Gold" and "Firebird Hot!" were retired as standalone brands and "Firebird" without a qualifier was used instead.

In 1988 it was decided to position Firebird as a solely full price brand and Silverbird was launched for budget releases. Some early games released on the Silverbird labels still had the Firebird logo on the cassette labels and/or in-game.

Telecomsoft was sold by BT to MicroProse in 1989. MicroProse continued to publish games under the Firebird brand.

Sources: Retro Gamer Issue 88, The Bird Sanctuary (www.birdsanctuary.co.uk)

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