"Silverbird 9.99" was one of several budget 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.
Later it was decided to position Firebird as a full price brand and Silverbird was launched in 1988 for budget releases.
The brand was subdivided into different tiers each with distinctive striped packaging:
"Silverbird 1.99" was for 8-bit releases at a £1.99 price point with red and black stripes.
"Silverbird 2.99" games retailed for £2.99 with yellow and black stripes.
"Silverbird 9.99" was for 16-bit releases at £9.99 with blue and black stripes.
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. However the budget titles did not fit with MicroProse's strategy, which was as a solely full-price publisher. Silverbird was therefore sold to Weston-Super-Mare tape duplicator Tudor Enterprises. A small number of games were released simply using the "Silverbird" name.
Sources: Retro Gamer Issue 88, The Bird Sanctuary (www.birdsanctuary.co.uk)