I remember as a youngster discovering the first space invaders machine at the local dairy (I literally ran home and offered to dig mums garden, which was no small feat as we had a typical 1/4-acre section in those days). 60 cents later… I was hooked. Video games are cool.
My first computer was the amazing Sinclair ZX81 (which had a whopping 1KB of memory). The ZX81 required you to type in every program before you could run it, but it was the first home computer ever made. I still have my ZX81 safely stowed.
I then got a Commodore 64 (with 64KB ram and a true floppy drive), which was a heck of a good computer for playing games. I later upgraded to a Commodore Amiga 500 (512KB ram and I later scored a 20 MB Hard Drive) which added the first productivity to home computers. After that I got the first of my many IBM compatible PC’s.
These days, I use a Mac Book Pro at home and an iMac at work.
In 1993, I left University with a Bachelor of Commerce and co-founded a retail store selling Commodore Amiga computers. We loved the Amiga, but after Commodore died, we had to change our plan… so we decided to focus on selling something we loved — video games.
In 1996, we launched our first web site with the intention of using the internet to inform our gaming customers (yes, it was purple).
In 1998 we launched the first Gamezone e-commerce store. The site was developed in-house and it was continually improved over the following five years. Good times.
In 2002, I co-founded Gameplanet with Simon Garner. Gameplanet operates gaming forums, game servers and an online game review magazine. Gameplanet has since become the hub of New Zealand gaming and has won a swag of Netguide Awards. GPForums remains one of the most active community forums in New Zealand.
In 2003, we developed a new web store and changed our name to Gameplanet Store. The new site included the addition of DVDs, Computer Hardware and then Music. We’ve been lucky enough to win three “Best Online Store” Netguide Web Awards for our efforts.
In 2005, I co-founded Zillion with Dylan Bland. We wanted to create a strong alternative to TradeMe and we still believe its important that New Zealanders have an alternative online marketplace. Competition leads to lower prices, better features and improved customer service – all wins for the consumer. Of all the businesses I’ve been involved with, Zillion without a doubt has provided us with the greatest challenge and with that, the greatest learning experience. In 2006 we won the award for “Best New Site” at the 2006 NetGuide Web Awards. Zillion was sold to Sella in April 2010.
In 2008, Zillion launched happysheep, a free online classified site inspired by the likes of craigslist. We built the best site possible with the least number of features necessary and we aim to make the site the best place for New Zealanders to list local events, classes, activities, jobs, services, flats and flatmates, stuff for sale etc. Happysheep has been a fun & easy site to be involved with.
In September 2008, we changed our name from GPstore to Mighty Ape and added books and toys to our catalog. Mighty Ape is continuing to grow rapidly, even in todays stormy economic climate, validating our beliefs that we can make a real impact here in New Zealand. Go the Ape!
Real name: Simon Barton
I’m a keen sports fan and follow a range of sports including: cricket, rugby, rugby league, cycling and the America’s Cup. I also enjoy fishing, hunting, reading, playing video games and spending time with my family. I’m married and have got four boys (all budding cricketers), ages 5 – 10…
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