Mel Croucher is a British entrepreneur and video games pioneer. Originally an architect, he moved into computers and in 1977 launched one of the very earliest games companies, Automata UK, as an extension of his travel guide publishing business. He is now credited for setting up "the first games company in the U.K.", celebrated as "the father of the British videogames industry" and presented as "a pioneer in affective computing". His first broadcasts of computer game software were made over AM and FM radio. After the release of the Sinclair ZX81, his label published several games for the early home computer market, including three Computer Trade Association award-winners: Pimania (1982), Groucho (1983, a.k.a. My Name Is Uncle Groucho, You Win A Fat Cigar), and the groundbreaking "multi-media" title Deus Ex Machina (1984).
Croucher has written text books, computer manuals and comedy, and worked as a journalist, writing regular columns like Without Prejudice, The Rubber Room, and the comedy sci-fi serial Tamara Knight for the ZX Spectrum magazine CRASH in the 1980s, as well as columns for various computer magazines since.
Mel Croucher is the author of Zygote in Computer Shopper every month since Issue 1 in 1988 and the Mel's World column and the Great Moments In Computing cartoon strip in the same magazine.
In 2010 Feeding Tube Records, a small label in the United States, released "Pimania: The Music of Mel Croucher", a deluxe vinyl LP album of the music to the Pimania games, as well as tracks from other Automata releases. The album came with extensive liner notes by Croucher and Caroline Bren, as well as a large poster featuring selections from the original Automata print campaigns. A 6-album retrospective of his music complete works was released in 2017 by The Games Collector.
In 2012, Mel Croucher reformed Automata as Automata Source Ltd., with leading figures from the video games, online marketing and music industries. He produced a reimagination of Deus Ex Machina, starring Sir Christopher Lee, released in 2015 as Deus Ex Machina 2, alongside a 30th Anniversary Collector's Edition of the original game including new graphics and a director's commentary. He collaborated with Christopher Lee on several other games titles, and their game for children was released as Eggbird in the same year.
Mel Croucher is Executive Chairman of Jeeni, the global streamed music service and artist development platform, which he co-founded with Dr Shena Mitchell in 2017.
- The Pathfinder Quests (1977-1980)
- Whitbread Quiz Time and the Computer Treasure Hunt (1979)
- The Adventures of Willi Nilli (1981)
- The Portsmouth Tapes (1981)
- In The Best Possible Taste (1981)
- Can Of Worms (1981)
- Love And Death (1982)
- The Bible (1982)
- Pimania (1982)
- Dragon Doodles & Demos (1983)
- Spectrum Spectacular (1983)
- Bunny/ETA (1983) - Croucher wrote the ETA portion of the game.
- Yakzee (1983)
- My Name Is Uncle Groucho, You Win A Fat Cigar (1983)
- Pi-Eyed (1984)
- Olympimania (1984)
- Deus Ex Machina (1984)
- iD (1986)
- Castle Master (1990) story and book of the game
- Deus Ex Machina 2 (2015)
- Deus Ex Machina 30th Anniversary Collector's Edition (2015)
- Eggbird (2015)
Books and journalism
- Namesakes, with Jon Pertwee, Sphere Books
- Easy AMOS, Europress
- AMOS Professional, Europress
- Email Direct Marketing, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising
- European Computer Trade Yearbook (as Editor)
- Sam Coupé User Guide, Miles Gordon Technology
- Devil's Acre, Acorn Books
- Deus Ex Machina - The Best Game You Never Played In Your Life, (2014) Acorn Books, ISBN 1783336935
- Great Moments In Computing (2017), Acorn Books, ISBN 9781785387579
- Last Orders: What You're Worth and Who Benefits When You Die (2017), AG Books, ISBN 1785386417
- Pibolar Disorder (2018), Acorn Books, ISBN 9781785388330
- Short Pants (2018), Acorn Books, ISBN 9781785388309
- Official site of melcroucher.net
- Official site of Jeeni Ltd
- The Automata Songs World Of Spectrum archive of music by Mel Croucher.
- Interview with Mel Croucher from May 2001, ZX Golden Years.
- Transmedia stories Interview with Mel Croucher and others from January 2011, on Transmedia storytelling
- Lean, Tom (2016). Electronic Dreams: How 1980s Britain Learned to Love the Computer. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-4729-1833-8.
- Colin Campbell, The one-hour life of a 1980s video game auteur, Polygon, September 25, 2013
- Dan Wood, The Father of The British Videogames Industry, Mel Croucher – The Retro Hour, episode 50, December 16, 2016
- "What is the future of the Internet? – A Discussion between Emmanuel Legeard and Mel Croucher". Cerebrum. April 2017.
- "Deus Ex Machina (review)". Your Spectrum. Issue 10. Dennis Publishing. 1984.
- "Tamara Knight Issue 1". CRASH Online. Newsfield. Retrieved 2006-05-23.