Founded in 1986 by Richard and David Darling (who worked previously for Mastertronic), Codemasters established themselves in the growing ZX Spectrum market, mostly with action games that required the player to solve simple puzzles by combining different objects, such as the Dizzy series. While rooted in the ZX Spectrum, Codemasters did not write exclusively for this computer - they also released software (including the Dizzy series) for the Commodore 64, Commodore 16, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, Amstrad CPC, Atari 8-bit, Commodore Amiga and Atari ST.
They were famous for releasing a long series of "Simulator" games, mostly sports simulations (such as Pro Boxing Simulator). This led to the parody "Advanced Lawnmower Simulator" being developed, praised to the skies and then published by Your Sinclair magazine as an April Fool's Day stunt.
Codemasters were one of a number of software houses in the 1980s that only released low retail price titles. However, in 1992 they began to cut down on the budget releases in favour of full-price titles.
As the 8-bit computer market diminished, Codemasters turned to developing for the 8-bit and 16-bit console markets, as well as moving away from their budget title legacy to more full-price games on the 16-bit computers — 1993 saw the last title in the budget Dizzy series, Crystal Kingdom Dizzy, although they released a full-price Dizzy game, Fantastic Dizzy later. They had major success with the Micro Machinesseries and Pete Sampras Tennis on the Sega Mega Drive. Both franchises featured the J-Cart, allowing two extra controllers to be attached to the game cart without requiring Electronic Arts' 4 way play orSEGA's four player adaptor.