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ZX Spectrum is 25 Years old !


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From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6572711.stm


How the Spectrum began a revolution


The Sinclair ZX Spectrum helped kickstart a revolution

In April 1982 a small British company, led by Sir Clive Sinclair, launched the ZX Spectrum computer and sparked a revolution.


The small, black computer with iconic rubber keys ignited the home computer age in the UK and beyond, led to an explosion in computer manufacturing and developed software programming talent that is still in evidence today.


The computer was the brainchild of British technology entrepreneur Sir Clive Sinclair who also, with the Sinclair Cambridge, developed one of the first cheap and slim pocket calculators in 1972.


The Spectrum was the third home computer to be released by Sinclair - following the ZX80 and ZX81 - but was the first aimed squarely at the home.


The machine came in two models - ?125 for a 16KB machine and ?175 for a 48KB machine, making it one of the first affordable machines.


First experience


For many people in the UK the Spectrum was their first experience of using a computer and it quickly gained a loyal following.



Sir Clive Sinclair with his latest invention, the A-bike


At the time it was competing against the BBC Micro, which had been released the year earlier and was popular in schools, but was priced starting at ?235.


Other machines from rival firms in the UK followed, among them the Jupiter Ace, Dragon 32 and Oric Atmos.


Rick Dickinson, who was responsible for the look and shape of the machine, said the company had no idea it would make such an impact.


"We started selling kit computers to hobbyists and thought we would sell 1,000 machines a month.


"We went on to sell 200,000 a month and ran into supply problems."


He said cost was the driving factor behind the design.


'No references'


"At the time Sinclair was producing pocket calculators, electronic watches, miniature TVs and until they were made, they did not exist in the market.


"Likewise, with the ZX80, ZX81 and Spectrum, there were no references.


"Everything was cost driven. The design was the face of the machine.


"All the Sinclair products have a very minimalist, very Bauhaus approach - there's no unnecessary detail, or superfluous featuring. They are very elegant."


Mr Dickinson modestly described his design as "nothing revolutionary".


"Form does tend to follow function. We wanted a thin, elegant form."


Many of today's video game luminaries cut their teeth on Sinclair computers, among them Dave Perry, who runs Shiny Entertainment, and Tim and Chris Stamper, who founded Rare.



In 1967 Sir Cive Sinclair pioneered the miniature TV


"Sir Clive Sinclair gave so many British people an incredible step up into the videogame industry, which in a few more years will be bigger than the music industry," said Mr Perry, who began writing games as a school child on the ZX81 and became a professional programmer thanks to the Spectrum.


"Clive is a national hero," said Mr Dickinson.


"He loved looking for technology ideas and often had an idea and had to wait for the technology to catch up.


'Pioneering techniques'


"As a consequence, we were constantly pushing the envelope, pioneering manufacturing techniques which had not been done before.


"All of the technologies in Sinclair products are now implemented all over the world - from the button on your toothbrush to the buttons on a mobile phone."




8-bit Z80 processor

16KB or 48KB of RAM

memory16KB of ROM

Eight colours displayed

256*192 resolution


Many computer programmers today say they owe their careers to the Spectrum.


Nick Humphries, a programmer in the UK who runs a website devoted to the machine, said: "The Spectrum was the first computer we owned.


"It was quite intimidating at the time. We had to get a neighbour round to help get it working.


"But it had an astonishing impact. I did an incredible amount of experimentation with it during my time with it. It was a great tool."


Two more models were released by Sinclair Research between 1982 and 1986, before Amstrad bought the Spectrum range and brand.


More models with improved processor speeds, more memory and built-in disk drives were released but the machines were facing intense competition from cheaper PC clones, Japanese manufacturers, and the arrival of dedicated games consoles.




It was officially discontinued in 1992.


For many people the Spectrum now lives on through emulation; there are many computer programs for PC and Mac as well as mobile devices, that can play digital versions of old Spectrum games.


But there are also a number of websites dedicated to the machine.


Martijn van der Heide, who runs the website World of Spectrum, said the day a friend received his Spectrum is one he will never forget.


"We were all sitting there, looking intently as he opened the box, pulled out the various pieces of hardware, manuals and tapes.


"It was nothing short of astonishing, with a colourful loading screen, weird noises coming out of the speaker while loading, and the games on that tape. Simple ones, sure, but they made a great impact."


Mr Humphries said: "The enthusiasm lives on. It's partly nostalgia but also because at the time we were too young to master the machine and take it to the next level. Now we can." The Spectrum's reign as the UK's most popular computer was brief but its legacy and the affection in which it is held remains to this day.

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As my first forray into the world of home computers I just can't bring myself to get rid of it polo - still have plenty of games all on Cassette tape too ! Altho they prolly won't play anymore.... :P They were always a bit hit and miss when new anyway ! :lol:

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I liked all the games by that manufacturer - ULTIMATE wasn't it ? That's the second Spectrum I had in that Curry's advert mate, bought it near the end from a Curry's bargain bucket was ?20ish from memory as a back up machine for all my games if the Zx Spectrum+ died


As were these:





Lunar Jetman


Sabre Wulf




More info on all their titles available here (with screenshots for most)



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Cool thread :thumbup:


Yeah comes back to me now. I remember the rubber keyed Spectrum and the 128K with the built in cassette player, and I bought something called a zip drive?...turbo drive? for it. Never worked of course, but nothing ever did on the Spectrum...or not for long...

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I built a ZX80 from a kit I bought from Sinclair Research, I wish I'd kept the bloody thing! God knows what happened to it. Then I upgraded to a ZX80 with the 16K RAM pack and then part ex'd that for a 48k SPeccy and then finally bought a 128. I still have the 128, boxed as new. Cant remember what happened to my 48K though. :(


I remeber a thread like this from the old place, bloody hundreds of pages and views.

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Well here is a pic of the ZX80, I never owned this beast but it sure looks like this one has taken a battering !! :lol: Check out the on/off switch on the power bump =))




I started with one of these on a small B&W telly when I was about 9.... The ZX81 !




:P I remember the chunky 16k RAM expansion pack (my Dad built it for me) and also the very fetching thermal roll printer !! Handy for those chunky block screen prints...

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Ah, theres my baby!! :wub: Looks in better nick than my ZX80 was when I last saw it!! :( How the hell we used to write programs on it I will never know!


Blimey LFC!!! You were a posh bugger, you had the printer as well!!!??? :lol: Does anybody remember Miner Forty Niner on the ZX81? It had sound and really cool game play. A real classic.

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Bloody hell, how time flies eh.


My first job when I left school was in a computer shop selling the speccy, mind you though, I always tried to talk people into getting the 64 instead.

I started off with the vic20 then went up to the 64.

You guys remember Jeff Minter of Llamasoft, he hated the spectrum and used to have them in most of his games to shoot up, one in particular, Revenge of the Mutant Camels(I think), when you shot the spectrum as it whizzed around the sky all the keys blew off, just like real life... :w00t:


What about what came after the Spectrum, remember that one???

The Quantum, was from what I remember quite an advanced machine for the time when you consider the competition was IBM and Apple

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The QL was a personal computer introduced by Sinclair Research in 1984.

QL stands for Quantum Leap, as in the intentions of Sinclair it would have been a major leap in computer technology, offering tremendous power for a relatively small amount of money (399 pounds).

The machine was based on the M68008, the lowest price representative of the Motorola's 68000 32-bit microprocessors' family, and it had a second processor to handle the hardware. The compact and futuristic black plastic box hosted the keyboard, two RS232 serial ports, TV and monitor ports, two QLAN (local area network) ports, two joystick ports, AC plug, a 16KB ROM expansion port, the expansion bus socket, and two Microdrives.

These were the mass storage drives of the QL, in which you would insert little cartridges, containing a long (5 m) loop of magnetic tape running quite fast (70 cm/s) under a head similar to that of a normal tape recorder. Each cartridge carried, and often lost, 100KB of data. Microdrives were never adopted by other manufacturers, partly because cartridges were too expensive and unreliable and partly because floppy disks were becoming the standard.

The QL's hilites were the 32-bit architecture (although the 68008 had only an 8-bit external bus), color display, large 128KB memory, expandable to 640KB, and the operating system, called QDOS.

QDOS supported multitasking, partially implemented windows, and had a built in SuperBASIC interpreter.

As the name suggests, SuperBASIC was a much improved version of BASIC; among the many gems of SuperBASIC I'd like to mention functions and procedures (similar to Pascal), powerful and elegant string and array handling, extendibility, and type coercion, a mechanism which made it possible to enter lines like a="23"+4 and, what's more, obtain in a the result of 27.

The QL was sold with four software packages, written by Psion Ltd.: a word processor (Quill), a database (Archive), a spreadsheet (Abacus), and a graphic presentation program (Easel). This software was powerful, a bit slow, and user friendly.

The QL was launched too early in its development for commercial reasons; the result was a system which was buggy and still unfinished. The first machines were delivered to customers with many months of delay, causing excessive press criticism. Despite its marvellous features, the QL never succeedeed in the mass market. Perhaps it was too expensive for hobbyists and lacked large and reliable mass storage for professionals. Third party hardware add-ons, software, and even some QL compatible computers started to appear in the rapidly growing QL market, giving more than reasonable tools to the users, and often repairing to some original QL's weaknesses, but it was already too late. Forced by the QL's early failure, in March 1986 Sinclair sold its products and technology to Amstrad, which wasn't interested in the QL. About 150000 units were sold in the brief and unlucky QL's life.

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I remember the thermal printer with the rolled paper...Vic 20, yeah had one of those.The QL! blimey, memories come flooding back...what a piece of crap that was...lies, damn lies and Sinclair delivery dates.


Didn't Sir Clive get involved in a fight in a pub cos some bloke said he used the Spectrum to play scrabble with...just flip it over so all the keys fall out and use them as tiles... :D

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  • 2 weeks later...

I never had one of those used and recycle condom computers. I went for the ORIC instead. Here a picture and info on the later model. http://www.48katmos.freeuk.com/whatisan.htm


From what I saw and experienced, the Oric pissed all over that ruberised pile o shit But just 'cos it was better didn't mean it attracted more sales. For example, BETAMAX/VHS.

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