Weblogs: Gadgets and Stuff

Sinclair Spectrum 25 years old

Monday, April 23, 2007

It's 25 years today, 23rd April 1982 when Sir Clive Sinclair unleashed the ZX Spectrum within the UK. In one step he created a low-cost machine that could rival existing expensive US imports, and he, perhaps knowingly, started a computing revolution with kids. I know I'm one person who owes his career to the ZX Spectrum.

In celebration of this momentous occasion, I've created a Flickr collection of the Sinclair machines I've collected in the UK.

My first Computer

My first computer was a ZX Spectrum. It was a Christmas present promised by Dad. I had been out of school for well over three months in 1984, and started a new school in October. Dad promised to buy me a computer for Christmas if I passed the year-end exams. I did pass, even scoring an A in Maths.

As well as catching up on lost time school-wise, I also learnt how to program in Sinclair Basic. That involved writing out by hand all the programs into my notebook so I could try them out when I got my computer. We ended up on Christmas day, all three of us were sitting around my new computer betting on the horse racing game I'd typed in.

The computer lasted me two years, playing games, programming my own. My Spectrum did take a fair brunt of youthful impatience, and eventually succumbed to a broken picture modulator.

My Spectrum +2

For Easter in 1988, my parents drove me to Garankuwa, where they bought me a brand new Spectrum +2. (Garankuwa was where a company existed selling Sinclair computers - perhaps it was a tax incentive?). The extra memory and flexibility slowly moved me into more serious programming. I started doing homework on it, plotting graphs of mathematical equations. It also became my chess rival, losing a long string of games until I understood how to play chess properly.

The Sinclair +2 keep me happy while everyone else was dealing with the IBM 8088 personal computers. I finally relegated my +2 for a 386 in the early 90s.

Collecting the memories

With a comfortable lifestyle in the UK, I fell into the e-bay temptation of collecting Sinclair machines. My Flickr collection documents what I have today, and its still missing some notable machines like the ZX81 and the ZX80. Also there's the mystical Sam Coupe that I still haven't got my hands on yet (Nefarious Tim has one!).

I'm proud of my still working Sinclair QL, and my immaculate condition Cambridge Computing Z88. The Z88 was far ahead of its time, and now, only the Macbook comes close to its elegance, beauty and quality.

Thank you Sir Clive!

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