Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Emulation (Games) Classic Games (Games) Hardware

Sinclair And Clones Computer Show 218

Posted by timothy
from the lovely-keyboards-too dept.
Anonymous Coward writes "The Sinclair ZX Spectrum seems to be alive and well with 'Your Sinclair' magazine being relaunched at WH Smiths newsagents, and according to this, there is a Spectrum and clones computer show in Norwich, England, (the other Sinclair formats and clones include the QL, SAM Coupe, Timex/Sinclair, ZX81, Z88 etc). It looks like it could be fun. I must get my Spectrum out and play some games."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Sinclair And Clones Computer Show

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    When you're LISTing a program on the Speccy and it asks you to scroll go into extended mode and press a key... the screen scrolls up lots of garbage. Bug or easter egg?
  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dot.Com.CEO (624226) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @05:11PM (#10610524)
    Am I the only one who thought that T'zer was no hottie? That magazine was years ahead of its time, by the way...
    • True... but she was a she, and in those days there weren't too many of them interested in computers!
    • ...still have a pile of decaying copies somewhere. Crap games corner, loads of software on the cover tapes, Linda Barker being the girl everyone wanted as their best mate, Julian Gollop's "Chaos"...

      Some of the magazine's original content is archived here: The Your Sinclair Rock'n'Roll Years [ysrnry.co.uk]. Go easy on the server, people.

      More info about Chaos (one of the most addictive eight-player games ever) here: The battle of the wizards [alt-tab.net].

      It's almost as if the last fifteen years never happened.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 23, 2004 @05:12PM (#10610530)
    does it run Linux?
    • No.
    • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @05:41PM (#10610640) Homepage
      I *did* write a task-scheduler for the Spectrum once, which could sequence eight different tasks. I incorporated something derived from it into some embedded controller code (running on a Z80) for a company that did, well, embedded stuff. I heard a bit later on, that the company had been bought by a large electronics manufacturer, and the simple scheduler I'd written while off my tits on magic mushrooms one night while I was in 6th year at high school, has since been incorporated into the braking system controllers of a very high-end automobile...
    • Need I say more? And no, you don't need [uclinux.org] CPU with built-in MMU.

      BTW. How's that Doom clone on the Speccy doing?

  • What fun! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by reality-bytes (119275) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @05:16PM (#10610542) Homepage
    I must have a dozen Spectrums of various iterations kicking about here - including 2 of the early blue-key types complete with microdrives and microprinters.

    I even have a couple of 'docking bases' which allowed (IIRC) you to network up to 16 Speccys together in series.

    It just really suprises me that there is enough interest still going in the spectrum to actually warrant a magazine relaunch.

    'Back in the day' I used to own my spectrum primarily for gaming. The magazine to have was 'Crash' (complete with cover-mounted cassette). Now there was a real magazine; it wasn't even glossy ;)
    • Re:What fun! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dot.Com.CEO (624226)
      The docking bases were called "Interface 1" and were one of the most amazing hardware at the time. I also remember having a huge box housing a 3.5'' drive (oh yes!) and a composite monitor port - Opus Discovery I think it was called. The joys of loading a game in 3 seconds :->

      Also, please, Crash was vastly inferior to YS. It was not funny. YS was.

      • Re:What fun! (Score:2, Informative)

        by JimStoner (93831)
        Always preferred Crash myself (not that it matters much after 20+ years). I always dug the cover art by Oliver Frey (I think was his name) - he also did the "the terminal man" comic strip inside. For a reminder... http://www.crashonline.org.uk/
      • Wasn't it the 3" disks?

        (Actually 3"x3.5" or something like that).

        Things like the spectrum +3, Amstrad CPC etc used the 3" disk format; I forget the capacity now but it wasn't huge.
        • No, you are confusing it with the abominable Amstrad made Spectrum +3. The Discovery had 3.5 inch, single sided single density, about 200Kb per disk irc...
          • Suprisingly, in all my Speccy ownership, I never came across that format.

            Did they look just like the 'modern' (now legacy) 3.5" disks?
            • The Opus Discovery 3.5" disks *were* the modern 3.5" disks. Of course in those days they had just been developed, that's why the disks were single sided, single density, rather than the later double sided double density capacities. The Opus Discovery disk could store 180K formated. Not very much these days but much more than the mircodrive's 85 - 100K and much faster and more reliable.
          • When the Amstrad made Spectrum +3 came out, 3" disks were already an almost 'dead' technology, having been beaten by the superior 3.5" disks. 3.5" disks were "proper" disks with tracks, 3" disks used a single spiral track going from the outside of the disk to the inside. 3" disks had to be explicitly ejected and turned-around to use both sides, where true double sided capable drives were becoming available for 3.5" disks. 3.5" disks, as mentioned, were therefore obviously superior to the 3" disks.

            There
    • I remember my first speccy (my first computer) - I had to save up my wages from a paper round, and then could only afford the 16K version. I couldn't make much use of the colour, as I only had a b/w tv set with a stick-on green overlay so it looked "professional" - yeah, I know ;-) Man I wrote so much code on that thing, starting with basic, and typing in whatever appeared in the weekly copies of whichever computer mags I could get hold of. Then moved on to assembler - and learning almost zen-like patience
      • I feel for you with the zen-like patience while 10k of code loads from an audio cassette.

        Unfortunatley, I just can't resist giving you nightmares tonight;

        BWAAAAAAAARRRRRRRR BIP! BWAAAAAAARRRRRR BEEEEBEBEEEEEBEEEBEEE BIP!

        Do you remember those hypnotic lines around the restriced area of the screen too?
      • Of course now even my mobile phone has 100 times the CPU power and 256 times as much RAM, but I was still glad to have been around when the early affordable home computers were born; when computer courses were all about programming and understanding how the machines worked instead of how to use Word and Excel in the MS sponsored "education" (or rather, training) of today.


        Hmmm... maybe I went to the wrong school, but apart from Logo and a tiny bit of BASIC (maybe not even that), all the computer stuff we
    • I had (still have) the strangest clone of ZX, it was called Byte made by some obscure electronics plant in a country called Moldova in Eastern Europe. The keyboard was made out of rubber that wore off and I had soddered by hand key-by-key a new keyboard taken from some electronic typewritter after I cut a whole in the case of the console to expose the contacts. I remember tuning the tape player for maximum gain, playing IKARI, and my all time favourite Stock Cars. I even made a special keypad to emulate a k
  • by Pan T. Hose (707794) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @05:17PM (#10610548) Homepage Journal
    is why doesn't anyone massively manufacture faster CPUs basing their underlying design on the ZX Spectrum architecture which while being notably simple algorithmically (low count of transistor gates and intergate connections) would be significantly more effective considering the heat and power they would produce as compared to the legacy 386 architecture we use now. That might be something we all wait for: battery powered, silent PCs with no moving parts. Could that be the ironic future of computing: simplicity?
    • Simplicity, at GHz clock rates it is not enough. Let me explain it, on the KHz and MHz era was quite easy to have a "omnipresent" main clock signal, nowdays, at GHz clock rates that it is almost not possible to achieve: you have to do "sync on target" tricks, alas "hyper transport", "net burst", "usb", "1394", "serial ata", and other syncrhonization protocols. The GHz rate clocks are only feasible on small regions of a micro circuit die, as example, on your favourite GHz processor (say Intel's P4 or AMD's O
      • There are some relatively simple things you can do with multiphase clock generators to solve clock distribution problems. You can have each circuit block tied to one of many outputs from the clock generator. You select the phase based on the propagation delay of the clock line and local timing requirements. It's a way to precompensate for propagation delay across the chip. It may not get you to 1 GHz, but it scales better than a single clock.
    • I think we'd all rather have a simple but modern architecture with a boat load of registers.
    • Silent PC (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @06:02PM (#10610720) Homepage Journal
      Well, you can get that today with an ARM based unit..

      Extreme low power, and they run really cool... Just check out your PDA if you doubt that...
    • What I find interesting...is why doesn't anyone massively manufacture faster CPUs basing their underlying design on the ZX Spectrum...

      Oh, I know this one! It's because they're all stupid, right?

      I'm certain that the engineers and scientists at Intel, AMD, VIA, Transmeta, Motorola, IBM, SGI, etc. (many of whom with EARNED Ph.D's) are all sitting around reading Slashdot so that they can harvest your pearls of wisdom, and learn from the master how to build faster microprocessors. If they would just clock a
    • Well, modern cpus are clocked so much faster for two reasons. 1, the transistors are smaller, and therefore faster. 2, modern cpus do less per instruction per clock, due to instructions moving through the cpu's pipeline. While a sinclair might execute an entire instruction in a single clock, a modern Pentium will break that instruction into close to 30 clock cycles, doing a very small portion of the instruction in each pipeline stage. The downside to this, is that when a jump or branch occurs, which is
  • Popularity? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Saturday October 23, 2004 @05:17PM (#10610549) Homepage
    This brings up a question that I've been wondering. Sinclair machines were very popular over in Europe, right? Could anyone tell me why they took off over there and not over here?

    Either way, neat show. Wish I could go.

    • Poor Marketing

      This is what prevented them from being a really big player here.

      It's also what killed the atari comptuer products..
    • Re:Popularity? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pesc (147035) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @06:04PM (#10610731)
      Sinclair machines were very popular over in Europe, right? Could anyone tell me why they took off over there and not over here?

      The first machine I bought was a Sinclair ZX-80. I bought it because it was very inexpensive. It was the first complete system to sell for under 100 pounds, which was revolutionary cheap for the time.

      The circuitry was amazing. It had 1 KByte of memory which also serverd as video memory! I remember that someone crammed in a chess program into that. The original BASIC interpreter was 4K. (Why are all program so damned big nowadays?)

      To make the system very cheap, it had no dedicated video circuitry! You stored characters in RAM and ended each line with 0x76. (The less text you had on display, the less memory it used.) To display the text on the screen, you set a special bit in hardware and jumped to the RAM character buffer. The CPU would start to fetch instructions from the text buffer, but the hardware would clear all bits fed to the CPU (00=NOP). Instead the RAM output was fed to the BASIC ROM which now served as a character generator. When the end of line was reached, the 0x76 code was fed to the CPU which interprets that code as a HLT (halt) instruction. So no more bits were fed to the display until horizontal sync, which gave the CPU another interrupt. So with a minimum of 74xx logic gates video text could be generated at low cost and extremely low memory requirements. Of course, the screen went blank when executing BASIC code.

      It was an amazing machine and I have many fond memories playing with it. The schematics was included so you could do some hardware hacking as well.

      • Re:Popularity? (Score:5, Informative)

        by mikael (484) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @06:54PM (#10610993)
        Here are some adverts from that era

        Applications for games and applications [hw.ac.uk].

        It's amazing they managed to get a flight simulator (if a bit blocky) running.

        The $149 computer [hw.ac.uk]

        The $99.95 computer [hw.ac.uk]
        • Here are some adverts from that era

          *sniff* Ahhh... ye olde Sinclair ZX81 (aka the Timex Sinclair 1000)... my first computer.

          My Dad secretly added on a real keyboard for it (or somehow getting one with a proper keyboard), taught himself how to program, and then pretending not to know how to program he just sat back and let me go at it.
          • Re:Popularity? (Score:3, Informative)

            by mikael (484)
            There used to be small mail-order companies who adapted standard keyboards for the ZX81. They used to advertise in the small columns of Personal Computer World. If I remember correctly, the keyboard was black, and fitted over/around the ZX81 (not unlike the Dell keyboards 20 years later!) with the exact ZX81 keyboard lettering on the keyboard.

      • The circuitry was amazing. It had 1 KByte of memory which also serverd as video memory! I remember that someone crammed in a chess program into that. The original BASIC interpreter was 4K. (Why are all program so damned big nowadays?)

        Sheesh...They have to fit all those bugs and security vulnerabilities somewhere!!!
      • Why are all program so damned big nowadays?

        Because they do a damned sight more, that's why. I had a Spectrum - one of the original rubber-keyed 16KB models. Sure it was great, but I'll stick with my 2.4GHz PC and 1/2gig of RAM, thanks, at least until I can upgrade.
      • I remember that someone crammed in a chess program into that.

        I remember waiting 20 minutes for the CPU to take its turn on the highest level... 20 minutes to work out that the opening move was P-K4! It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.

    • Probably a combination of money (you only wanted a speccie if you were terminally broke) and the fact that "Uncle" Clive (Sir Clive Sinclair) was kind of famous in the UK. But, my first home computer was a VIC-20 (eventually when they were sort of dying I bought a QL, mainly because the guy sitting next to me did the UCSD p-system port for it :-;). Oh, and I had a pre-production 512K RAM
      card (somehow I forgot to return it when I left
      said company above (accidentally honest !)).
      (To those who know, adding the
    • I don't think they where all that popular in Europe. In the UK yes but not in the rest of Europe. Part of it probably have to do with the fact that it where "English". They where cool machines but frankly the Vic-20 was better than then ZX-81s, the C-64 and Atari 800s where better than the Speccy, and the Amiga, and ST where better than the QL. Later the Microsoft/Intel monster killed the all the interesting home computers. Intel/Microsoft created the Kudzu of computers.
      • I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I own a couple of C-64s, a 48K Spectrum, a TS-2068, a PC-8300, a 130XE Atari, and QL (yes, I lived on both sides of the Atlantic). I have also programmed on a ZX-81, a VIC-20 and an Atari 800XL. My all time favorite is the Spectrum. Somehow it was just a lot more satisfying of a machine than any of the others (the 800XL would be second). Maybe it was the time, maybe it was the associated culture, I don't know but I still love my Spectrum while I don't think

        • I should have probably not said better. But in graphics and IO I feel the Atari and C-64 where better machines. Now as to fun programing that is a very presonal thing. Most people on hear probably do not get it since most of them think Perl is da bomb :)
    • And in Soviet Russia the BK-0010 programms you!
    • Probably because America was playing with Apple then.

      No, really. IIRC when ZX80/ZX81/ZX Spectrum were storming Europe, Apple and Apple II were doing fine in the US. So the Apple machines were never heard of here, while Sinclair machines were almost unknown in the US.

      Robert
  • by kilf (135983) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @05:22PM (#10610569) Homepage
    Video of the hardware panel at NotCon '04, showing a demonstration of the current speccy DemoScene, and playback of a music video off an HD.

    http://quernstone.com/notcon04/
    http://quernsto ne.com/notcon04/NotCon-Hardware-hig h.mov
  • My 16k Speccy still worked... it came down from the Attic about 3 months ago, I was amazed.

    I don't have a cassette player that I can plug in to load any games though. :(

    JET SET WILLY LIVES FOREVER.

    POKE 35899, 0
    • Jet Set Willy won't live forever if you only have a 16K Spectrum!
    • POKE 35899,0 is the poke I also still most remember. Even 20 years later, wake me up in the middle of the night and ask me "How do you get infinite lives in Jet Set Willy" and I could tell you :-)

      The neatest one liner:
      FOR n=1 TO 80:CIRCLE n,n,n: NEXT n

      The DevPac Assember was also cool.

      Anyone remember the teach-it yourself programming course, where one issue came out every week called INPUT? I still have them.

      My speccy setup:

      Spectrum 48K (sometime along the line: upgraded to a Plus, then replaced with a
    • Run a lead from the audio out on your PC to the speccy MIC port, use Taper on the PC to load and play TZX or TAP files down the wire. Files from tzxvault and/or world of spectrum (use google for that)

      For the record, I've got a cupboard full of speccy gear, including a naked zx80, four zx81s, boxes of cassettes, and speccys from 16kb to +3. Nostalgia...

      And 3 years ago I finally picked up issue 1 of Crash magazine, to add to my original collection of issues 2-50. I've been looking for that mag since 1985
  • TK85 (Score:3, Informative)

    by stm2 (141831) <sbassi@genesdigi[ ]es.com ['tal' in gap]> on Saturday October 23, 2004 @05:35PM (#10610617) Homepage Journal
    In Argentina there were some authorized clones made by a local motor company (Czwerny). Here are some pictures: czwerny [lomasretro.host.sk] (these are not mine).
    Also in Brazil, I got this model imported from Brazil:
    TK85 [outlawnet.com].
    I also have some CZ1000 and CZ1500 (were called TS in US).

  • by jon514 (253429) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @05:35PM (#10610619)
    I got a Spectrum when they first appeared (aged about 13). I found it was a great machine to learn about computing - you had a Sinclair Basic interpreter as the main interface & Z80 assembler underneath. I spent many happy hours coding & hacking games on it. It & its predecessor, the ZX81, were what got me hooked on IT & software development. One of the great things was full manual it came with & fairly straightforward books you could buy detailing the full ROM disassembly!

    I wonder whether those at that age now find it as easy to learn as much about the basics of computing? How hard is it to understand the fundamentals of how the machine really works, when most teenagers probably have a PC & Windows OS to play with?
    • Yeah. I mean, a lot of people who have graduated with good degrees in Comp Sci don't actually understand what is going on internally. Arguably, it's not that important. But, just as knowing how the mechanical bits of your car works can make you a better driver, knowing how the internals of the CPU (not just a rough idea of what's inside, but actually understanding what's going on) can make you a better programmer. Even in high-level languages.
    • Since there is a java based emulator of it, (it even runs on a Sharp Zaurus) you could freely distribute the emulator and point people at the right resources for programing the Z80/1.

      It's the same concept as has been used at a lot of universities in teaching Assembly. Since a lot of professors teaching when I went to school cut their teeth on the PDP-11, guess what platform we coded in Assembly for. Did anyone have a PDP-11 to run that code on? Nope. It was nearly all run on a vax-vms system.

      A lot of inst
  • Norwich? (Score:3, Funny)

    by ollie_ob (580756) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @05:53PM (#10610683) Journal
    Norwich?

    Arrrharrrrr!!!

    </Partridge>
    • Norwich? They're probably gathered round the ZX81 gaping, pointing and threatening to burn the "man with the magic black box of lights".
  • A new issue of YS?

    And nobody even emailed me?

    Gah! I've been robbed!
  • I was pleased to find it still functioned. But there were two disappointments. (1) It's turned yellow. That plastic needs care if you want to to stay looking white. (2) It doesn't smell the same. I miss hat heady aroma of fresh new electronics. Now it smells of absolutely nothing.

  • I keep telling people that you're not a real spectrum nut unless you've got your pride and joy hanging on the office wall, with the original manuals and a signed photo of sir clive himself [tinla.com].

    The chap at the gallery claimed they don't get many computers in to be framed. I find that hard to understand...

  • In my last year at School I got caught reading Crash magazine and Sinclair User in English class a few times and my teacher said I was throwing my life away by not paying attention to O'Level English. But now, I have a job supporting over 800 Windows XP Desktops, all because of that little rubber keyed bugger. Oh hang on.. supporting XP is hell, bollocks he was right, I'm wasting my life ;) Jonathan
  • They sold 12,000 Sam Coupes? I had no idea it was so many.

    I remember I got one of the early models with the dodgy ROM and the shop I bought it from tried to charge me £25 to replace it until we complained.

    They were great machines - still played speccy 48K games, 3.5" disk drives, 256Kb RAM. The SAM BASIC was great: it had an EDIT command, for writing self-modifying BASIC programs. I wonder where I put the thing...
  • by payndz (589033) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @06:21PM (#10610815)
    Forget even the Z80 and 6502/10 computers of the Eighties - 68x00 chips must be going for pennies by now. (Hell, the 6502 is still being made!)

    Why isn't there a 'starter' computer system around any more? I went from self-taught Sinclair and C64 BASIC to minor levels of assembler on both systems before life shifted me away from computers for a while, until I came back to C++ on a Mac more than a decade later - and I think learning assembler properly would have made C++ a snap!

    But the way systems are now, there doesn't seem to be anything to get people into programming easily. Anyone could piss about in BASIC for a couple of hours and get things moving about the screen that actually respond to their inputs, but in C++ on a GUI-based machine?

    For that matter, why isn't there a BASIC interpreter built into modern machines? I mean, jeez, how fast would *that* run? 64-bits at 4Gh compared to 8-bits at 1Mh? For a program I could write myself in an afternoon for a particular job, I'd quite happily sacrifice GUI elements and go back to 'Enter value here_' options.

    Kind of makes me wonder if you could take the gameplay refinements we take for granted today and apply them to an old machine. I'd love to see a (top-down, obviously) C64 version of Crazy Taxi! Or going the other way, how about a totally real-time version of The Sentinel powered by a G5 or 4Ghz Pentium?

    • Kind of makes me wonder if you could take the gameplay refinements we take for granted today and apply them to an old machine. I'd love to see a (top-down, obviously) C64 version of Crazy Taxi! Or going the other way, how about a totally real-time version of The Sentinel powered by a G5 or 4Ghz Pentium?

      There was a Playstation and PC version of The Sentinel (called Sentinel Returns [gamespot.com]), with music by John Carpenter.

      A good friend of mine (Chris White [btinternet.com]) worked on one of the ports.
    • Geez, I wish cars were like they were 80 years ago. I mean, nobody understands how their car works anymore! I'd give anything to prime the cylinders in my car, and crank the engine over by hand! I mean, real men know exactly what their cars do, and don't leave it up to computers and such things! I mean, today's cars with their fancy keys and electric starters and brakes that actually work abstract the essence of the car away from the driver! The driver should know how their car works and why!

      Bollux to
  • Bundled with this month's RetroGamer magazine, for those of you in the U.K.

    More information and a review can be found at http://www.ysrnry.co.uk/ys94_review.htm/ [ysrnry.co.uk]
  • If you liked... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jd (1658) <.imipak. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Saturday October 23, 2004 @06:32PM (#10610862) Homepage Journal
    ...Bill Gates' 640K remark, you'll just love Sinclair's thoughts on 32-bit systems. Yes, Sir Clive Sinclair was convinced that nobody needed more than 8 bits. :) The QL used an 68008 processor, which was largely a 68010 that could only shuffle 8 bits into out out of the processor at any one time.


    Sinclair was notorious for over-hyping his products, advertising them long before they ever came to market, and aimed much more for numbers than for quality. (If he hadn't built that stupid C5, Sinclair might well today have the kind of grip Microsoft has. Clive had been inventing and marketing products from radios to metal detectors for several decades before the ZX80, so he was very well established. In the early days of home computing, he very probably had more cash on hand than Bill Gates and Paul Allen. If the QL had been true 32-bit, and he'd not gone bust over building an electric car from washing machine motors, there is every reason to believe that the industry today would be bowing to him.)


    Legend has it that one reason his computers were so cheap was that he'd buy defective parts. His argument, apparently, was that home users were never going to put industrial-sized loads onto their computers, so there was no point in buying chips up to that grade. Consumer electronics barely existed, back then, so the cheapest alternative was to buy stuff that had failed QC. The stuff would likely still work well enough for home use, you just didn't want to use those machines to control nuclear reactors.


    (Maybe that explains what happened at Chernobyl...)

    • > The QL used an 68008 processor, which was largely a 68010 that could only shuffle 8 bits into out out of the processor at any one time

      Just like the 8088 used in the original IBM PC, which (if I may quote) could only "only shuffle 8 bits into out out of the processor at any one time".

      I suspect you'll find the reason that Sinclair chose the 68008 for the QL was largely the same reason Motorola offered it - cost. It's FAR cheaper to design and manufacture boards with 8-bit buses than with 16- or 32- bi
    • Didn't Linus T. cut his teeth on the QL ?
    • Re:If you liked... (Score:3, Informative)

      by carou (88501)
      Legend has it that one reason his computers were so cheap was that he'd buy defective parts.

      More than legend...

      Pictures... [sothius.com]

      The memory chips in the secondary bank of the 48k ZX Spectrum were all faulty 64kbit chips of which either the top or bottom half had failed testing (so they were "cheap as chips" when he bought them - haha.) They were put into the Spectrum, wired up so it only accessed whichever 32kbit actually worked properly, and the defective half was just ignored.
      • They apparently did the same thing with the Tandy Color Computer for a while, during the early days of the 32K upgrade. Or at least so the rumour went [unc.edu].

        Not for very long, though; soon enough 64K chips were cheap enough that nobody bothered selling the half-bad ones.

    • I don't think that the problem with the QL was the 8 bit bus, at the time nobody was doing true 32 bit, even the IBM PC was 16. The real problems were the crappy graphics - only 4 fixed colours in hi res, the choice of the microdrive as the storage medium and the fact that it was over a year late.

      The root of the problems was that Sinclair went overboard on cheap, with the QL people wanted a $3000 computer for $800, he decided to go for $600 and in the process just made everything a bit too cheap. A real k

  • Still have the ZX81, sold the speccy to buy a BBC Model B, sold the beeb to buy a PC. Then started working on mainframes, System/36, System/38 and AS/400, RS/6000 etc etc etc. That Clive Sinclair fellow has a lot to answer for!

    Currently I have a P4 thingy and an old AS/400.

    Also, I'm building some 8bit single board machines. Z80, 6502, 8086, 6800. Good fun, though running them at 1mhz doesn;t really get anything done.
  • by carou (88501) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @07:03PM (#10611028) Homepage Journal
    the other Sinclair formats and clones include the QL, SAM Coupe, Timex/Sinclair, ZX81, Z88 etc

    Just to be pedantic, the Sam Coupé wasn't manufactured by Sinclair, nor was it exactly a clone as it had many capabilities in excess of what the Spectrum could do. Some links:

    The Sam Coupé Scrapbook [mono.org] - all-round comprehensive information

    Shameless plugging of my own site [intensity.org.uk] - mostly software rather than hardware information

    SimCoupe [simcoupe.org] - a free and legal Sam emulator for Windows, Linux, MacOS X etc.

    To anyone not involved in the scene, it probably seems very odd to be holding a show for such old computers. But I spent very nearly ten years using that old 8-bit computer, which means it lasted longer than any other computer I've bought since at many times the price, and in that time I've met a lot of people who also used it, and who have had much influence on me in various ways. Most obviously, my interest - and now my job - in programming can be traced back to the days I spent trying to squeeze every drop of performance out of the Z80 that I could possibly get (and back then, every t-state counted!)

    Obviously it's interesting to go to these shows and see what new things people can still do with the old technology. But even more than that, I'm hoping just to have another friendly chat with a few of the people I've known for about the last decade and a half.
  • "You have won tonight's star prize, the entire Norwich city council!"
  • by deadgoon42 (309575) * on Saturday October 23, 2004 @09:08PM (#10611612) Journal
    ..a Sinclair ZX-81. People said, "No, Holly, she's not for you." She's cheap, she's stupid, and she wouldn't load - well, not for me, anyway.
  • by melted (227442) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @09:52PM (#10611853) Homepage
    The best, most logical assembly language I've seen was in my Spectrum. Quite frankly I think Zilog deserves a lot more respect than it gets these days. Anyone who's programmed Z80 assembly will puke from just seeing the ugly x86 flavor.
    • The best, most logical assembly language I've seen was in my Spectrum. Quite frankly I think Zilog deserves a lot more respect than it gets these days. Anyone who's programmed Z80 assembly will puke from just seeing the ugly x86 flavor.

      In all fairness though, Zilog's instruction set was invented after the 8080 set, by a gang of people who used to work at Intel. So really, the Zilog guys had the benefit of hindsight.

      Though given that it's all just mnemonics, and the instructions behind it all are pretty m
      • They also had integer multiplication (and IIRC, division, too) which 8080 did not have.
        • They also had integer multiplication (and IIRC, division, too) which 8080 did not have.

          Not on the Z80 they didn't; the Z280 may have had it, as may the Z8000, but the Z80 certainly didn't have it.

          Multiplication you had to unroll yourself using a barrel shift routine. Or use a sum-of-squares trick with a table lookup.

          Division was effectively a long division routine. And it didn't run very fast at all (and not many people would do it in their code anyway; it was one of those avoid-at-all-costs things).

          I'
  • YS is back? Brilliant! It was total crap when it was originally in print, but in a skillo funky way that we all loved.

    My first real computer was as ZX Spectrum, I spent hours writing programs in BASIC, even learned some Z80 assembler as well. Last I check, it still works fine as well. One of these days I'll get it shipped over to me and figure out a way to run it on these funny NTSC sets they use here. I suspect Radio Shack has something to convert the signal.

  • Good old Speccy! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Uksi (68751) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @01:42AM (#10612708) Homepage
    Fond memories indeed!

    I grew up on this computer. Back in Russia, Spectrum clone kits were very popular. They were cheap, the electronics were "close enough", such that intricate timing-based video tricks didn't quite work, but everything else worked.

    I never used the real thing for more than a few minutes. Instead, I used a Russian clone called "Hobbit" (just googled this [tarunz.org]). My dad was involved in selling them, and so I got one. Apparently only 50000 were made. The great thing about this clone was the PC-style extended keyboard, which obviated the need for some of the trickiest key combos.

    Paired to a small monochrome screen, I used to write (at the tender age of 11) programs and games for it. One game that I wrote was very simple: there was a line through the screen, a person in the middle, and a car running left to right. The sole control was the spacebar: pressing it at the right time would make the person jump long enough for the car to pass under. Despite that, I remember adults playing the game for 5-10 minutes, far longer than I expected.

    Now, I was not one of the l33t assembly coders: instead, I stuck to good old onboard BASIC. One of the niftiest features it had (as far as I was concerned at the time) was the ability to define custom (USR) characters. You could define tens of 8x8 pixel chars, and then print them as normal letters. I used to sit down with a graph paper notebook, separate it into 8x8 cells, draw objects and then shade pixels. I wrote small animations, typically involving cars, little people (Lode Runner, anyone?), helicopters, parachutes, robots, and stuff exploding. The exploding was accomplished by XOR'ing X, O and other characters over the site of explosion.

    Of course, there was the BEEP command. The computer's manual (or some Spectrum-related book) came with a listing to play the funeral march. Much fun was had by shortening the durations of the notes in that march, making it sound upbeat. I tried writing some of my BEEP statement music, but I recall the results were pleasing only to me and not the family :)

    Back in Soviet Russia... oh wait, this was post-Soviet Russia, the black market was rampant and much tape copying was had. Name any game and you could pick it up for less than $1. Childhood memories include sitting in front of the TV, having cleaned the tape head with alcohol (of the rubbing kind, not vodka), hoping that the 5-minute load of this game will succeed.

    The particular version of the Hobbit that I had also included a version of the LOGO interpreter. Since all the books about logo that I had were in Russian, and the interpreter was in English, I pretty much failed to invoke all but the basic drawing commands (DRAW was translated fine by the dictionary, but most other keywords weren't).

    I probably didn't play quite the same games that most Spectrum users did. Some of the ones that I remember include "Lode Runner" (amazing), "Chuckie Egg", "Iron " (yeah!), "Commando", "Knight Lore", "Target Renegade" (boy was this one a pain in the ass to load), "Lotus Esprit Turbo", "Nebulus" (good stuff!), "Saboteur" (how many hours spent on that baby), "Chequered Flag", "Chase HQ" (oh yeah!), "Deathchase" (teh winn!11!!), "Wec Le Mans", "Crazy Cars 1" and "Crazy Cars 2" (nice!), and more that I am too tired of listing. I was not cool enough at the time to play "Elite" (required too much concentration :) ), although I did have it. "Elite" was regarded as "the game to play", from what I remember. Strangely enough, I don't think I've ever played "Jet Set Willie".

    Unfortunately, one sad day, the Hobbit blew a fuse. My dad decided to try inserting a wire for the fuse, since we couldn't find an appropriate replacement fuse. That's when I learned the meanings of "fuses don't blow for no reason" and "magic smoke."

    Recently, I bought a ZX Spectrum from UK off eBay, but the working condition wasn't clear. I still haven't tried it.
  • by scottgfx (68236) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @03:17AM (#10612932) Journal
    I remember being 10 or 11 years old in the early `80's and seeing an ad for the ZX81 in the back of a Popular Science mag. I really wanted one of those things as I had not yet used a computer or owned one. A few years later, after I had been using an Atari 800, bought a Timex-Sinclair 1000 from a kid at school who didn't want it. Even after using the Atari, I thought the TS-1000 was cool. Now, over 20 years later, I'm talking to a 18 year old kid at work. He has a TS-1000 from a yard sale and doesn't know a thing about it. Even more sad, he's not even tried to use it. There is a whole generation or more that only knows Windows and have no idea what is underneath. Yeah, the kid is a geek and knows HTML, but is afraid of the stuff underneath. How sad!

"Look! There! Evil!.. pure and simple, total evil from the Eighth Dimension!" -- Buckaroo Banzai

Working...