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Education United Kingdom Hardware

Sinclair ZX Spectrum 30th Anniversary 212

It's not just the TRS-80; new submitter sebt writes "ZX Spectrum, the microcomputer launched in 1982 by Sinclair Research (Cambridge, UK) turns 30 today. The launch of the machine is seen by many today as the inspiration for a generation of eager young programmers, software and game designers in the UK. The events surrounding its launch, notably Sinclair's well-known rivalry with Acorn, later helped to inspire the design of the ARM architecture and most recently the Raspberry PI (based on ARM), in an effort to reboot the idea of enthusiastic kid programmers first captured by the Spectrum and Acorn's BBC micro. Happy birthday Spec!"
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Sinclair ZX Spectrum 30th Anniversary

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  • Re:My first computer (Score:5, Informative)

    by Immostlyharmless ( 1311531 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @12:44AM (#39767757)
    My 2nd computer was a Timex Sinclair 1000. absolutely hated it compared to my first computer (a Vic-20) because you couldn't just *type* your program, every key was a shortcut for a basic command, drove me up the wall :)
  • Re:My first computer (Score:5, Informative)

    by lord_mike ( 567148 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @01:35AM (#39767929)

    The TS1000 was my first computer, too. I certainly had a love/hate relationship with that machine. I hated that it was so incredibly limited, but loved that it was mine. I didn't have to sign up for programming time anymore at the school or library. The machine was all my own whenever I wanted it even if it sucked. It was cheap and it was mine! Mine, mine, mine!! It was at least a good learning machine. There were a surprising number of programming books available, and even a decent amount of off the shelf software. The TS1000/ZX81 was certainly a brilliant example of engineering efficiency. Although it wouldn't compare to Woz's work with the Apple II, the fact that the Sinclair was able to do everything with only 4 chips was an incredible achievement.

    I always had a soft spot in my heart for Sinclair and his machines. I wish they had something like the Spectrum here in the states, but by then Commodore had initiated the price wars and it was pointless for Clive to invest in his newer machines here. I can see why they were so popular in England. They were inexpensive, easy to work with, and quite ubiquitous. While many Americans long for their Commodore 64's or Atari 800's, the Sinclair was a truly British machine made for Britons. It's understandable why that generation of users holds the Speccy near and dear to their hearts. Software is still being produced for the Spectrum, and it boasts the largest software library in the world (according to Wikipedia).

    In many ways Clive Sinclair was both the Jack Tramiel and Steve Jobs of Europe. Like Jobs, he believed in simple elegance for all his products. He was also a ruthless leader. Unlike Jobs, though, and more like Tramiel, he also believed in making his products as inexpensively as possible... cutting corners wherever he could to bring prices down. He certainly should be considered one of the great computing pioneers and given the same due reverence of his American peers. After all, he was knighted for bringing computing power to the masses.

    Nevertheless, I don't think I'd use my TS1000 to control a nuclear power plant, as Sinclair Research suggested in their advertisements. Unfortunately, my unit isn't going to be running power plants or anything else for that matter--it doesn't work at all anymore. The years of temperature changes in the attic on the cheap parts finally did that little wonder in. I still have it sitting prominently at my desk, though. It makes a great conversation piece.

    Thank you, Sir Clive, for making my first computer!

  • Re:My first computer (Score:4, Informative)

    by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @02:45AM (#39768129) Journal

    I programmed Monopoly into it, complete with color-pixel graphics, all in BASIC!

    Well, that's funny, since the TS1000/ZX81 was B/W. It had no color to speak of.

    That's what the ZX Spectrum fixed.

  • Re:My first computer (Score:5, Informative)

    by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <> on Monday April 23, 2012 @02:51AM (#39768151) Journal

    My 2nd computer was a Timex Sinclair 1000.

    Mine was the Australian equivalent, the MicroBee. They were another Z80 variant, very solidly built. The biggest draw for most of us was that the non-disk based versions had battery-backed CMOS RAM. They also had a Word Processor and other software on EPROM. I saw several Sinclair 1000s, in those days but never liked them, I think I would have gone crazy from frustration if I'd had to use one. Interestingly enough, they've started to make the MicroBees again... [].

  • by Qwrk ( 760868 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @03:46AM (#39768351)
    On the domain today there's a special doodle devoted to the ZX and St. George's Day; all in one ;-)
  • Re:My first computer (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @03:48AM (#39768365)
    Personally I think the keycodes was kind of elegant. It meant less syntax errors, simplified parsing and meant the program occupied less space in memory. The ZX Spectrum inherited the feature from the ZX81 and ZX80.

    Later ZX Spectrums from the the Spectrum 128 onwards actually allowed you to type programs manually but only in 128K mode. If you booted into 48K mode the ROM still enforced the old style. The first Spectrum 128 printed all the keycodes onto the buttons but the +2 and +3 only printed a couplemaking it enormous fun trying to figure out which button meant what. Most Spectrum owners can probably still recall the sequences for calling LOAD "", POKE and cursor keys with little trouble.

  • Re:My first computer (Score:5, Informative)

    by SigmundFloyd ( 994648 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @04:43AM (#39768541)

    the program occupied less space in memory

    Unlikely. Back then, every BASIC interpreter (certainly all of those for 8-bit home computers) used to "tokenize" commands to save costly RAM (and CPU cycles on interpretation, too). Tokenization usually meant translating every command to a 1-byte index to a lookup table. That's what is called "bytecode" nowadays.

  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Monday April 23, 2012 @05:18AM (#39768677) Journal
  • Re:My first computer (Score:5, Informative)

    by sa666_666 ( 924613 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @09:58AM (#39770397)

    What are you talking about with Vistual Basic?? The GP is correct. Most BASIC implementations from that timeframe were developed and licensed from Microsoft. Boot up a Commodore 128 and it even shows the MS copyright. In fact, there's a humourous story about Commodore/Jack Tramiel getting Microsoft Basic without any per-computer licensing fees, and as such being the only person who ever outmaneuvered Bill Gates in a business deal.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle