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Medicine Hardware Technology

Rick Dickinson, Designer of Sinclair Spectrum Home Computers, Dies (bbc.co.uk) 49

New submitter Badger Nadgers quotes a report from the BBC: Rick Dickinson, the designer of Sinclair computers, has died in the U.S. while receiving treatment for cancer. The British designer, thought to be in his 60s, worked in-house for Sinclair Research and oversaw the creation of its home computers in the 1980s. He was responsible for the boxy look of the ZX80 and ZX81 and the Bauhaus-inspired appearance of the Spectrum. Mr Dickinson also helped to develop the technologies for the UK company's touch-sensitive and rubber keyboards. He was recently linked to a crowd-funded project by Retro Computers to turn the Spectrum into a handheld computer. Some of the early reference designs for the machine were drawn up by him.
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Rick Dickinson, Designer of Sinclair Spectrum Home Computers, Dies

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  • by scottrocket ( 1065416 ) on Friday April 27, 2018 @08:05PM (#56516749) Journal
    I still have delightfully frustrating memories of building and coding for a ZX81, right after the kit came out - 129.99 for the pre-built & I was young &poor!
    • Yes, it was a game-changer. I remember the newspaper ad for the ZX-81 because my dad showed it to me. It was a full page in The Times (of London for US readers) and offered a fully functional computer for under 100 pounds! Wowza! Even at that price, I couldn't get one and had to hold out for a secondhand Video Genie, after which a few years later I graduated to a BBC Model B. As a result, I never got into the Sinclair side of things. I heard that if you zipped a ballpoint pen around each of the ZX-81 keys,

    • I was a junior in college studying physics. I was putting myself through school so I bought the kit. I dumpster dived a TV and got a tape recorder at Goodwill. I coded solutions to numerical analysis problems on it before going to the lab to punch the code onto cards.
      It lasted just under a year and I really missed it when it was gone.

      • You were a bit more ambitious than I was! I wrote some lame rocket launch simulator (fast mode), re-wrote that blobby comet game, and some sinking fund calculator to tease me about how much money I could have with reinvestment, if I had any money to begin with. Good times! : )
  • by bmimatt ( 1021295 ) on Friday April 27, 2018 @09:04PM (#56517013)
    I wrote my first lines of code on a ZX Spectrum, as a teenager. I still remember the rubber keyboard keys. This made me feel old.
    • My first coding was on ZX81, there was one in town in some technical high school...ca. 1983..When the ZX Spectrum come in later, I could only watch others having fun with it. Nostalgia...

      Apparently ebay still has ZX81 stuff
      https://www.ebay.com/p/Sinclai... [ebay.com]

      • My first coding was on ZX81, there was one in town in some technical high school...ca. 1983..When the ZX Spectrum come in later, I could only watch others having fun with it. Nostalgia...

        Apparently ebay still has ZX81 stuff

        Ditto; six ZX-81s were purchased at my high school in a rural town in Australia. It changed my life. My interest was electronics; this forces an abrupt change and now I'm living in the US and working as a principle technical consultant for Dynamics AX at a big consulting company.

        That machine literally changed the direction of my life.

        I know Rick designed the case and not the computer or BASIC. But he played a part; and for that I'm grateful towards Rick and sad at his all-to-young passing.

  • Given the notoriously well-known saying at the time that the Spectrum keyboard felt like typing on dead flesh [ifwiki.org].

  • by kbahey ( 102895 ) on Friday April 27, 2018 @09:34PM (#56517159) Homepage

    At least for me, it changed my life.

    The ZX Spectrum was my first computer ever. I used it to learn BASIC, programming, and all things computers.

    As a result, I switched careers from pharmacy to software, and never looked back ...

    Rest in peace Rick!

  • Let's be clear.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Friday April 27, 2018 @10:57PM (#56517447) Homepage Journal

    He designed the box.

  • I backed the ZX Spectrum Next on Kickstarter. Rick again designed the case, taking his ZX Spectrum 128 design and moving it forwards 35 years. It's beautiful. The case went into production last week, I believe. It's a shame he didn't live to see the project completed.

  • My first digital machine. IIRC it used cassette tape for storage. Could be wrong tho, it's been a long time..

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