back to article ZX Spectrum reboot latest: Some Vega+s arrive, Sky pulls plug, Clive drops ball

Sir Clive Sinclair's company has accused flailing ZX Spectrum reboot firm Retro Computers Ltd of trading while insolvent. Meanwhile, the firm has delivered some consoles – and been stripped of the brand rights to its flagship product. Last week some customers of Retro Computers Ltd reported on social media that they had …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

    Shame on all involved.

    1. SeanR

      Re: As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

      define "everyone". There's a bunch of names in that story, and I don't believe it applies to all of them.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

      Caveat emptor? The successful legal challenge against Indiegogos "orders" not withstanding presumably all the "customers" knew what they were getting into by using a crowdfunding site?

      I feel sorry for them - but tempered by the fact no-one can claim they didn't know what they were getting into.

    3. asdf Silver badge

      Re: As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

      Crowd funding proves not only can get you millennials to work for cheap with no benefits by calling something sharing but you can get them to pony up the venture capital as well without having to deal with pesky things like having to give out company shares for the cash.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

        Crowd funding is often successful in getting stuff made that there isn't necessarily a big enough market to sustain a product, but enough people that would want one that would not be able to get one otherwise.

        It has its place.

        1. asdf Silver badge

          Re: As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

          >It has its place.

          Perhaps but the wonderful thing about this capitalist wonderland is there are plenty of tangible easy to buy things I can find to spend my money on to entertain myself today instead of pie in the sky stuff in the future on a wing and a prayer. More power to others to spend their money how they wish but Gen Xers like me are big on money in the bank (we tend to save like our grandparents not our less responsible parents generation) or in viable sensible investments with a track record of delivering. Idealism isn't always high on the list. But sure go on change the world. YOLO.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

            Change the world? Who is claiming that?

            I've backed several things via Kickstarter and IndieGogo and in every case I've received something excellent, interesting and useful that I would not have otherwise had. By using simple diligence (it's not hard), I haven't been involved with a single failure or financial loss and in all cases I've enjoyed watching the process of getting the item to the backer over the months. Because most projects that get fully funded, actually get delivered. You only read about the failures and it creates the false impression.

            It's not a big deal and it's not a scary big nasty bogey picker that frightens genxers who were happy to blow cash on smoking, rainy holidays, and drinking shit beer for years on end whilst stinking of Brut 33 and Old Spice. That old generation that ran up debt paying through the nose for shit from the catalogue and countless K-Tel and Ronco eternal drawer-dwelling tat.

      2. Stuart Castle

        Re: As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

        Crowd funding is not all bad. I've seen some genuinely good products on various crowdfunding sites (e.g. the Pebble watches, which were bloody good). The trouble is, it's a lot easier to come up with an idea, and build a prototype than it is to manufacture something. This is the trouble Tesla are having with the Model 3, and they are experienced at manufacturing. A company may have a load of good designers and engineers, but how much manufacturing experience do they have? Even if they outsource the manufacturing (which I believe RCL have), they still need engineers who can predict the problems the factory is likely to have and come up with solutions.

        Then there are the shysters who set up a crowd funding campaign looking to vanish with the money. After all, it's relatively cheap to set up a convincing looking site, and come up with an impressive video to sell your project, and you could get away with millions..

    4. boltar Silver badge

      Re: As with all these cases, eveyone out for themselves, the customer comes last

      The phrase "A fool and his money are soon parted" proved correct once again. Hopefully some of the suckers who invested in this have learnt a valuable lesson - ie that the laws of good financial governance arn't put on hold just because the money is being raised on some trendy hipster crowd funding site.

  2. Baldrickk Silver badge

    It looks a bit... "cheap"

    As title, insert appropriate four letter word as applicable

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: It looks a bit... "cheap"

      Watching the reviews on YT only make it worse...

      Damage from build and construction, really bad control quality - stiff and with no tactile feedback, constant crashes on menu screens, paper logo under the screen cover, the list goes on...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: It looks a bit... "cheap"

        This is the most thorough review I've found so far.

        So, rather glad I decided not to go for it.

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: It looks a bit... "cheap"

      If I remember correctly, the original ZX80 not only refreshed its dynamic memory in software, but had stripes painted on the back that gave the impression of having cooling vents where none were in fact present. Compared with its family heritage, it looks positively upmarket.

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: It looks a bit... "cheap"

        The ZX80 fetches its display in software, but contains only static RAM.

        Rather than bother with all that nonsense of counters and whatever for fetching video, the processor just executes the display buffer. Well, it tries to, but the parasitic video steals the opcodes it is actually fetching and forces a NOP onwards. That gives the character code, and hijacking of the Z80's refresh cycle gives it a chance to get the actual pixels for that row of that character.

        So most of what the Z80 in a ZX80 is doing is executing NOPs.

        1. boltar Silver badge

          Re: It looks a bit... "cheap"

          "So most of what the Z80 in a ZX80 is doing is executing NOPs."

          Even for its day the ZX80 was a pretty nasty design when compared to the Apple II, TRS-80, PET or other 8 bit computers that had come out a few years before. If it had been dirt cheap that would have been fine but it wasn't, it was actually quite expensive at 100 quid assembled which is probably equivalent to 300-400 quid or more now.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: It looks a bit... "cheap"

            And what was the price of the Apple II, TRS-80, and PET?

  3. Conrad Longmore
    Coat

    German tank problem

    Did they use the German tank problem approach for the serial numbers?

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: German tank problem

      I hope so. That's a wonderful bit of maths.

  4. Herring` Silver badge

    What we need

    is someone to do a BBC Micro reboot. Then we can revive those old Z80 vs 6502 arguments that took up so many lunch breaks at school. Silly really - the 6502 was always faster.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: What we need

      Faster at the same clock rate, but slower at the C64's ~1Mhz than at the Spectrum's ~3.58Mhz, which is most of what mattered.

    2. msknight Silver badge

      Re: What we need

      Why? The originals are still going strong. I've got three of them, plus a cheese wedge co-pro, so I can play Elite Executive Edition :-)

      There was also an Arm 1 cheese wedge that went on fleabay a year or two ago, for a little over four grand.

      Mine can also read a FAT 32 USB stick and has compact flash cards that mimick winchester drives, courtesy of Retro Computers. Nip over to StarDot - https://stardot.org.uk/forums/ - for BBC goodness :-)

    3. ForthIsNotDead

      Re: What we need

      Faster at what? The Z80 had some more sophisticated instructions, such as LDIR which the 6502 doesn't have. So, if the 6502 was faster, the Z80 was certainly more memory efficient - you could do more per instruction on a Z80 than a 6502. And only putting three registers on the 6502 was just dumbfuckery of the highest order. Shame on Peddle!

      1. Herring` Silver badge

        Re: What we need

        Wow. That went better than I expected.

        Next up Shimano is better than Campag, vi is better than Emacs ....

        1. Roger Greenwood

          Re: What we need

          @Herring'

          Interested in your thoughts regarding Betamax v VHS . . . .

          1. Alan J. Wylie

            Re: What we need

            Interested in your thoughts regarding Betamax v VHS

            Video 2000

            I contracted for a while at Pye TVT in Cambridge (working on a TV video effects console for the 1986 World Cup). Pye was a subsidiary of Philips, and there was a factory shop. Lots of employees, contractors and their friends and families ended up with Video 2000 recorders. Rumour had it that e.g. Dixons allocated the cassettes equally to all shops, and the manager of the Cambridge branch spent a lot of time on the phone talking to other branches to get their spare stock sent to him.

            Getting back on topic, I also worked on the Acorn Archimedes and the Sinclair QL.

            1. ridley

              Re: What we need

              V2000 machines were the nuts.

              Go to Next program/specified time

              Perfect freeze frame

              4 hours of each side of the tape.

              Shame they were the size of a house and looked like they were hand made inside there were so many "bodge" wires between the huge numbers of daughter boards. With that many bodges they never were going to be reliable.

              Bought more than a couple off Comet(?) When they were outing them for a few quid each.

            2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: What we need

              I also worked on the Acorn Archimedes

              Fabulous machine, spoilt only by the lack of commercial games^W software. I sold my Atari ST to get one..

          2. Arthur the cat Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: What we need

            Interested in your thoughts regarding Betamax v VHS . . . .

            U-matic.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: What we need

              U-what?

            2. VictimMildew

              Re: What we need

              >> Interested in your thoughts regarding Betamax v VHS . . . .

              > U-matic.

              Hardly a domestic format.

          3. VictimMildew

            Re: What we need

            > Interested in your thoughts regarding Betamax v VHS

            Video 2000 was a superior format to both and the player came with a free hernia.

        2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: What we need

          > vi is better than Emac

          Different category: that's not even open for debate.

        3. katrinab Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: What we need

          Obviously emacs is better than vi.

          1. Michael Strorm

            Re: What we need

            > "Obviously emacs is better than vi."

            Well, it's certainly more fully-featured. About the only thing it lacks is a decent text editor...

            1. asdf Silver badge
              Mushroom

              Re: What we need

              >> "Obviously emacs is better than vi."

              >Well, it's certainly more fully-featured. About the only thing it lacks is a decent text editor...

              And who doesn't want a bunch of GNU libraries on their proper UNIX machine instead of you know just running a binary that has come with virtually every single *nix system since Reagan was inaugurated. Bring on the GNU bloat. ln -s /usr/local/bin/bash /bin/sh baby

              1. AlexGreyhead

                Re: What we need

                As a comparatively young whipper-snapper, watching these experienced folks arguing over classic architectures is to my mind a little like watching the Gods of yore having a tussle in the heavens...

              2. Stuart Moore

                Re: What we need

                It's debates like the above that make me wish I wasn't (slightly) too young to have had them in real time. More of this kind of thing!

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: What we need

                  It's debates like the above that make me wish I wasn't (slightly) too young to have had them in real time. More of this kind of thing!

                  Your generation has varieties of beard oil and North Face vs Superdry. Surely lots of scope for passionate debate there?

                  1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                    Re: What we need

                    Your generation has varieties of beard oil and North Face vs Superdry

                    And there was me thinking that beard oil was what you got when you forgot to wash it for a week or two..

                    (And no - I have no idea what the latter part of your quoted comment is..)

                    1. Mike Richards Silver badge

                      Re: What we need

                      I expect North Face and Superdry are two of those so-called popular music artistes that you might find on certain bands of the FM spectrum if you ever tune away from the Home Service.

                2. phuzz Silver badge
                  Thumb Up

                  Re: What we need

                  It's debates like the above that make me wish I wasn't (slightly) too young to have had them in real time.

                  You sound about the same age as me, and we have the old Amiga vs Atari debate, and there's still poor misguided fools who continue to support the ST.

          2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: What we need

            Obviously emacs is better than vi.

            At getting the end-user lost in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. And then getting eaten by a grue.

            Whereas vi is a supreme editor, used by support professionals. And me.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: What we need

              "Obviously emacs is better than vi."

              I used to be a big emacs/xemacs user.

              However, in the early mists of time, I once had to open a massive file (for the time) and do a global search and replace. I couldn't load this on my Sun server or my SGI Octane. My SysAdmin opened vi and managed it in just a few lines. After that - took the time to learn the vi commands. Had its uses.

        4. John Gamble

          Re: What we need

          "Wow. That went better than I expected.

          Next up Shimano is better than Campag, vi is better than Emacs ...."

          Don't be absurd. Shimano is far better than EMACS.

      2. Steve the Cynic

        Re: What we need

        And only putting three registers on the 6502 was just dumbfuckery of the highest order.

        It's my understanding that the 6502's original target market was controlling microwave ovens, for which its capabilities (notably the 256-byte machine stack) are just fine.

        But yeah, the Z-80 was a far more sophisticated processor than the 6502. If you compare it to a 6809, well, them's fightin' words...

        1. /dev/null

          Re: What we need

          It's a long time ago now, but, IIRC, one big difference between the 6502 and Z80 was that the 6502 was pipelined, but the Z80 wasn't, so even a NOP took four clock cycles on the Z80.

          1. ThomH Silver badge

            Re: What we need @/dev/null

            A NOP takes four cycles because there's no memory bandwidth to fetch anything else until four cycles later; the Z80 spent two cycles fetching the NOP opcode, then decoded and performed it during the two cycles when it was issuing a DRAM refresh. As soon as the refresh ends it can seek out the next thing. That's why it's also four cycles for all the other single-byte instructions that don't imply any other accesses to memory — register-to-register arithmetic and moves, and a few others.

      3. Woodnag

        Re: What we need

        Remember how popular the original Microchip PICs were, despite subroutines only being allowed in lower pages and memory segmentation pointer.

      4. Michael Strorm

        Re: What we need

        As far as I'm aware, for a 6502 of given clock speed, you could expect broadly equivalent performance from a Z80 clocked at double that speed or slightly more.

        In other words, the Atari 800's 1.79 MHz 6502 would have been roughtly equivalent to the Spectrum's 3.5 GHz Z80 (#), the BBC Micro's 2 MHz 6502 a little faster... and the C64's 1 MHz 6502 was still on the slow side.

        (#) Though the Atari's custom graphics hardware (including hardware scrolling, hardware sprites and multicolour character-based modes) meant that it didn't have to inefficiently use CPU cycles on certain things that the simpler Spectrum would have needed to.

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