back to article Sir Clive Sinclair dragged into ZX Spectrum reboot battle

A fresh war of words has erupted over at ailing ZX Spectrum reboot firm Retro Computers Ltd – this time over the corporate involvement of legendary British inventor Sir Clive Sinclair himself. The latest squabble over the company boils down to a three-way shareholder fight between former MD Paul Andrews and former CTO Chris …

  1. HollyHopDrive

    Well I backed it...

    ... And I'm bored to death of the constant fighting that makes age 6 children fighting about who's dad is bigger/richer/harder look more grown up.

    I have little confidence that it will ever turn up.(though I hope I'm wrong) I just wish they keep the squabbles private and communicate with the backers properly. Either get it done or call it a day and tell everyone.

    1. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge

      Re: Well I backed it...

      While I feel sorry you've been cheated, sincerely I do as it's a horrible feeling to be fleeced by a bunch of crooks, surely this is one of the risks that all 5000 early investors would have signed up for? Any early investor in a product always faces the very real risk that the product will not appear. You're always taking that gamble that if it works, you're quids in but if it fails then you're simply out of pocket.

      You're sold an idea and your cash puts faith behind the idea and gives it credibility but nothing is guarenteed unless in the contract you signed with the startup, "You will get your initial investment back if we fail." and no one in their right mind will ever put that clause in the contract you sign with a startup.

      Of course I'm assuming you did sign a proper legally binding contract with this obvious bunch of shysters?

      1. AIBailey

        Re: Well I backed it...

        The point is that when the Vega+ was launched on IGG, it was already prototyped and tested. The money was simply tonight the device into mass production. All of the risks associated with backing "an idea" should have been mitigated.

        RCL took over half a million quid for something that was ready to manufacture and have so far produced nothing but restaurant bills and legal fees.

      2. anon01789

        Re: Well I backed it...

        fuzzywuzzys it is not a genuine intent to deprive the backers of what they paid for, there seams to be some kind of infighting, so I think 'Crooks' is a bit strong

    2. Waseem Alkurdi
      Trollface

      Re: Well I backed it...

      "Who's dad is richer?" is a deep question of philosophy and economics. In a way, the children are discussing capital ... which of the pair has the most capital, and by extension, power over the group. (/s)

  2. SeanR

    I don't have a crystal ball but...

    I sense much disappointment ahead:

    for both backers who don't receive their ZX Vega + (V2 first batch), aproximately 4450 of them to be precise.

    and backers who receive what may well be:

    a ARM A20

    a 2.5" LCD screen

    with terrible buttons.

    On the plus side, the device IS being manufactured in the UK.

    With Chinese screens.

    as yet there are no photos offered in evidence the mere existance of this "batch", nor a games list *, PEGI rating, packaging, nor advanced reviews, from credible sites.

    It's almost like they're going to try and sneak it out in limited numbers to friends and family, and hope it's enough to keep the wolves** at bay.

    We shall see.

    * due between 5pm and 6pm today. Why? There are 1000 of them, tell us about some of them.

    * indiegogo, who are poised to strike down with great vengence, if they don't meet the "end of May" deadline for delivery

    sources:

    http://retro-computers.co.uk/daily-blog/

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=mQvhIF6v84o

    1. asdf Silver badge

      Re: I don't have a crystal ball but...

      True to the original company in many ways.

      1. Mike Pellatt

        Re: I don't have a crystal ball but...

        Yes.

        When I read "....has descended into a horrible, stinking mess that sullies the Spectrum legacy" I couldn't help but think "more than it did to itself back in the day"

        Black watch, anyone ?? Just for starters.

        IC12 ? Take a Plessey IC amp, stick a heatsink on it, and uprate it from 5W to 12W. Quality engineering, that was.

  3. AMBxx Silver badge
    Angel

    Answer me this

    Why is there no crowd funding thing for a new Sinclair C5?

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Answer me this

      ...with rockets!

      1. Mycho Silver badge

        Re: Answer me this

        ... and sharks?

        1. Kane Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Answer me this

          ...and Laser Beams!

          1. Dabooka Silver badge

            Re: Answer me this

            At last, some sensible questions are being asked.

            Where's this jet powered, rocketed up, laser wielding C5+ we all demand? The people have spoken!

          2. Valerion

            Re: Answer me this

            ...and Laser Beams!

            Of the "Frikken" variety.

          3. GtBFilms

            Re: Answer me this

            "frickin' laser beams", surely?

          4. Casca

            Re: Answer me this

            ...and Hookers!

        2. davidp231

          Re: Answer me this

          *DISCLAIMER

          Shipped products may contain ill-tempered, mutated seabass due to shark shortages

        3. Wilberfarce

          Re: Answer me this

          ... and frickin' laser beams?

      2. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
        Gimp

        Re: Answer me this

        ..with a built-in iPhone X

        1. defiler Silver badge

          Re: Answer me this

          And Blackjack! And hookers!

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: Answer me this

            In fact, forget the E-bike! And the Blackjack!

    2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: Answer me this

      I'm more curious as to why in the article, El Reg used a picture of someone playing the role of Sir Clive in a television programme, rather than a picture of Sir Clive himself...

      1. Mycho Silver badge

        Re: a picture of Sir Clive himself...

        At a guess, they were afraid they might accidentally use a photo of the other Clive Sinclair.

        It's one of those things that happens.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Answer me this

        Alexander Armstrong I believe, from the BBC's "Micro Men".

        Which is well worth a watch.

      3. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Isn't it obvious...

        ... after all this is about a product that just looks simmilar to a home computer of the 1980s loved by millions who owned it or its number of clones. A product stripped of its essence and reduced to a simple gaming device.

        So it acts out certain aspects about the original, without being even close to the original, in a way just like an actor.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Answer me this

      "Answer me this - Why is there no crowd funding thing for a new Sinclair C5?"

      There is - have you seen the funding model for the Tesla.

    4. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Answer me this

      http://www.grantsinclair.com/en/e-bike.html

  4. andy gibson

    No photos

    Despite claims they have models "ready to ship" they refuse to respond to numerous requests for photos of boxes or distribution centres.

    And check out the International Shipping bit on their website:

    https://retro.business/shipping-returns/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No photos

      Have you read their privacy policy

      https://retro.business/privacy-policy/

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: No photos

        I do hope they don't sort it out before GDPR day...

  5. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    I am running out of popcorn!

    It seems this might only be settled when Indiegogo send in the debt collectors. But I am not convinced Indiegogo has the right to do that. I expect things will only get settled through the courts who will have to untangle this unholy mess and decide what rights and obligations everyone involved has.

    I think this fiasco has some time to run yet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I am running out of popcorn!

      It will go to court and become a "Jarndyce and Jarndyce" - there will be nothing left to make anything or give back to investors. We have basically crowd-funded solicitors.

  6. steelpillow Silver badge
    Joke

    the genuine Sinclair experience

    Despatch of the first batch will be claimed to have gone out on the Indiegogo deadline, although proof will be thin. When it finally arrives it will be nothing like either the Vega+ or the Vega+ V2. Connectors will be super-cheapo and unreliable bits of bent metal, while cables to plug into them will cost extra and the controls will be similarly cheap and nasty, feeling more like a dead frog on its back than anything else.

    The instruction manual supplied will tell you how to repeat Senor Galvani's experiments to make the frog twitch into pseudo-life, and will promise a galvanizer kit in the near future.*

    .

    .

    * This will be a re-badged BOFH cattle prod.

    1. Linker3000

      Re: for the cost of a tape to copy them to and delivery.

      ..Connectors will be super-cheapo and unreliable bits of bent metal, while cables to plug into them will cost extra and the controls will be similarly cheap and nasty, feeling more like a dead frog on its back than anything else.

      So pretty much true to the original design?!

    2. GIRZiM

      Re: the genuine Sinclair experience

      "cables to plug into them will cost extra and" be loose fitting, short-circuiting under the pressure each time you finally manage to pin the frog to the board.

      Hundreds of small businesses spring up across the nation, supplying everything from equally wonky bulldog clips to live frogs that may or may not survive the shock (whether due to correct functioning of the kit or short-circuiting is impossible to tell), many of which are D.O.A., however, and often missing their legs to boot.

      Despite all this, some twenty years later, the U.K. sees a surge in the biohacking sector and simultaneoulsy becomes something of a world leader in technology that electrocutes small animals by way of entertainment.

      There, ftfy ; )

  7. Dabooka Silver badge
    Stop

    Send in the baliffs

    and let's slap a big DNR on the whole thing.

    Blimey it's starting to make the Autonomy saga seem straight forward.

  8. Neil Lofts
    Thumb Down

    Another Day...

    ... another Corfield hate piece on the Vega+.

    I guess he must be mates with either Andrews or Smith.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Another Day...

      Please do elaborate on what they're doing right.

      At the moment I'd have more faith in buying one mail order from Trotters Independent Traders.

  9. wolfetone Silver badge

    "Whoever keeps Sir Clive on their side will be in control of RCL – and the £513,000 that is supposedly still in its bank account."

    We know that El Reg have been privvy to accounts for RCL recently, one wonders if this is a deliberately freudian slip of the fingers in reference to that?

    "A press release issued a week ago by Andrews and Smith stated that SRL was backing them ... Andrews and Smith insisted last week's statement about receiving support from SRL was accurate when they issued it."

    So, does that mean the statement is no longer true? Has Sinclair decided to move support to Levy or abstain?

    I think SRL are going to let RCL hit the wall. They haven't invested time or money in to this venture, why should they be bothered in what happens to the company?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > does that mean the statement is no longer true?

      No it does not. It simply means what it says. When they said SRL was backing them it is what they believed to be true at that time.

      > Has Sinclair decided to move support to Levy or abstain?

      No one knows.

    2. AIBailey

      The statement was true at the time it was issued. Less than an hour after receiving that message, RCL miraculously and entirely coincidentally announced they would start shipping this coming week. SCL then declared they would wait to see what happens regarding this before moving to oust the directors.

      So Andrews was right at the time and if RCL again fail to follow up on their promise, he presumably will be again.

  10. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    R Tape loading error then... not a nice thing to happen.

  11. BRYN

    the console was and forever will be vapour-ware.

    There maybe around 50 units in existence ass alluded to produced during trial builds. But a retail product that doesn't make. I'm so glad i decided not to back this as IndieGoGo when my figure hovered over the button.

    The whole thing is a farce of Noel Coward proportions.

  12. 89724905708169238590784I930567034974309673434677347864785234986359235564854499631385714858365926492

    Where are those new Sinclair e-bikes?

    Advertised here on El Reg at least twice with two distinct models: Magical e-bikes for which much monies were crowded together, only to come to nought. The only things those overtook were deadlines.

  13. John70

    SRL would be best to distance themselves from Levy before he totally trashes Sinclair and the SRL brand. Fully support Andrews and Smith and get rid of him.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The whole sorry mess...

    ...is as sordid as Sir Clive, with his pre-orders for electronic kits that didn't perform, re badged reject transistors with no gain, calculators that didn't calculate and broke, and a pocket television that was never ever delivered.

    Of all the products he was involved in, the ZX80/81 and spectrum were the only ones that more or less worked, apart from the later audio amplifier - the 4000 - which he canned.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The whole sorry mess...

      The TV80 was delivered. It wasn't successful, but that's a different complaint.

      The MK14, QL, and Z88 also worked. The MK14 and Z88 were both successful. The QL, not so much, but you can't have everything.

  15. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

    Spectrum of Desire 2: Pawn to Mate Knight

    b4 eN tE Ri Ng 5w 1t cH 0n P0 wE R! #grandmaster #insertcoax

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now would be mildly inconvenient for Sir Sin to kickstart the bucket.

    Aspologies (Spectrum disorder).

  17. Tom Paine Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    All I have to say is...

    ...meet me in the Rolls in five minutes.

    Micro Men <3

  18. Tom Paine Silver badge

    PS

    "console"?

    "CONSOLE"???!????

  19. Nano nano

    Sinclair QL... at least some were produced

    Whereas this one appear unlikely.

    Why not just add some GPIO buttons to a Raspberry Pi ?

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Sinclair QL... at least some were produced

      And it had a 68008 in it. If only IBM had done that with the PC we would be so much further down the IT road.

  20. Nano nano

    Build your own

    Farnell website, buy an Arm dev board, small LCD colour screen, some GPIO buttons, open source Speccy emulator. 4 weeks max.

    Not in a nest box, admittedly.

  21. Nano nano

    Build your own

    Farnell website, buy an Arm dev board, small LCD colour screen, some GPIO buttons, open source Speccy emulator. 4 weeks max.

    Not in a neat box, admittedly...

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Build your own

      Build-your-own sounds much more fun than buying a faked-up copy of something that wasn't very good in the first place and will look even poorer in the context of current technology.

      I can totally understand the desire to collect retro technology. I myself have an unfeasibly large range of 1980s calculators. But I don't understand the desire to own a copy - neither original nor up to date.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Build your own

        I think the USP of this thing is its portability. Retro fans are probably time poor so just grabbing a quick game wherever you are has its appeal.

        This is one of the reasons why the Switch is selling so well too.

        Really, if the Spectrum community could organise itself and put out 1000 properly licenced Spectrum games on a cartridge on the Switch with a donation to GOSH for those programmers that want to, and cut out this gang of clowns, the world would be a better place.

  22. tentimes

    But Sir Clive is dead

    He died last year, so how can he be involved in a tug of war?

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: But Sir Clive is dead

      What am I missing here?

    2. Barrie Shepherd

      Re: But Sir Clive is dead

      There is a Mark Twain quote that applies in relation to reports of Sir Clive's (the inventor, as opposed to the author) death.

      BTW my 1970's Cambridge calculator still works :-)

    3. Mycho Silver badge

      Re: But Sir Clive is dead

      I think that was the other Clive Sinclair. The author, not the inventor.

  23. steviebuk Silver badge

    So....

    ....soon we'll be seeing them on "Can't pay, we'll take it away". Keep an eye on Channel 5.

  24. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Just do a "PRINT USR 0" to reset all to defaults.

  25. ggm

    "descended into a horrible, stinking mess that sullies the Spectrum legacy. " -Excuse me: had you actually been alive, and bought ANYTHING during the sinclair research days, you'd know this is simply the continuance of that legacy: Amplifiers with instructions which didn't tell you to ground the op-amp and blew up on construction. Late delivery nightmares. Overstated performance claims.

    It even made 'not the nine o-clock news' -The sinclair digital penis: 1 inch high and takes 28 days to come'

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      @ggm

      I'm not so sure - I have a working MK14 and that is currently the most valuable computer I own.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      But Sinclair did eventually deliver.

      This lot look like they will deliver nothing but a load of lies and delaying tactics.

    3. SeanR

      "this is simply the continuance of that legacy"

      I guess that makes it ok...

  26. Dave 15 Silver badge

    amstrad emailer...

    Just go and get the right one of these and it apparently plays spectrum games :)

  27. tentimes

    He's dead already!

    Sir Clive Sinclair died last year - I don't see how he is coming back from the grave to get dragged into anything!

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