back to article The first ZX Spectrum prototype laid bare... (What? It was acceptable in the '80s)

The Saints of Silicon at the Centre for Computing History have got hold of the original build of Sinclair's ZX Spectrum, courtesy of Kate and John Grant. Grant, who also worked on the guts of Sinclair's ZX80 and ZX81 (and can be heard talking about his experiences in Randy Kindig's Floppy Days podcast), donated the prototype …

  1. sammy_mac

    One of the purchases that got away still makes me wish I had the chance all over again: a ZX Spectrum with a huge set of accessories for $25. This was just over 3 decades ago in a thrift shop. As a grad student, I had to think carefully about the purchase, and I (over)thought to leave the Spectrum there. I hope someone that still treasures it made the purchase.

    1. Persona

      I wonder if you had bought it could you now plug it into a compatible display? I'm not sure if any of my TV's still support an analogue TV aerial input.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Boffin

        With a bit of tinkering

        you could break out the input to the modulator and run it into a composite-to-VGA converter.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        There's an easy fix to make 48K machines output composite instead of RF.

        128K machines output RGB and can be converted to VGA.

  2. defiler Silver badge
    Coat

    So it got delivered...

    ...faster and in better condition than a Vega+?

    Too soon?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So it got delivered...

      >So it got delivered......faster and in better condition than a Vega+?

      The Vega was just being true to the original and laughable Sinclair promise of "Please allow 28 days for delivery"

      I see from the picture and it's condition, it was eventually delivered by Amazon.

      1. Duffy Moon

        Re: So it got delivered...

        Mine took so long that my dad cancelled the order. It would be another 14 years before I had a computer of my own.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: So it got delivered...

        Note that says 28 days, not 28 months which is RCL's take on that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So it got delivered...

          Inflation...

  3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    16K

    Not that there is an awful lot one can actually do with a 16k ZX Spectrum

    I seem to recall that Jetpac was one of the few games that only needed 16k.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: 16K

      16k sounds like nothing now, but back in the day programmers were fairly wily characters. I remember having a fairly well-featured 3D maze game that ran on an unexpanded (3.5k) Vic-20

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        Re: 16K

        16k sounds like nothing now

        I remember there being a chess program that ran on the 1K ZX81.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 16K

          There were limitations though - IIRC you couldn't castle, the computer was always white and depending on what side of the tape you loaded, it either moved the king or queen's pawn first.

          Still impressive though - kids today don't know they're born!

        2. RM Myers

          Re: 16K

          I had a chess program which ran on the 1K KIM-1 from the 1977 time frame. I found the source code (hex) in a computer magazine/newsletter.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 16K

          The things youngsters today think: "Not that there is an awful lot one can actually do with a 16k ZX Spectrum." We used to know how to write efficient code, I worked in IT for a bank and I remember the engineers proudly showing me the massive (several large filing cabinets) 1mb of core memory on the mainframe that ran the entire bank.

          I wrote a "Fox & Geese" type game for the original 1k ZX80 (I built from the kit) using BASIC and sold enough to cover the cost of the device, got sales from as far afield as Iceland and S.Africa. I've still got a file of letters from grateful buyers somewhere because getting anything remotely interesting in BASIC with only 1k was to say the least "a challenge", don't forget that the screen map used most of that 1k. To my intense frustration I had one byte free and couldn't find a good use for it.

          Some better games emerged later by writing in machine code but then we got the memory expansions.

        4. tapemonkey

          Re: 16K

          There was and a line drawn 3D Defender. On the Speccy there was also Spectrum Voice Chess that somehow managed to eek out speech from an 8bit sound processor. Have had all of these machines and the one that still holds a place in my heart was the first ZX80 ordered it from an ad in the newspaper took 6 weeks to arive and when it did it came in kit form.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 16K

        16K ZX*1 - 3D Monster Maze, complete with T-Rex and also 3D Defender

    2. Joefish
      Thumb Up

      Re: 16K

      Cookie, Pssst, Tranz Am, Sir Lancelot, Deathchase? There's even a 16K Jet Set Willy knocking around.

    3. Trev 2

      Re: 16K

      I had an entire shelf of games that would run on the 16K one, although it did get a lot better when they switched to 48K admittedly. Pretty sure Hungry Horace would run on 16K.

      There was even a 3D tank game, well kindof, it was 3D but with line drawings only but for the time that was impressive. Plus everytime you blew something up it had to redraw the objects exploding ...slowly...very slowly. But we had patience back then. :)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: 16K

        "here was even a 3D tank game, well kindof, it was 3D but with line drawings"

        Yes, a BattleZone clone. which was a vector graphics arcade machine, so the line drawings where actually being faithful to the original rather than an enforced limitation of the hardware on the Speccy.

    4. Jefferybond

      Re: 16K

      Yup, and 8k of that was used by the screen and system variables!

  4. AndrueC Silver badge
    Happy

    Yeah the BASIC was a bit lethargic but I wrote a few games entirely in BASIC (a version of Snake was one, a turn based graphical exploration game (viewed from above with visual field calculated) was another. I also did a very large maze game, no monsters but it was 3D! (although to be fair that's pretty easy to do). But still if speed mattered there was always the USR function to call into some machine code. I tried to write a couple of more advanced games (Lunar Lander for one) using a mixture of assembly and BASIC but the assembly defeated me. The ratio of instruction count to work done was just too high and when it went wrong the machine froze or crashed and the frustration factor was too great.

    1. cat_mara

      Part of the reason for the lethargic BASIC was that Clive, cheap sod that he was¹, refused to give Nine Tiles the time to properly optimise the Spectrum's ROM routines for speed-- given the time & financial constraints, they basically took the ZX-81 ROM & hacked in the colour, sound, hi-res graphics, new tape loading code, etc. on top of what was already there. No mean feat on John Grant's part given the time he was given to do it in, and no disrespect to him, but no wonder the thing runs like a 3-legged dog. It was something I realised years later when I used interpreted BASICs on CP/M machines of similar vintage to the Spectrum and they were much snappier... I'd love to see what could have been done do the BASIC's performance with a bit of tweaking of the ROM code but maintaining the entry points would be tricky.

      ¹ Then he had the cheek to whine about how his computers weren't taken seriously as business machines, how they were only used for games, after it was his own relentless penny-pinching and nothing else that made them unattractive to the business market! Fucking hypocrite.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Yeah, I moved onto a CPC 6128 eventually and its BASIC was a huge step up, both in features and performance. It came close to rivalling BBC Basic for speed with optimisations such as storing the memory address of lines and variables to avoid having to look them up.

        1. cat_mara

          I had a friend with a 464 who later upgraded to a 6128. Locomotive did a good job on the CPC BASIC-- no way I was telling him that back then, though ;-) IIRC, Locomotive went on to design the operating environment for the PCW series of word processors for Amstrad which got a lot of tech journo careers off the ground, including some around here, I believe.

  5. David Lawrence

    Not much you can do.....???

    "Not that there is an awful lot one can actually do with a 16k ZX Spectrum" ???? Tongue in cheek I hope. OK I admit the larger-capacity one was better (can't remember if it was 32k or 48k) but initially there were bucketloads of programs and games that it could run. Sure it wasn't meant for business use, although things improved marginally when the Microdrive came along. I still remember buying mine, and hooking it up to the TV in the living room. Games! Colour!! Sound!! It didn't get much better at the time, unless you were rich.

    I lived in Portsmouth at the time - home of Automata, who quickly recognised the machine's potential and started producing games for it. Ah yes those were indeed the days.....

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Tongue in cheek I hope.

      Not how it read to me. It seems, like the Buffy article last week, to be an attempt to get lots of comments by saying something stupid.

      If it works expect more reader baiting.

  6. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    Just use emulation

    I know I'll get a bit of shock and horror for this, but last year I 'wasted' most of a day playing with my old 8 bit MSX, and for the most part it's not worth the effort.

    Use emulation, you won't notice the difference, and the save states will be a boon. 8 bits really are starting to look a bit creaky, although 16 bit graphics are still fluid and sufficiently fast they're not showing their age as much.

    The one exception was Boulderdash, which still plays amazingly well despite the ageing graphics. Elite is now in the category of brilliant for the time, but not standing up to modern tastes. I'd probably give a pass to the Magic Knight series too, and that's one set of games that had a special Spectrum 128 version and is best played on there.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: for the most part it's not worth the effort.

      Depends whether you like tinkering or not. For many the appeal is in getting the old hardware working not playing old games.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: for the most part it's not worth the effort.

        That's been more a PC thing for me, home computers just turned on and worked for the most part. I did have to create a cable to connect the MSX to a tape deck as I temporarily displaced the data recorder, only to find that some games of the period put the data on the wrong channel (mono channel is left, they stuck it on the right)

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Just use emulation

      Don't forget the monitor/HDMI lag you get with an emulator instead of the instant response of proper hardware on a CRT, the lag is of course is the reason why I'm no good at Manic Miner any more.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: Just use emulation

        I shouldn't ask if you were ever any good at Manic Miner, should I ? I'm not sure I ever got beyond Skylab landing bay

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just use emulation

          Don't think anybody got past that screen!

          1. Dave559 Bronze badge

            Re: Just use emulation

            6031769

            (Yes, I can still remember that number even now!)

          2. mrmond

            Re: Just use emulation

            My friends and I used to play it to death! I think we used to complete a screen a day trying to beat each other and got good enough to keep going round and round until we had enough (yes, it started over back at cavern 1 after cavern 20)

    3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Just use emulation

      The thing I loved about the old 8-bit micros was that you could understand & program everything. The manuals gave you so much detail too. I'd love to tinker with something like that nowadays.

      I still dream of building my own small machine - just for the pleasure, not because I think I can do it better than anyone else. But modern things like USB, HDMI, ethernet, etc. make that practically impossible.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: Just use emulation

        They don't make it impossible, but you find yourself questioning why you're doing it.

        Personally if I built an 8 bit micro, I'd tinker with CP/M, more useful than fiddling with a home computer. You can make HDMI 'just work' fairly easily, and USB can be exposed as serial or similar. All the CP/M (and MP/M, and others) source code is available, and the documentation is quite good.

        The issue is with Ethernet, or more specifically a half decent TCP/IP stack, which 8 bit micros weren't really designed around. There are a lot of powerful embedded controllers which talk serial at one end and TCP/IP out the other and viola, your CP/M machine is on the net!

        However, when the embedded controller is more powerful than your host box the question of 'why bother' becomes rather prominent. 8 bit micros just don't belong as an integrated part of the modern age. Sure, use them for a bit of data processing, serial, and other I/O, but that's as far as it goes.

        I loved using my Amstrad PCW; it was a perfect mixture of productivity, pricing, and usability at the time, but it could never really compete against the PC if you threw enough money at PC software.

        1. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: Just use emulation

          >The issue is with Ethernet, or more specifically a half decent TCP/IP stack, which 8 bit micros weren't really designed around.

          TCP/IP didn't really get going until the 90s, it wasn't because of a lack of a stack but the absence of a reasonably priced Internet connection. Local area networks were dominated by SMB hosted networking -- PC-NET (IBM), MS-NET (Microsoft) or Netware (Novell). Early Ethernet was also a bit of a nighmware; the triaxial hosted Ethernet proper was very expensive to work with so the most common network you'd find would be hosted oh a daisy chained coaxial or maybe phone cable.

          The most common TCP/IP stack was a knockoff of the Unix stack recompiled for a PC. It was usually a crude port sold at very high prices (and may have led to the adoption of proper open source licenses -- it was common practice for people back them to take some code they'd got hold of, change the copyright banner and claim it was their own).

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Just use emulation

        The 8-Bit Guy has just started a project to build an 8-bit computer using modern parts, but if you're a regular viewer you may be unsurprised to find out that seems set on re-inventing a Vic-20 or Commodore 64.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Just use emulation

          Hah. I'm currently building (another) processor -- not system -- from discrete HCTTL. This one's by way of being an instructional project for some of the younger guys at work, and it replicates most of an 8080 only in a lot fewer clock cycles. The system is the easy bit.

          Emulation programs such as Logisim make this kind of thing very easy these days. I should get around to doing some screen movies and dropping them onto youtube. I expect to get Ron Cain's C up and running on it.

          I can't be doing with this modern stuff, where's me pipe?, who's got me slippers? etc...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just use emulation

          The man's ignorance knows no bounds. Some of his content is utterly cringe-inducing.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Just use emulation

            If it's not 6502-based or Commodore BASIC he doesn't like it, which is odd as both 6502 assembler and Commodore BASIC are both pretty poor examples of assembly language and BASIC.

            Also, the hatchet job he just did on the ZX80/1 was rather uncalled for. Nice to see Jeff Minter put him right in the comments.

      3. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        It's also important to set expectations

        You might reasonably expect that an old 8 bit micro would be suitable for the class of applications it ran at the time, but this fails to realise that the apps might have been closely tuned for the machine.

        Adventure games, right, must be suitable for that? Not so. Just as DOOM and Quake were tuned for machines at the time, and Fortnite/whatever FPS are popular these days is a step forward, interactive fiction hasn't stood still.

        Fire up ZXZVM (Z80 Z machine for CP/M, will run on your Speccy +3 in addition to a PCW), and it'll play a lightweight but fun modern IF Z machine (Infocom) game such as Conan Kills (2005). Try the more heavyweight Curses (from 1993) and it'll work but you'll be waiting thirty seconds for responses from the parser!

        (Graham Nelson did develop it on an Archimedes, however, which is just a smidge faster than a Z80)

    4. AndrueC Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Just use emulation

      Does anyone else get that 'how the hell?' feeling when they realise that you can write a Spectrum emulator in JavaScript and it needs to be slowed down to be useable?

      I mean it can even correctly emulate the result of 'randomize usr 1331'.

      1. Mr Benny

        Re: Just use emulation

        IIRC one of them was a full hardware and Z80 emulator plus original ROM hence emulating all the wierd quirks. Questionable legally, but I doubt Alan Sugar cares enough any more to issue a cease and desist.

    5. Martin J Hooper

      Re: Just use emulation

      There is an up to date version of Elite now with all the graphical bells and whistles...

      https://www.elitedangerous.com/

  7. DJV Silver badge

    Saints of Silicon at the Centre for Computing History

    Are they related to the elders of the internet?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDbyYGrswtg

  8. Joefish
    Meh

    "Not that there is an awful lot one can actually do with a 16k ZX Spectrum".

    How dare you, sir, how very dare you!

  9. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Penny wise, pound foolish

    As for the eventual ZX Spectrum itself, it would launch in April 1982 with unfinished firmware and a BASIC ROM that could charitably be described as lethargic. A plan to ship an upgraded ROM was dropped due to the popularity of the thing, with the finished firmware shipping on peripherals, ready to take over from the Spectrum’s incomplete ROM when needed.

    It wasn't upgradable because Sinclair wanted to save pennies (of course) and soldered the ROM to the circuit board instead of pushing the boat out and using a DIP socket, and the ROM software was unfinished because Sinclair wanted to save pennies (again) and fell into a dispute with Nine Tiles. A lot of the functionality which was in the Interface 1 was originally meant to be in the Spectrum ROM.

    The closest approximation of what the ROM should have been like is here (Sea Change ROM). Over the years this turned into the Gosh Wonderful ROM.

    Of course nowadays there's interpreters for Windows other OSes like this.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: Penny wise, pound foolish

      I disagree. Spending more and driving the price up could well have pushed the Spectrum out of the range of affordability for a lot of families. It wasn't easy to persuade parents you needed a computer, the fact you could upgrade the ROM wouldn't have added any weight to the argument. An extra fiver cost might have been enough to persuade them to say no though....

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Penny wise, pound foolish

        For some reason I had this nagging doubt so I went back and looked on the net, it seems the ROM was originally socketed but the socket was dropped somewhere through issue 2.

        In an age where people updated the memory themselves and transplanted the board into a new keyboard case (I did both), I'm sure early adopters would have paid for a new BASIC ROM if it were objectively better.

        And to be honest I was jealous that the Acorn machines had the proper OS...

    2. juice Bronze badge

      Re: Penny wise, pound foolish

      That tallies with what I've heard, though I'd go a bit further and note that as far as I'm aware, the code missing from the original ROM was mostly orientated around peripherals, and I've not heard of any contemporary plans to build a new ROM with better BASIC performance - though there were no shortage of third party alternatives and "compilers" to boost the speed of your programs.

      Equally, modern "homebrew" patches have mostly revolved around fixing known bugs and adding new functionality. I dont recall anything related to BASIC performance - at this point, if youre still interested in writing stuff for ye olde Speccy, you're likely to be using assembly or some higher level toolkit.

      Otoh, I'm always happy to be pleasantly surprised!

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Penny wise, pound foolish

        OpenSE BASIC might be what you're looking for.

        No Spectrum code in it, just Nine Tiles code and new reverse-engineered code which maintains compatibility.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    there is an awful lot one can actually do with a 16k ZX Spectrum

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts96J7HhO28

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: there is an awful lot one can actually do with a 16k ZX Spectrum

      It was a long time ago, but did remember seeing some bloke has a Spectrum in his glider. He used it to record the strength of the updrafts or something as he flew about

  11. David 132 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Ah, memories.

    I grew up with a ZX81 (with a dodgy tape interface that made saving my programs difficult).

    I first encountered the Spectrum circa 1983 on a visit to friends of my parents', in Garstang, Lancashire. I spent hours in a state of gobsmacked wonder, using the CIRCLE, INK, PAPER and BORDER commands to explore the new world, feeling like Dorothy entering the technicolor Land of Oz for the first time.

    I was lucky enough to be given a Spectrum+ for - I think - Christmas 1984, at a price of 179.99 (and kids, that was a lot of money back then). So many happy memories.

    Sorry for the unfocused rambling, but this article's been kind of a madeleine moment for me.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: Ah, memories.

      It's the equivalent of about £600 now, according to the very first inflation calculator I found.

      But I think you've also hit on the proper response to the article's "Not that there is an awful lot one can actually do with a 16k ZX Spectrum" taunt: it really depends on your imagination.

      1. Dave559 Bronze badge

        Re: Ah, memories.

        A world of new imagination…

        Even the “Horizons” demo tape of sample programs, covering all bases from the “Through The Wall” Breakout game, to a simulation of fox and rabbit populations, to, umm, many other things which I have now forgotten, was enough to whet the imagination of any young teenager suddenly presented with all this potential power to program and create (not just to “consume”)…

        And that space-age sky city SF cover art of the Spectrum manual…

        And Oli Frey’s cover art for Crash magazine…

        And…

        There are many of us who owe everyone involved in the whole Spectrum scene a drink of some sort for the new worlds that it opened…

    2. Peter X

      Re: Ah, memories.

      There was no CIRCLE on those Spectrums (might've been in a Spectrum 128 or +2 or +3... I never had one of those!) which forced me to understand SIN, COS and PI. So that's good! :D

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: Ah, memories.

        You sure? I distinctly remember writing a simple program to draw circles all over the screen on my friends' rubber-key 16KB Spectrum... no Beta Basic or similar language extensions in sight.

        Maybe the amnesia of old age is creeping up on me... what's that in there? who are you? are those my feet?

      2. Jefferybond

        Re: Ah, memories.

        Yes there was a circle command. However, a bug in the ROM caused the circles to be not quite round, especially small ones!

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Ah, memories.

          Thank you (and @Dan 55 too) for reassuring me that I'm not going completely doolally!

      3. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Ah, memories.

        Spectrum had a CIRCLE from the start, although it couldn't draw them if they went off the screen. Maybe you did a version which could, or you're thinking of Acorn and having to wait for the Archimedes and BBC BASIC V to get CIRCLE?

        1. ThomH Silver badge

          Re: Ah, memories.

          If it's not straying too far, I'm pretty sure that it was in an issue of Electron User that I first saw the argument that a circle turned on its side looks like an ellipse, so if you use sin and cos to calculate points on an ellipse and join them with lines, you can do a sort-of rotating polygon. Which sparked pretty much my entire first decade of programming.

          Also, it made the centrepiece question on my maths GCSE, about equally-spaced carriages on a Ferris wheel, super easy to solve. That was lucky!

        2. Peter X

          Re: Ah, memories.

          | Spectrum had a CIRCLE from the start

          I was absolutely 110% certain there wasn't and was about to reply as much and point out that there is no CIRCLE command on the Speccy keyboard... and then I noticed that there is. It's actually terrifying how much of this I've forgotten!! :O

          Well done you! :D

    3. 5p0ng3b0b

      Re: Ah, memories.

      I remember my first hardware mod. My ZX81 and speccy would crash when my mum switched on the hoover due to poor power surge protection in the PSU. Fitting a VDR inside the plug socket fixed it and everyone at school wanted it done. Fixed the school ZX80 and other IT tasks and was awarded a BBC cassette player which anything would load from it. Used it to broadcast games over CB radio for my mates to load.

  12. caffeine addict Silver badge

    I used to know/work with Kate Grant. Never occurred to me she was involved in the tech I knew as a kid...

    *wanders off muttering "small world", "get orf moi laaaaahnd" and other random things...*

  13. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    I think what suprised me most...

    ...was the similarity in size of the wire-wrapped prototype and the finished PCB. There's not even that much wirewrap on the prototype.

    1. Martin J Hooper

      Re: I think what suprised me most...

      If you watch the video the wire wrap is mostly on the underside of the board.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I think what suprised me most...

        "If you watch the video the wire wrap is mostly on the underside of the board."

        I know, I did watch it. There's really not all that much wirewrap on the bottom considering that's an entire computer on that perfboard.

        1. caffeine addict Silver badge

          Re: I think what suprised me most...

          Then ponder just how small the board would be now...

          I mean, the RasPi is many orders of magnitude more powerful and significantly smaller.

  14. juice Bronze badge

    It's worth bearing in mind that Sinclair was a general electronics company

    The computer industry was just a lucrative cash cow which they milked to fund further developments, such as the QL, C5 and manufacturing processes.

    Then too, they pretty much invented the "Good Enough" business model with a mix of innovative hacks and the use of cheap components (which were then often pushed past their design limits): you got 90% of the features/performance for 50% of the price, but then had to deal with functional workarounds and accept a much higher risk of systemic failure.

    E.g. this article on their calculator line covers several of the hacks which they used, from repurposing a TI processor to using a plastic lens to magnify the LED display - this reduced manufacturing costs and improved battery life. And it also notes how high the failure rate was!

    http://www.vintagecalculators.com/html/sinclair_executive.html

    Unfortunately (and perhaps ironically), Moore's law worked against this business model - as the cost of components dropped, there was less of a case for using low-cost "hobbyist" quality hardware. And proprietary hardware such as the microdrive were on a road to nowhere: Sinclair simply didn't have the economies of scale to compete with the hardware used by other computer platforms (e.g. the C64 and the PC compatibles, which all used variations on the 5.25 floppy - and later, 3.5" drives), especially when government-subsidied components from Japan started to flood the market.

    The world was moving on, and as the infamous spats between Clive Sinclair and Chris Curry - plus his dismissal of Alan Sugar as a common "barrow boy" - both Sinclair the man and Sinclair the company failed to move with it.

    Still love my old Speccy, mind ;)

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: It's worth bearing in mind that Sinclair was a general electronics company

      I was never quite sure why, if they were going to get people to supply their own TVs and cassette recorders, they thought Microdrives were necessary.

      It would have been better to have made the Interface 1 hold the DOS and disk controller chip and for the user to source their own drive. Maybe Sinclair could have bought NEC drives in bulk and stuck power supplies and cases on them if he wanted an official drive.

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