**Apologies for the poor image quality compared to the other images in this section.
Released in 1982 the Sinclair ZX Spectrum (pronounced zed-x) was the second home computer released from the mind of British inventor and entrepreneur Sir Clive Sinclair who founded 'Sinclair Radionics' then later 'Sinclair Research Ltd'. The predecessor of the ZX Spectrum is the Sinclair ZX80 which was arguably the first, affordable home computer released in the United Kingdom.
The ZX Spectrum was extremely popular with both consumers and developers and competed aggressively with the BBC Microcomputer, Commodore 64 and eventually with the Amstrad CPC. The Spectrum was so successful that it's widely accepted to have kicked off the IT industry in the UK and Sir Clive Sinclair was knighted for his contribution to Britain. Interestingly enough, Sir Clive is not a big computer user himself and while his inventions and commitment kicked off a nation's technological revolution he prefers the more pedestrian approaches and personal forms of communication.
The ZX Spectrum was originally sold in two models, a 16kB and a 48kB version. Consumers who'd purchased the 16kB version could upgrade their Spectrum to the full 48kB or mail their unit back to the manufacturer to have the upgrade done for them.
The Spectrum was released in two models or 'Issues'; Issue 1 and Issue 2. They are distinguishable by the Issue 1 having light grey keys while the the Issue 2's keys are blue grey. If you're unsure the Issue version is clearly printed on the mainboard; see image five below.
One of the endearing features of the Spectrum is its tiny size. At approximately 23×14×3 cm it's one of the smallest yet fully functional home computers to sell well. A key to its small size is the lack of joystick ports which could be added using one of the licensed add-ons; the 'ZX Interface 2'.
There were a number of official hardware add-ons for the computer, the ZX Printer, ZX Interface 1, ZX Interface 2 and the ZX Microdrive but, as is often the case the third party and unlicensed add-ons offered extra and more useful features than the manufacturer's hardware. A good example is the ZX Interface 2 compared to the third party 'RAM Turbo'. The RAM Turbo looks much the same as the ZX Interface 2 but where the latter was not compatible with the 'Kempston interface' the RAM Turbo supported the Kempston and Protek standards and joysticks conforming to the 'Atari 2600 wiring standard'. Both units have a pass-through interface as they occupied the expansion port on the computer but whereas the Interface 2 only supported use of the ZX Printer, the RAM Turbo's pass-through was fully functional. See separate page on this site for details on the RAM Turbo.
The Sinclair ZX Spectrum is a great little workhorse that rightly deserves the respect it's gained. For a system with limited sound, no native joystick support and a graphics system that was designed around text rather than images it's supported with over 20,000 software titles and new software is still be created for it today. The system's limitations themselves are challenge enough to encourage enthusiastic developers to push more and more out of an aging but still extremely reliable system.
|Unit pictured has been sold and its location is unknown.|