Sinclair ZX Spectrum

The original ZX Spectrum
Full NameZX Spectrum
ManufacturerSinclair Research Ltd.
Production Period1982 - 1992 (Spectrum Series)
Units sold5 Million (excl. clones)
SpecificationsZ80A Processor @ 3,5 MHz, 16KB/48KB Memory, 256×192 resolution, RF Modulator, 3.5 mm audio in/out ports
Retail Price16KB Model: £125, 48KB Model: £175
Popular clones Timex Sinclair 2068 (USA) , db Spectrum+ (India), ATM Turbo (USSR), Spectral EPR02 (Germany)

The ZX Spectrum is an 8-bit personal home computer released in the United Kingdom in 1982 by Sinclair Research Ltd. which had only entered the home computer market shortly before in 1980. The ZX Spectrum became one of the best-selling home computers of the 1980s competing against other systems such as the Commodore 64, the Oric-1 or the Armstrad CPC. It certainly owes its success to its low retail price of £125 which made the system affordable for most of the households in its country of origin.

24k software library

The original ZX Spectrum was initially released in April 1982 and ran on a Zilog Z80 A CPU operating at 3.5 MHz. It was the first Sinclair computer which was able to put color on a screen at a resolution of 256×192. The ZX Spectrum could be hooked up to a regular TV which served as a monitor for the ZX spectrum. The computer came with a built-in RF modulator and loudspeakers and could be attached to a cassette recorder via a 3.5 mm audio in/out ports. The cassette tapes served as a storage for programs and other data. The ZX spectrum was available in two versions: one with 16K and one with 48K RAM.

The 16KB ROM of the ZX Spectrum hosted the Sinclair BASIC interpreter and the OS which allowed the user to enter code from a program listing. These could be found in any home computer magazine from the time and could be fed into the system with the help of the ZX’s famous rubber keyboard. The software library of the ZX Spectrum nearly touched 24.000 titles and amongst other things covered video games, programming language software, text and spreadsheet software and 3D-modelling.

The action-adventure game Head Over Heels: One of the most prominent games for the ZX Spectrum

ZX Spectrum: The mother of all clones

Shortly after its release Sinclair licensed the Spectrum design to other manufacturers throughout the globe. In 1983 Timex Sinclair released the “Timex Sinclair 2068 (TS2068)” on the American Market. It was based on the original ZX Spectrum but offered better sound, joystick ports and a better keyboard. Nevertheless many illegal clones were produced elsewhere in the world such as in the Soviet Union, Romania, Argentina and Brazil. Until today it is nearly impossible to estimate the total number of different Spectrum clone models produced.

A ZX spectrum clone from the Soviet Union

Re-released Sinclair ZX Spectrum

In 2014 Chris Wilkins and Paul Andrews, managing director of Retro Computers started a crowdfunding campaign for the development of a modernized version of the original ZX Spectrum called Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega. The Project has raised £155,677 until today and the first Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega have already been produced and sold.  The Vega features a micro-controller and an emulator to play almost all of the 14,000 games available. Check out their project here.

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