Groundbreaking computer gaming

Introduced by (Sir) Clive Sinclair in April 1982, the ZX Spectrum - named for its cutting-edge colour graphics - quickly became one of, if not the most popular home computer in the world, selling over five million units.

The Spectrum did much more for technology than just offer games, too, it made home computing affordable, or at least a possibility for regular people. Plus, because the Spectrum required a certain know-how to make it work - which was part of the fun - it also introduced a generation of children to coding, which would lead to them become some of the most influential professionals in the world. The twenty and thirty-somethings running successful technology startups in London and Silicon Valley, grew up with either the original ZX Spectrum, or one of its eight evolutions.

Spectrum Google Doodle

So significant, in fact, is the Spectrum’s contribution to the world of computing, that Google gave it a nod in a Doodle on St. George’s Day, 2012.

The ZX Spectrum is the name of the most popular incarnation of the Sinclair range, but it takes its name from earlier models of the machine.

UK's cheapest home computer

In 1980, Sinclair released the ZX80, which at the time, was by far the UK’s cheapest home computer. You could buy it as a kit for £79.95 and solder it together yourself, or get it assembled for £99.95. The ‘Z’ comes from the computer’s Z80 processor, and the ‘X’ apparently refers to “a mystery ingredient.”

A versatile home games console

There were two more versions of the Sinclair - the ZX81 and ZX82 - released before the ZX Spectrum, and that “mystery ingredient” would be key to the console’s success. In the United States, the Commodore 64, which was released just a few months after the ZX Spectrum, was selling millions of units.

The Commodore 64 would achieve success in the UK, as well, but the low price and impressive graphics of the ZX Spectrum saw it thrive, and inspire dozens of clones.

Children in the 1980s were flooded with inspiration from TV, films, books and magazines, and the ZX Spectrum gave them a chance to glimpse the future, and even interact with it.

Bear in mind, that the ZX Spectrum was introduced at a time when science, science-fiction and technology were at a peak, with the release of blockbusters such as Blade Runner, E.T The Extra-Terrestrial and The Empire Strikes Back. Children in the 1980s were flooded with inspiration from TV, films, books and magazines, and the ZX Spectrum gave them a chance to glimpse the future, and even interact with it.

Remembered with a fondness by anyone over the age of 28, the Spectrum remains one of the most iconic modern computers ever built.

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Sinclair Spectrum in the Guardian

Resurrecting an old Sinclair Spectrum

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