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ZX Spectrum Hits 30 - Gone But Not Forgotten

Andrew Williams


ZX Spectrum
ZX Spectrum

The ZX Spectrum computer has hit its thirtieth birthday. It was released on April 23 1982, and provided the formative gaming experiences of many a reader, we'd bet.

Sinclair's ZX Spectrum was the successor to the ZX81, its low-cost predecessor. A look at its spec list is likely to make you laugh these days, but on its release back in '82, it was something of a powerhouse. A 3.5MHz processor and 48KB of RAM ran the show, but perhaps the biggest improvement was in colour. Able to render 15 different shades, it was a big step up over its monochrome predecessor.

It was designed by Richard Altwasser, Rick Dickinson and - naturally - big boss of Sinclair Research Clive Sinclair, it was relatively compact and featured a now-quaint rubber keyboard. At release, it cost £175 for the luxury 48KB version, or £125 for the 16KB version. More than five million were sold during the product's lifetime, and a number of updates were released including the high-end ZX Spectrum 128, which had 128KB of RAM. Google Doodle

Google gave the computer a nod with this ZX Spectrum-inspired doodle

Sinclair Research was acquired by Amstrad in 1986, putting the Spectrum series in the hands of Alan Sugar and co. following the 128KB version of the system. The Spectrum tale ended commercially in 1992 when the series was discontinued. Although firmly consigned to history by most, the ZX Spectrum is widely recognised as a key device in bringing home computers to the household, and for turning many a bedroom coder into an industry professional of today. And some enthusiasts are still cranking out Spectrum games to this day on the homebrew scene.

Have any memories of the good old ZX Spectrum, whether it's gaming or producing your own code? Tell us your tale in the comments.

Nik Bates

April 23, 2012, 8:32 pm

Used to have fights in the playround over which was better Spectrum or Commodore lmao happy days.


April 23, 2012, 11:09 pm

Well the C64 had more weight behind it but if you could get in close the Spectrum was great for a swift uppercut to the jaw and it could withstand the hits a lot better; the C64 would fall to pieces in no time.

Or perhaps that was just *my* playground.

I got my ZX81 in February '82; even then I was falling foul of new releases eclipsing my new kit!

Took me another four years to get a Spectrum; I'd already learned to program on the ZX81 though and now I'm a software development manager, having been a developer, architect and so forth. So the ZX81 and Spectrum got me started on the path to my current career.

Tony Walker

April 25, 2012, 5:42 am

Loved my rubber keyed Speccies (1st one failed after 3 months, 2nd took all manner of pounding for well over a year).

The keyboard was better than some of the chiclet keyboards you get on laptops these days and was perforct for playing Daley Thompson's Decathlon on as it could take the hammering.

Even the power supply survived one of our kittens chewing through the (thankfully) 9v (was it 9?) post transformer cable.

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