Saturday, September 18, 2021

Sir Clive Sinclair

Sir Clive Sinclair died recently so I thought I'd say some things about him, not about him personally but how he influenced my life in certain ways.

I was still a kid in the early 1980s and knew little to nothing about computers so I didn't really pay attention to who Clive Sinclair was or what he did. While at school when deciding which options to study there was a newly formed lesson along with a CSE exam known as Computer Studies. I had no intention of doing it because I was more interested in Electronics but there were only a limit number of places available for the electronic course, and it was also recommended that people who studied electronics should also study Physics but I was more of a Chemistry person. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I didn't get a place in the Electronics class so did Computer Studies instead. The computers we used were a Link 380Z, a Link 480Z and a BBC Model B. I won't say I was drawn into computers and became a whizz at them because that would be a lie, I was pretty average.

Other kids in the class would talk about computers they owned, most had a ZX Spectrum, some had a Commodore 64 while one or two owned a BBC. People would banter with one another about which was best. The Commodore 64 owners would boast about memory, the ZX Spectrum owners would talk about games, and the BBC owners would act smug about owning the most expensive computer.

It wasn't until later in the 1980s that I got my first computer, a 16K ZX Spectrum. Being the 16K model meant there was less availability for games but that didn't bother me for I was more interested in programming. It was far more user-friendly than a Link or BBC computer and the manual was more than a reference manual, it actually taught the user to program. I learned far more using my Spectrum than I did at the Computer Programming class at school.

I later upgraded my 16K Spectrum with extra memory to make it 48K, then later a new keyboard to turn it into a ZX Spectrum+ It wasn't until some years later that I bought various other models of the ZX Spectrums, then a QL, and even a ZX81. My only regret is that I didn't own a ZX Spectrum+ 128K until much later long after its heyday.

Even now when I see a ZX Spectrum, particularly the original or the Spectrum+ I always get a strange fuzzy feeling inside when looking at the keyboard. I don't get that feeling when looking at the newer models made by Amstrad with their newer keyboard designs.

The original ZX Spectrum.

The ZX Spectrum+ 128K.

Magazine cover.

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