Sir Clive Sinclair Passes Away aged 81
On the 16th September Sir Clive Sinclair passed away aged 81. He was arguably the most influential person to bring home computing on a mass scale, and when I think back has influenced me more than I realised. As a 10-ish year old I had one of the most exciting Christmas presents – a Sinclair ZX Spectrum with a whole 16KB, later on it had an internal upgrade to 48KB! Just to give you an idea of power, 1GB is 1 million KB and a current mobile phone has 64GB, that’s 64,000,000KB! I had a second issue which had blueish dark grey keys, changed from the original lighter grey key so it was easier to see the red symbols on the rubber keys. Yes, they were actually rubber but instead of being individual keys they were on a moulded ‘mat’ which sat under the front cover of the computer. The keyboard was the whole computer, no tower, no monitor, you just hooked it up to the TV! Games were on cassette tape so you had to connect a cassette player to load a game and it took between 2 and 10 minutes to load depending on it’s complexity, this is what it looked like when a game was loading and yes, it sounded like that too. My favourites were Match Day, Daley Thompson’s Decathlon, Out Run and Horace Goes Skiing, to name but a few. This is also where I had my introduction to programming but more about that further down.
The original Spectrum was launched in 1982 so to think where technology is now over a comparably short amount of time, it makes me wonder what technology will be like in the future. When the Spectrum was launched there was no internet, mobile phones were more like bricks and there were only 4 TV channels (in the UK anyway). How ever did we cope! Anyway, later I progressed on the Spectrum +3 which had a massive 128KB…and a build in floppy disk reader, which to be honest was a bit of a waste for me as there were never many games sold and to save things to it, well, that took a whole new skill level! As you can see this certainly had more of a classic keyboard look to it. In my eyes though this wasn’t really a ‘true’ Sinclair, in 1986 with creditors owed £7m the Sinclair research, merchandising and brand name were purchased for £5m by Amstrad which developed the Sinclair 128 into the ZX Spectrum +2 adding the full travel keyboard and built in cassette player. This alone made back the £5m cost in a year.
I was given a book similar to the one in the image which had games written in code, even the most simple ones were pages long. One spelling mistake and the game wouldn’t load, just like coding today but now at least there’s build in ‘auto complete’ type of technology. I would copy the book line by line onto my ZX to bring them life and learn at the same time. I absolutely loved the accomplishment of seeing all that code transform into something amazing!
Here I am 35+ years later having recently launched my own web design company and once again loving every part of designing, developing and building websites.