ZX Spectrum

What an amazing little computer the Sinclair ZX Spectrum is. The successor to the famed ZX81, it built and improved on all aspects if it's predecessor. Better graphics, sound, color, more memory, a keyboard with real buttons. Albeit not a true full travel keyboard, it's 'dead flesh' rubber keys worked very well, and over the years have more than proven their worth. For me the ZX Spectrum was the natural upgrade choice. It was cheap, and having cut my teeth on the Sinclair ZX81, I already had a solid grasp of Sinclair Basic.

Although I never learnt machine code, I found that most of what I wanted to program could be done in Basic. I was especially interested in the Spectrums graphic capabilities, and spent endless hours programming in animations of fighter jets, and Daleks. I believe this computer gave me a solid grounding in some of the basic aspects of digital design that would serve me well into the future, and propel me towards a career in graphic design and art direction.

I have one funny memory of the ZX Spectrum that at the time wasn't a laughing matter, especially for my Dad, who had to fork out NZ$100+ to replace much of the machines on-board RAM. I discovered that if you touched wires randomly to the edge connector you could make the computer display cool and interesting designs on the screen. Unfortunately this fun only lasted a short while, after which point the machine would no longer worked. It's all a learning experience, and I quickly found out that doing such silly things, although producing beautiful mosaics and patterns on the screen, was an expensive endeavor.

This was unfortunately the last 8-bit computer I would own, at least until my new found passion for collecting such antiques surfaced. My next computer was an Apple Macintosh 512k that my Dad brought home from the University where he taught. This began my love affair with Apple computers that continues to this day.

I presently have two Sinclair ZX Spectrums, the original 48K model, and the later ZX Spectrum+ model with a slightly improved keyboard. A very important part of my hobby is having easy access to a library of software for all my machines, and the ZX Spectrum is no exception. I purchased a Divide which stores programs on Compact Flash card or any other IDE device. This modern drive is extremely convenient and easy to use, and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a simple storage solution for the thousands of programs available from online libraries.

RAM 16kB or 48kB versions

ROM Sinclair BASIC

Keyboard 40 key rubber

Released 1982

Price UK£125 for 16kB. UK£175 48kB



Speed 3.5MHz

Video 15 color TV RF output

Graphics 24x32 characters - 256x192

Sound 1 channel 10 octaves