Sinclair ZX Spectrum 30th Anniversary

The ZX Spectrum is 30 years old. Sinclair ZX Spectrum 30th Anniversary is today. Happy birthday Spec. ZX Spectrum, the microcomputer launched in 1982 by Sinclair Research (Cambridge, UK) is seen by many today as the inspiration for a generation of eager young programmers, software and game designers in the UK. It has inspired many people also outside UK, including me. My first computer was Sinclair ZX spectrum. The successor to Sir Clive Sinclair’s ZX81 – at the time the world’s best selling consumer computer – it introduced colour “high resolution” graphics and sound. The design was sleeker than anything else on the market and price was good too. That allowed adverts at the time to boast: “Less than half the price of its nearest competitor- and more powerful”. ZX Spectrum’s chief designers reunited 30 years on article gives some background how this computer was created. Read also Happy 30th Birthday, Sinclair ZX Spectrum – The story of an historic micro.

250px-ZXSpectrum48k

I remember starting my ZX Spectrum computing 1983 by first playing Jetpac game that was cool game at the time (check Jet Pack remake for web browser if you want to try). I remember playing that game so much that quite shortly I broke down the keyboard because of too much playing. After some time I started programming, first with built-in Basic. Later also Assembler (the manual had the assembler commands and their coded listed on the end which was cool) and some other languages. Then I did also some hardware hacking, including installing a better keyboard and adding my own joystick interface to it (my own design compatible with Interface 2 joysticks). It 80′s was fun hacking time.

60 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ~10 euros ZX Spectrum Emulator [eng subs]
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXHBrQVTfBw

    [Update] Added 128K sound, .Z80 format, 4:3 / 16:9 aspect ratios, microSD card.

    For about 10 euros, you could have a ZX Spectrum emulator on a ESP32 based board. No need for complicated pins or soldering, just connect an VGA monitor and PS/2 keyboard.

    You will need to load the emulator software (available on a GitHub repository) and the desired games (in SNA format).

    Emulation speed has been adjusted for code in repo _after_ making of this video.

    Spectrum 48K / 128K / +2 / +3 emulation modes supported.

    Supports Wiimote (v1) controller as control method (see repository documentation and/or my previous video about Spectrum emulation on ESP32).

    We will need the Visual Studio Code development environment with the PlatformIO extension, but the steps to follow are simple.

    https://github.com/dcrespo3d/ZX-ESPectrum-Wiimote/tree/lilygo-ttgo-vga32

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The ZXBOX Sinclair ZX Spectrum Emulator Machine Fully Loaded (Rasp Pi Zero) 48k 128k 128k +3
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNs19Y-fHeo

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Restoring a mouldy ZX Spectrum micro computer from the ’80s
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QStDmy5gc5c

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ZX Spectrum Game Loader Has Joystick Pass-Through
    TZXDuino is hardware for loading software onto vintage computers, and JamHamster built a version with a joystick pass-through.
    https://www.hackster.io/news/zx-spectrum-game-loader-has-joystick-pass-through-77fb1bc13f67

    Today, you can load software onto vintage computers by playing the right audio file from a digital source, like a smartphone. TZXDuino is a dedicated hardware device for the job, and JamHamster built a version with a joystick pass-through.

    A TZXDuino is a small Arduino Nano-based device that pumps selected program audio files out to vintage computers, such as the legendary ZX Spectrum.

    https://www.hackster.io/search?q=tzxduino&i=news_articles

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    CSS Electronics’ ZX Nucleon Is an Eight-Bit Clone-of-a-Clone Designed with Russian Software in Mind
    Cloning the Pentagon, which cloned the ZX Spectrum, the ZX Nucleon runs “the best-quality software [from] the countries of the ex-USSR.”
    https://www.hackster.io/news/css-electronics-zx-nucleon-is-an-eight-bit-clone-of-a-clone-designed-with-russian-software-in-mind-0695274c412f

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    https://hackaday.com/2021/09/13/the-labor-of-love-that-is-recovering-lost-software/

    In his video, [Keith] goes to great lengths detailing the impact that Roger Dymond had on the early home computing scene. After being let go from his council apprenticeship, Roger turned his attention to developing games for the ZX81, and later the ZX Spectrum. With the help of his family, he went on to run a moderately successful mail-order games publishing venture for several years. Increasing advertising costs and a crowded development scene saw Roger’s business become nonviable by 1983, but not before developing several gambling-style games and a standout Space Invaders clone.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0JP29t1d5o

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Home computing pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair dies aged 81
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/sep/16/home-computing-pioneer-sir-clive-sinclair-dies-aged-81

    Creator of the landmark ZX Spectrum and the less commercially successful C5 died after a long illness

    Sir Clive Sinclair, the inventor and entrepreneur who was instrumental in bringing home computers to the masses, has died at the age of 81.

    His daughter, Belinda, said he died at home in London on Thursday morning after a long illness. Sinclair invented the pocket calculator but was best known for popularising the home computer, bringing it to British high-street stores at relatively affordable prices.

    Many modern-day titans of the games industry got their start on one of his ZX models. For a certain generation of gamer, the computer of choice was either the ZX Spectrum 48K or its rival, the Commodore 64.

    His first home computer, the ZX80, named after the year it appeared, revolutionised the market, although it was a far cry from today’s models. At £79.95 in kit form and £99.95 assembled, it was about one-fifth of the price of other home computers at the time. It sold 50,000, units while its successor, the ZX81, which replaced it, cost £69.95 and sold 250,000.

    In 1982, he released the ZX Spectrum 48K. Its rubber keys, strange clashing visuals and tinny sound did not prevent it being pivotal in the development of the British games industry. Much-loved games – now in colour – that inspired a generation included Jet Set Willy, Horace Goes Skiing, Chuckie Egg, Saboteur, Knight Lore and Lords of Midnight.

    Sinclair became a household name as his products flew off the shelves and was awarded a knighthood in 1983.

    The Sinclair TV80, a pocket TV, was another device, like the C5, that did not catch on, although people now regularly view programmes on their mobile phones. And although they do not look like the Sinclair C5, which later acquired cult status, electric vehicles are, of course, all the rage today.

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ferranti’s Ghost Tours The Chip Factory That Made The ULA
    https://hackaday.com/2021/09/15/ferrantis-ghost/

    Former Ferranti Electric engineer [Martin Mallinson] recently posted a 1980s documentary on YouTube (see the video below the break). It shows in some detail the semiconductor plant at Gem Mill outside of Manchester UK, as seen through the eyes of the ghost of founder Dr. Sebastian Ferranti. This dramatic device seems a little silly at times, but the documentary still provides a very interesting look at the industry at the time.

    The Gem Mill plant was one of the first semiconductor facilities, having begun operations in the 1950s by Ferranti. In 1959 they made the first European silicon diode, and went on to commercialize Uncommitted Logic Arrays (ULA) in the early 1980s. Most famously, Ferranti ULAs were used in many home computers of the day, such as the Sinclair ZX81 and ZX Spectrum, Acorn Electron, and the BBC Micro. Much of the factory tour in this documentary is depicting the ULA process, and they hint at an even more advanced technology being developed by the (unnamed) competition — an FPGA? CPLD?

    Reply

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