"Sinclair ZX Spectrum Computers"

Released in 1982 by Sinclair Research, the ZX Spectrum was the first 8-bit computer that anyone could afford.

ZX Spectrum 48K

The legendary Clive Sinclair wanted to create a home computer for every family. Early models were even released as a Kit to be further affordable. The ZX-80 starter Kit was sold for as low as £79.95 (fully assembled at £99.95). The ZX80 sold about 50,000 units. The first very successful ZX Spectrum was the ZX81 which sold 500,000 units only in the first year. Later ZX Spectrum models offered the same Z80 CPU, but they were more technically advanced in other fields.

Spectrum+3 from my collection...ZX SPECTRUM AT A GLANCE

  • All ZX Spectrum models are based on the Zilog Z80 CPU
  • Richard Altwasser made the hardware design
  • Spectrum was sold as Timex in the US after Sinclair licensed the design to Timex Corporation
  • There were many Spectrum clones in Russia and Eastern Europe, these clones were re-engineered to deal with the lack of components
  • In 1986, Amstrad bought the entire line of Spectrum computers
  • The ZX Spectrum family of computers sold about 5 million units worldwide before it was officially discontinued in 1992


Related Models

128K -The advanced ZX Spectrum

Spectrum +2, Spectrum +3, and the QL at the bottom...The last ZX Spectrum manufactured by Sinclair was the 128K. The new 128K was significantly improved compared to the old ZX spectrums:

  • 128 KB of RAM, with disc commands
  • 32 KB of ROM (including improved BASIC)
  • 3-channel audio (AY-3-8912 chip)
  • RGB monitor port, RS-232 serial port, and MIDI compatibility

+2/+3 Spectrum Computers (made by Amstrad)

In 1986, the entire line of Spectrum computers was sold to Amstrad. Amstrad released the +2 and +3 Spectrum models.

  • The +2 is a 128K with a built-in cassette
  • The +3 is a 128K with a built-in 3-inch disk drive (similar to the CPC 6128)
  • The new Spectrums from Amstrad offered a spring-loaded keyboard and dual joystick ports

Sinclair QL (Quantum Leap)

Released in 1984, the Sinclair QL was a commercial failure for Sinclair. The QL is based on the Motorola 68008, offering a pre-emptive multitasking operating system.

  • Motorola 68008 CPU running at 7.5 MHz (32-bit internal data registers, but an 8-bit external data bus)
  • Pre-emptive multitasking operating system (ROM)
  • 128 KB of RAM (expandable to 640 KB)
  • Two (built-in) Microdrive tape-loop cartridge drives
  • ROM cartridge socket, 2 RS-232 ports, QLAN, expansion slot, and 2 joystick ports
  • Video modes: 256×256 pixels with 8 colors and 512×256 pixels with 4 colors
  • Bundled with an office suite (database, word processor, spreadsheet, and business graphics)


Spectrum Colors & Video Modes

  • The ZX Spectrum offered a palette of 7 colors at 2 two levels of brightness each, plus black.
  • 15 color shades, at an image resolution of 256×192 pixels

ZX Spectrum Colors


Sound Capabilities

The initial Spectrum models had no specific chipset for sound, just the beeper. Later models included the AY-3-8912 chip with a decent performance.

  • Beeper for the initial models
  • 3-channel audio (AY-3-8912 chip) for the later 128K models
  • The ZX Spectrum 128K models have MIDI circuitry


Sinclair Sales Figures

Table: Sinclair 8-bit computers (Note: in 1986, Amstrad bought the entire line of Spectrum computers)

Sinclair Sales Figures


ZX Spectrum

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