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Sir Clive is wavering over Linux - but he hates the PC standard

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Much of UK computer guru Sir Clive Sinclair's motivation for designing a new - possibly Linux-based - class of computer stems from disgust at current PC standard. He describes PC design as clunky, prone to repeated system errors and difficult to use. "The whole things a complete mess," he says. "I'm very tempted to design a computer that cuts through all that and I might do it. But it's difficult to know exactly what to do, I was at lunch with a good friend of mine, a journalist, Chris Bidmead (Earlier boost for Bidders' ego) and we were talking about this. He introduced me to Linux - not that I know much about Linux except what he told me and what I've read since - so I was thinking perhaps that'd be the way to do it." However, Linux might not be the way forward for Sir Clive, as he went on. "But I think perhaps not. Maybe the best thing to do would be to start with a completely clean sheet and design a computer today to meet peoples' needs. Start from scratch and say to people look, this isn't a PC compatible but it'll do everything you want - give it a try. Some will, some won't," he said. The difficulty of taking on the Wintel monopoly doesn't escape Sir Clive, but he thinks he may have found a sneaky way into the marketplace. "So, that's a possibility and I'm tempted to do that... It's daunting because getting something across that is not mainstream is difficult. But then perhaps one could sell it as a utility, a tool, so that it would sort of be a back door approach. You could sell it like an organiser and people don't necessarily expect an organiser to be PC compatible. But if you made an organiser, say, which happened also to do everything, then you've sneaked in the back door and people say I don't know why I use my PC I can do everything on this and stop messing around," he said. The prospect of a brand new Sinclair machine, nearly twenty years after the ZX series, may being tears of longing and rubber-key nostalgia to the generation of UK hackers he inspired, but the project may be a long time in coming. Sir Clive also spoke of the other projects taking up his time - including a new folding bicycle and plans for a personal flying machine. ® (A longer version of this interview appears on Times Newspapers' forthcoming Millenium web site)

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