Feeds

Sinclair ZX81: 30 years old

All hail the pioneer of UK home computing

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

The ZX81 hits the high street

Like the ZX80, the new machine was offered as a £49.95 kit. But this time - and the use of a quality plastic casing suggests this was always going to be the case - it was also sold pre-assembled for £69.95. Both versions were made by Timex, which would later license the design for the US market, where the computer would debut in the States as the Timex 1000.

At such a low price - though still beyond the reach of many a computer-keen kid at the time, this reporter included - Sinclair sold truckloads. He was helped in no small part by the retailer WHSmith, which, by offering the machine in its shops, put it in the way of far more ordinary buyers than ads in early computer magazines would have done.

Sinclair Research ZX81

WHSmith had an exclusive for six months, and then other high street retailers jumped in too. Sales soared, Sinclair became a household name and even richer as his company's fortunes rocketed.

More importantly, a new consumer electronics category was born, and the UK home computer market was defined and led by UK companies. That would change, but not for a few more years. But by then thousands of schoolkids had had their first taste of computers, programming and, - crucially - games. Their hunger was not sated... ®

Thanks to the many ZX81 and Sinclair fans who provided the ad scans. Special thanks to reader David Corbett

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Leaked pics show EMBIGGENED iPhone 6 screen
Fat-fingered fanbois rejoice over Chinternet snaps
Reg man builds smart home rig, gains SUPREME CONTROL of DOMAIN – Pics
LightwaveRF and Arduino: Bright ideas for dim DIYers
WTF happened to Pac-Man?
In his thirties and still afraid of ghosts
Rounded corners? Pah! Amazon's '3D phone has eye-tracking tech'
Now THAT'S what we call a proper new feature
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
US mobile firms cave on kill switch, agree to install anti-theft code
Slow and kludgy rollout will protect corporate profits
Happy 25th birthday, Game Boy!
Monochrome handset ushered in modern mobile gaming era
Leaked photos may indicate slimmer next-generation iPad
Will iPad Air evolve into iPad Helium?
True optical zoom coming to HTC smartphone cameras
Time to ditch that heavy DSLR? Maybe in a year, year and a half
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.