Feeds

Sinclair ZX81: 30 years old

All hail the pioneer of UK home computing

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

The ZX80 arrives... in pieces

Launched in January 1980, the ZX80 was, once again, a DIY kit. It has a Zilog Z80A processor, 1KB of memory and used a cassette recorder for storage.

Sinclair Research ZX80

But it had a key flaw - literally. Press one of the touchpad-style keys and the display momentarily blanked, as the CPU was diverted from maintaining the display to reading the keyboard buffer. Orders had been taken so SoC had to ship the product, but before the ZX80 was officially released work had begun on its successor.

A year on from the ZX80 debut, in January 1981, the ZX81 was still in development. But then the BBC came knocking on Sinclair's door. The Corporation was looking for a cheap home computer to tie in to a series of programmes it was planning to broadcast later that year.

Having seen the success of the Apple II, Tandy TRS-80 and Commodore Pet in the US, BBC senior management believed Britons needed to be quickly awoken to the personal computer revolution. It established the BBC Computer Literacy Project. A series of programmes would show viewers the potential of computers in their business and daily lives. The machine itself would get them directly involved.

Sinclair Research ZX80

The BBC had initially selected Newbury Labs' NewBrain, announced in 1980. But Newbury failed to bid for the CLP, and the Corporation was forced to look further afield. Sinclair learned about the project and pitched the ZX80's successor. Chris Curry, now at Acorn, suggested a successor to its 1980-launched Atom.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Next page: Acorn antiques

More from The Register

next story
Ford's B-Max: Fiesta-based runaround that goes THUNK
... when you close the slidey doors, that is ...
Official: European members prefer to fondle Apple iPads
Only 7 of 50 parliamentarians plump for Samsung Galaxy S
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode
Frontier cops an epic kicking in its own forums ahead of December revival
Intel's LAME DUCK mobile chips gobbled by CASH COW
Chipzilla won't have money-losing mobe unit to kick about anymore
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.