Feeds

Sinclair ZX81: 30 years old

All hail the pioneer of UK home computing

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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.

The essential guide to IT transformation

Next page: Acorn antiques

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?