Feeds

Sinclair ZX81: 30 years old

All hail the pioneer of UK home computing

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One Infographic

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

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
NEW Raspberry Pi B+, NOW with - count them - FOUR USB ports
Composite vid socket binned as GPIO sprouts new pins
Child diagnosed as allergic to iPad
Apple's fondleslab is the tablet dermatitis sufferers won't want to take
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
For Lenovo US, 8-inch Windows tablets are DEAD – long live 8-inch Windows tablets
Reports it's killing off smaller slabs are greatly exaggerated
Seventh-gen SPARC silicon will accelerate Oracle databases
Uncle Larry's mutually-optimised stack to become clearer in August
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.