You could say the ZX81 was its predecessor, the ZX80, done right. Both sported comparable specs, but the ZX81 was cheaper and, thanks to designer Rick Dickinson, much better looking. The vacuum-formed ZX80 looked liked someone's dad had made it. The ZX81 looked like a real computer.
Sinclair pulled 21 of the ZX80s chips into a single part, in the process cutting the cost of production sufficintly to double the Rom for a better Basic and offer the ZX81 for £30 less than its predecessor.
It was an immediate hit with hobbyists - and sales skyrocketed when newsagent chain WHSmith took the machine on. More than 350,000 were sold in the first year. Could Sinclair top it?
Check out our full history of the ZX81 here.
Price £50 (kit) £70 (pre-built)
CPU Z80A @ 3.25MHz
Developers Sinclair's Richard Altwasser, Rick Dickinson; Nine Tiles' Steve Vickers, John Grant
Sinclair ZX Spectrum
How do you follow up a hugely successful machine? You address all the complaints made about the previous one. And that's essentially what Sinclair did with the Spectrum.
The ZX81 was black and white, was slow, had only 1KB on on-board memory and lacked moving keys on its keyboard. So the Spectrum, introduced 13 months later, could do colour, came with a fully mobile keyboard (kind of), a faster CPU (just about) and more Ram.
Sure, it was more expensive, but was still well under £200 and half the price of a BBC Model B. It was compact too, and very quickly there were tons and tons of games for it. No wonder it became the UK's best-selling home micro.
Check out our full history of the ZX Spectrum here.
Price £125 (16KB) £175 (48KB)
CPU Z80A @ 3.5MHz
Memory 16KB or 48KB
Developers Sinclair's Richard Altwasser, Rick Dickinson; Nine Tiles' Steve Vickers
Left out again.
My poor Acorn Electron, not even the traditional after thought remark in the BBC roundup. Well damn you and your mode 7 we didn't need it anyway (much), and one channel of sound is enough for anyone, stereo is just showing off <sob!>. Penguin for Percy Penguin.
an excuse to link to the oric emulator I wrote from scratch (originally as something to do on my train journey to work :)
Atari 800 series ???
You missed out the one made by the makers or arcade games.
They knew how to make gaming hardware.
A sound chip that could do drum beats, and could be configured to high accuracy for pitch.
A graphics chip with a sophisticated display list (so you could scroll play fields using pointers), and superimpose 4 sprites (players) as vertical columns and missiles, represented in contiguous memory.
The players and missiles had h/w registers to indicate collissions between objects on the playfield and sprites and missiles.
That meant no programming of coordinates to detect collisions was required.
That meant the 1.79MHz 6502 could do more.
Play fort apocalypse on an atari and it was an experience. Play it on a commodore 64 and it was laggy.