Sir Clive Sinclair, inventor, entrepreneur and pioneer of home computing in the UK has sadly died at the age of 81. Sir Clive Sinclair is famous to those of us who saw the ’80s thanks to his efforts in making home computing available to the masses with the ZX Spectrum.
The ZX Spectrum wasn’t his first venture into the world of electronics, having started with calculators in the early 1970s, in fact he was one of the very first to make an affordable pocket calculator. By the end of the ’70s his company was producing calculators and digital watches and even mini TVs.
His very first computer released to the masses was the ZX80. This simple computer was released in the February of 1980 and sold for less than £100, a great achievement considering the likes of Commodore selling their Commodore PET system for a price well over that affordable by most families (over £700). The following year he created the ZX81, a more powerful computer that was cheaper still. The ZX81 gained popularity across homes throughout the UK and introduced many people to a life of game development.
1982 was to bring Sir Clive Sinclair even more success with his release of the ZX Spectrum 48K computer. This iconic computer with its rubber keys and unique sound became a household name and any retro gamer worth his salt knows how important this was on the home computing scene. It was this wonderful little computer that gamers of the day (kids sitting in front of their portable black and white CRT TVs) got to enjoy the likes of Chuckie Egg, Jet Set Willy and the Horace games.
In ’84 Sinclair released the Sinclair QL, a computer designed for the executive, then shortly after released the ZX Spectrum 128, once again flew off the shelves and making it a very hard choice between people of whether to get this or the Commodore 64. This was the last Spectrum Sir Clive Sinclair released as the brand was sold off to Amstrad in 1986.
Alan Sugar Tweeted “So sad to hear about my good friend and competitor Sir Clive Sinclair. What a guy he kicked started consumer electronics in the UK with his amplifier kits then calculators, watches mini TV and of course the Sinclair ZX. Not to forget his quirky electric car. R.I.P Friend”
Another famous invention was the Sinclair C5 electric vehicle. Sadly, this battery powered electric trike failed to capture the same success as the computer and Sinclair Vehicles went into receivership before the end of that year. There was also the Sinclair TV80, a flat screen pocket TV that is absolutely brilliant to hold in your hands and an attractive thing to look at in its way, unfortunately another commercial flop.
Still, the Spectrum made a generation fall in love with home computers, the US may have had its video game crash but this went largely unfelt in the UK thanks to the likes of Sir Clive Sinclair.
Sir Clive Sinclair was a man who decided to make a computer that was affordable and enjoyable to all and he did exactly that.
Rest in peace Sir Clive, thank you for many happy memories.