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Happy birthday ZX Spectrum

Warning - content contains some nostalgia.

Nice piece on the BBC  about the ZX Spectrum, brainchild of Clive Sinclair which hit the shops in 1982. Must have been around that time that I splashed out on one from the co-op in Norwich - and then upgraded it with a kit to a heady 48k of memory. Then after three weeks of further tinkering with a soldering iron I managed to get it to work again.

It was minimalist. It had rubber keys. It plugged into your telly and your cassette player. It was inspired and it was genuinely world-beating. And its graphics were stretched to the limit with fabulous games such as Horace goes skiing or Manic miner.

Seems strange now when most folk take for granted the virus-ridden PC in their front rooms, but back then the Spectrum was a cutting edge product and people loved it. In fact one of the stranger things I did in the eighties was broadcast a ZX Spectrum program I knocked together over the airwaves of BBC Radio Norfolk while my mate Vince was working on the breakfast show there. The listeners were supposed to record the thirty seconds of warbling onto their cassette decks - and then load it into their Spectrums and phone in to say what it was. And they did. And it worked.

Pete Shelley even had a ZX program as a track on his solo album - the idea was you'd have your Spectrum showing synchronised visuals as you listened to the music. Marvellous. iTunes? Pah - boring.

Nice to see Sir Clive Sinclair is still at it. I thought his latest creation the A bike looked absolutely bonkers until I saw one whizz around the roundabout near  Waterloo station. Mind you - I own a slightly bonkers folding bike myself...

I digress. Happy birthday ZX Spectrum. Were it not for you and the equally mad Sinclair QL I daresay many people would not be where they are today - myself included. Hmm.


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