Farewell Clive Sinclair

September 16, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
Farewell Clive Sinclair
British entrepreneur Sir Clive Sinclair, the man behind the ZX80 and ZX Spectrum home computers, has died aged 81

The ZX80 was a key part of the development of the European electronics industry. Launched in 1980, the design uses a Zilog Z80 8bit microcontroller (and the  NEC μPD780C-1 clone) running at 3.25 MHz with 1Kbyte of memory and 4Kbytes of ROM and easily available TTL logic. It was designed by Jim Westwood, who went on to become Chief Scientist at set top box company Amino Communications in Cambridge, and was manufactured by Timex in Scotland. As a kit it cost £49.95, and as an assembled home PC (without monitor) it was £79.95.

The Z80 has been a stalwart of the industry since its launch in 1974 by ex-Intel designer Federico Faggin, and Zilog was bought by IXYS in 2009 and is now part of Littelfuse.

Sinclair’s company went to make the ZX Spectrum, launched in 1982 for £125. In 1985 Sinclair separately launched the C5, an electric three wheel vehicle. The computer business however collapsed, sold in 1986 to another UK computer maker Amstrad.

After that, Sinclair Research (SRL) became a holding company for a series of ‘spin outs’, including Shaye Communications and Anamartic.

Anamartic developed wafer scale integration for memory and processors, shipping its first product in 1989.

At the same time, SRL launched Cambridge Computer Limited to make the  Z88 portable computer and flat, 60cm satellite receivers. This was one of two used for the launch of Sky Television and was followed by a more compact 45cm version.

In 1999 he was awarded the Computer Entrepreneur Award by the IEEE “for his spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, which has been a source of inspiration and guidance to the computer industry worldwide.”

An attempt in 2018 to resurrect the ZX Spectrum via crowdfunding as the Vega+ ended in legal problems and only a few hundred unit shipped.

He is survived by daughter Belinda, sons Crispin and Bartholomew, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A history of Sinclair is at web.archive.org/web/20120918025809/https://www.sincuser.f9.co.uk/051/sincbow.htm

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Picture: 
Sir Clive Sinclair, 1940-2021

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