Long, long ago, in a laboratory far, far away, the Lord God Clive created a Machine. A Machine to rule the world. A Machine with crappy rubber keys that felt not unlike dead flesh to touch. The Sinclair Spectrum. The year was 1982. The world was changed forever.
Actually, that isn’t far from the truth. If it was not for Clive Sinclair’s genius then the home computer market today could well be very different. The Spectrum was an affordable, versatile, high-performance computer – available to everyone.
Jack of all trades
It had many uses. Word processing at home was now cheap and simple with the Speccy and a copy of Tasword. Educational titles such as those by Micro Primer allowed the Speccy to poke its nose into schools. Comms applications were available, allowing the user access to bulletin boards and Micronet, perhaps the Internet of its day. Then of course, there were the games.
The Spectrum stormed the home computer market, wiping out lesser machines like the Oric, Dragon 32 and the Genie. Only the Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC464 survived any length of time. However, although technically inferior to its rivals, the Speccy enjoyed higher sales and a loyal following. Maybe this was due to its lower price, or greater choice of software.
Whatever the reason, Sir Clive had created a monster which even in this day and age has such a huge fan base – something the C64 and CPC haven’t really got. You only have to look at the comp.sys.sinclair newsgroup to see hundreds of dedicated Spectrum fans still dribbling over the wonder machine. How many other computers are likely to have this appeal in 20 years time?
Of course, many Spectrums are now broken, lost, or completely dead. Never fear! You can still relive the exciting days of yore via emulation. If you have no idea what emulation is, then head over to my Emulation section for more information. Basically, it means you can play Spectrum games on your computer, or even on certain games consoles.
Think you’ve got what it takes to write top quality tat like this? Can’t program for the life of you? Got an idea for a completely pointless game? If you can answer “Yes, Dagnammit!” to any of these, then YOU could be the winner of the CSSCGC! To find out more, click here!
If you have a PC, I suggest you have a look at SPIN. For Mac users, try FUSE. People who still insist on using Amigas could do worse than try ZXAM, and even Game Boy Advance users can try ZXAdvance or FOON (previded they have a GBA flashcart. More information on emulators (and other Speccy stuff in general) can be found in the comp.sys.sinclair FAQ.
The Speccy came in several flavours, the quite fruity Spectrum 16K, the lime 48K (the pic below), the crunchy nut Spectrum + (my first machine) followed by the jammy 128K model. The distinctly chocolatey +2 and sprout-flavoured +2a were next, before the pinnacle of Speccy pleasure arrived: the Haagen-Daz Spectrum +3!
I’ve got a 48, +, +2 and a +3, and I love them all very much. If you’ve not got one (and if not, why not?) then look around at local car-boot sales. They usually sell for a couple of quid. Make sure they’ve got at least the power supply with them though, as they can be a bugger to get hold of.