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ZX Spectrum's 30th birthday -
April 23, 2012
"The ZX Spectrum is 30 years old. The successor to Sir Clive Sinclair's ZX81 - at the time the world's best selling consumer computer - it introduced colour "high resolution" graphics and sound. It also offered an extended version of Sinclair Basic, a computer language with which hundreds of thousands of users were already familiar. The thin Bauhaus-inspired design was sleeker than anything else on the market, but what was more impressive was its price: £125 for the basic model with 16 kilobytes of RAM, or £175 for the 48k model. That allowed adverts at the time to boast: "Less than half the price of its nearest competitor- and more powerful". Sir Clive believed hitting the low price points was crucial. Rival Acorn Computers had beaten him to a contract to build a tie-in computer for an educational BBC television series which started in January 1982. It seemed the best way to overcome that promotional advantage was to undercut the BBC Micro's £299/£399 charge - and the strategy worked. Titles such as Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy and Head over Heels helped drive the Spectrum's appeal It also protected the Spectrum from the higher-specced, but more expensive, Commodore 64 which was unable to dislodge Sir Clive's computers from being the UK's number one selling computer. Although some bad business decisions forced the sale of Sinclair Research's computer business to Lord Alan Sugar's Amstrad in 1986, the Spectrum remains a 1980s icon. Sir Clive was the face of the company, but credit is also due to the original ZX Spectrum's engineer, Richard Altwasser, and its industrial designer Rick Dickinson. The BBC reunited the two men about 25 years after they last spoke to discuss their work's legacy: How much of an effect did hitting Sir Clive's price target have on the design? Dickinson: Cost has always been very high on the agenda with all Sinclair products no matter how far back you go and Clive knew exactly where a product had to be priced. Literally every penny was driven...
Never owned one but a great computer, happy birthday Spectrum :-) -
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