April 2007 marks
the 25th Anniversary of The Sinclair ZX Spectrum Home
Computer Launch in the United Kingdom.
25 Years On..
Even today programmers are still writing software
for the Sinclair Spectrum.
The speccy spawned a generation of machine code programmers
who can now be seen employed in some of the worlds
biggest software houses. Even the software publishers
can still be seen and are activly involved in consoles
such as the Playstation - i.e Codemasters.
Of course a dedicated following has
actively followed the speccy, and its presence on
the Internet was a natural progression.
www.zxspeccy.com is one such dedication to
the finest computer ever (and will ever) be built.
May all Gods watch over Sir Clive and protect his
divine presence on earth.
The Spectrum was intended to work with almost any
cassette tape player, and despite differences in audio
reproduction fidelity, the software loading process
was quite reliable; however all Spectrum users knew
and dreaded the "R Tape loading error, 0:1"
message. One common cause was the use of a cassette
copy from a tape recorder with a different head alignment
to the one being used. This could sometimes be fixed
by pressing on the top of the player during loading,
or wedging the cassette with pieces of folded paper,
to physically shift the tape into the required alignment.
A more reliable solution was to realign the head with
a small (jeweller's) screwdriver which was easily
accessible on a number of tape players.
Typical settings for loading were ¾
volume, 100% treble, 0% bass. Audio filters like loudness
and Dolby Noise Reduction had to be disabled, and
it was not recommended to use a Hi-Fi player to load
programs. There were some tape recorders built specially
for digital use, such as the Timex Computer 2010 Tape
1982 saw the launch of the more advanced colour ZX
Spectrum than its predecessor - the ZX81.. Designed
for a wide variety of home and educational applications,
it was to break all previous sales records - and remained
a market-leader ten years later. Subsequent developments
in peripherals and interfaces, including the revolutionary
ZX Microdrive storage facility - saw the ZX Spectrum
become the centre of a complete home system. The computer
range too extended with the January 1984 introduction
of the £399 Sinclair QL - then the first computer
for home and business applications to use the powerful
Motorola 68000 'chip' family as its principal processor.
Spectrum+ / +2
In 1986 the 48K Spectrum gets
a much needed solid keyboard and reset button, retailing
ZX Spectrum +2
Shortly after Amstrad's buyout of Sinclair Research
in 1986 came the ZX Spectrum +2 with an all-new keyboard,
a built-in cassette recorder (like the Amstrad CPC
464) and dual joystick ports. Production cost cutting
saw the retail price drop to £139-£149.
Aside from the tape drive, revised keyboard and casing
the +2 was essentially the same as the 128 model.
The initial version of the +2 departed
from the traditional black plastics of other Spectrum
models to favour grey. Subsequent models were in fact
based on the +3 model with the unnecessary disk circuitry
removed, easily distinguishable with the casing having
returned to black (unofficially dubbed the +2A). A
final revision purely for cost cutting saw the chip
count reduced and manufacturing relocated for the
final revision (unofficially dubbed the +2B).
The ZX Microdrive system was released in July
1983 and quickly became quite popular with the Spectrum
user base due to the low cost of the drives, however,
the actual media was very expensive for software publishers
to use for mass market releases (by a factor of 10×
compared to tape duplication). Furthermore, the cartridges
themselves acquired a reputation for unreliability,
and publishers were reluctant to QA each and every
item shipped. Hence the main use became to complement
tape releases, usually utilities and niche products
like the Tasword word processing software and the
aforementioned Trans Express.