It is September 16, 2021 and Sir Clive Sinclair has died at the age of 81. He was an English entrepreneur and inventor who brought low-cost home computing to the general public back in the early 1980s.
I was 10 or 11 back in 1981 when the ZX81 went on sale at the WHSmith on the high street in Oxford where I then lived. It was sold in kit form for around £50 which was unfortunately still out of my family’s league at the time. A friend had one and I remember the painful experience of copying code from a magazine to make a very basic game. The ZX81 had a pressure sensitive membrane keyboard, which didn’t always recognise what you had ‘typed’, and a massive 1KB of memory. It was the beginning of a whole new world.
Just over a year later in April 1982 the ZX Spectrum went on sale. Still too much for my family’s budget (£125 for the 16KB version or £175 for the 48KB version) but, the maths teacher at Oxford Boys owned one and members of the chess club could play on it after school. We would be huddled around the tiny screen in the maths cupboard playing Booty until he kicked us out long after he should have done (especially as we were supposed to be playing on the Chess game).
You can relive a misspent youth or experience ZX Spectrum games for the first time online with this link. Personally I will be having a game of Manic Miner and thanking Sir Clive Sinclair for the memories and experience he brought to me and to millions of other people.
R.I.P Sir Clive Sinclair