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ZX Spectrum

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   1982 series of home computers

   CAPTION: ZX Spectrum

   Sinclair ZX Spectrum-02b.svg
   An issue 2 1982 ZX Spectrum
   Developer Sinclair Research
   Type Home computer
   Generation 8-bit
   Release date
     * UK: 23 April 1982 (23 April 1982)^[1]
     * US: 1983 (1983)
     * ESP: 1985 (1985)^[2]

   Lifespan 1982-1992
   Introductory price -L-125 (16KB)/-L-175 (48KB),^[3] Pta44,250
   Discontinued 1992^[4]
   Units sold 5 million^[5]
   Media Compact Cassette, ZX Microdrive, 3-inch floppy disk on Spectrum
   CPU Z80A @ 3.5 MHz and equivalent
   Memory 16 KB / 48 KB / 128 KB
   (IEC: KiB)
   Predecessor ZX81
   Successor QL

   The ZX Spectrum (UK: /zEd Eks/) is an 8-bit personal home computer
   developed by Sinclair Research. It was first released in the United
   Kingdom on 23 April 1982 and went on to become Britain's best-selling

   Referred to during development as the ZX81 Colour and ZX82, it was
   launched as the ZX Spectrum to highlight the machine's colour display,
   compared with the black and white display of its predecessor, the ZX81.
   The Spectrum was released as eight different models, ranging from the
   entry level with 16 KB RAM released in 1982 to the ZX Spectrum +3 with
   128 KB RAM and built in floppy disk drive in 1987; altogether they sold
   over 5 million units worldwide (not counting unofficial clones).

   The Spectrum was among the first home computers in the United Kingdom
   aimed at a mainstream audience, similar in significance to the
   Commodore 64 in the US or the MO5 in France. The introduction of the ZX
   Spectrum led to a boom in companies producing software and hardware for
   the machine,^[7] the effects of which are still seen. Some credit it as
   the machine which launched the British information technology
   industry.^[8] Licensing deals and clones followed, earning Clive
   Sinclair a knighthood for services to British industry.^[9]

   The Commodore 64, Dragon 32, Oric-1, Oric Atmos, BBC Micro and later
   the Amstrad CPC range were rivals to the Spectrum in the UK market
   during the early 1980s. The machine was officially discontinued in
   [ ]


     * 1 Hardware
     * 2 Firmware
     * 3 Sinclair Research models
          + 3.1 Pre-production designs
          + 3.2 ZX Spectrum 16K/48K
          + 3.3 ZX Spectrum+
          + 3.4 ZX Spectrum 128
     * 4 Amstrad models
          + 4.1 ZX Spectrum +2
          + 4.2 ZX Spectrum +2A
          + 4.3 ZX Spectrum +3
          + 4.4 ZX Spectrum +2B and +3B
     * 5 Clones and re-creations
          + 5.1 Official clones
          + 5.2 Unofficial clones
          + 5.3 Recreations
     * 6 Peripherals
     * 7 Software
          + 7.1 Distribution
          + 7.2 Copying and backup
          + 7.3 Community
          + 7.4 Notable developers
     * 8 Reception
     * 9 Legacy
     * 10 See also
     * 11 Notes
     * 12 References
     * 13 External links


   ZX Spectrum 48K motherboard (Issue 3B: 1983, heat sink removed)

   The Spectrum is based on a Zilog Z80, a CPU running at 3.5 MHz (or NEC
   D780C-1 clone). The original model has 16 KB (16 *1024 bytes) of ROM
   and either 16 KB or 48 KB of RAM. Hardware design was by Richard
   Altwasser of Sinclair Research, and the outward appearance was designed
   by Sinclair's industrial designer Rick Dickinson.^[7]

   Video output is through an RF modulator and was designed for use with
   contemporary television sets, for a simple colour graphic display. Text
   can be displayed using 32 columns * 24 rows of characters from the ZX
   Spectrum character set or from a set provided within an application,
   from a palette of 15 shades: seven colours at two levels of brightness
   each, plus black.^[10] The image resolution is 256 *192 with the same
   colour limitations.^[11] To conserve memory, colour is stored separate
   from the pixel bitmap in a low resolution, 32 *24 grid overlay,
   corresponding to the character cells. In practice, this means that all
   pixels of an 8x8 character block share one foreground colour and one
   background colour. Altwasser received a patent for this design.^[12]

   An "attribute" consists of a foreground and a background colour, a
   brightness level (normal or bright) and a flashing "flag" which, when
   set, causes the two colours to swap at regular intervals.^[11] This
   scheme leads to what was dubbed colour clash or attribute clash, where
   a desired colour of a specific pixel could not necessarily be selected.
   This became a distinctive feature of the Spectrum, meaning programs,
   particularly games, had to be designed around this limitation. Other
   machines available around the same time, for example the Amstrad CPC or
   the Commodore 64, did not suffer from this limitation. The Commodore 64
   used colour attributes in a similar way, but a special multicolour mode
   and hardware sprites were used to avoid attribute clash.^[13]

   Sound output is through a beeper on the machine itself, capable of
   producing one channel with 10 octaves. Software was later available
   that could play two channel sound. The machine includes an expansion
   bus edge connector and 3.5 mm audio in/out ports for the connection of
   a cassette recorder for loading and saving programs and data. The "ear"
   port has a higher output than the "mic" and is recommended for
   headphones, with "mic" for attaching to other audio devices as line

   The machine was manufactured in Dundee, Scotland, in the now closed
   Timex factory.^[15]


   The machine's Sinclair BASIC interpreter is stored in ROM (along with
   fundamental system-routines) and was written by Steve Vickers on
   contract from Nine Tiles Ltd. The Spectrum's chiclet keyboard (on top
   of a membrane, similar to calculator keys) is marked with BASIC
   keywords. For example, pressing "G" when in programming mode would
   insert the BASIC command GO TO.^[16]

   The BASIC interpreter was developed from that used on the ZX81 and a
   ZX81 BASIC program can be typed into a Spectrum largely unmodified, but
   Spectrum BASIC included many extra features making it easier to use.
   The ZX Spectrum character set was expanded from that of the ZX81, which
   did not feature lower-case letters. Spectrum BASIC included extra
   keywords for the more advanced display and sound, and supported
   multi-statement lines. The cassette interface was much more advanced,
   saving and loading around five times faster than the ZX81 (1500 bits
   per second compared to 307),^[17] and unlike the ZX81, the Spectrum
   could maintain the TV display during tape storage and retrieval
   operations. As well as being able to save programs, the Spectrum could
   save the contents of arrays, the contents of the screen memory, and the
   contents of any defined range of memory addresses.^[18]

Sinclair Research models[edit]

Pre-production designs[edit]

   Rick Dickinson came up with a number of designs for the "ZX82" project
   before the final ZX Spectrum design. A number of the keyboard legends
   changed during the design phase including ARC becoming CIRCLE, FORE
   becoming INK and BACK becoming PAPER. The Spectrum reused a number of
   design elements of the ZX81: The ROM code for things such as floating
   point calculations and expression parsing were very similar (with a few
   obsolete ZX81 routines left in the Spectrum ROM). The simple keyboard
   decoding and cassette interfaces were nearly identical (although the
   latter was now programmed to load/save at a higher speed). The central
   ULA integrated circuit was somewhat similar although it implemented the
   major enhancement over the ZX81: A (fully) hardware based television
   raster generator (with colour) that indirectly gave the new machine
   approximately four times as much processing power as the ZX81, simply
   due to the Z80 now being released from this video generation task. A
   bug in the ULA as originally designed meant that the keyboard did not
   always scan correctly, and was rectified by a "dead cockroach" (a small
   circuit board mounted upside down next to the CPU) for Issue 1 ZX

ZX Spectrum 16K/48K[edit]

   ZX Spectrum 16K/48K (Dimensions (mm): 233 *144 *30 (W *H *D) @ ~=552

   The original ZX Spectrum is remembered for its rubber chiclet keyboard,
   diminutive size and distinctive rainbow motif. It was originally
   released on 23 April 1982^[21] with 16 KB of RAM for -L-125 (equivalent
   to -L-469 in 2021) or with 48 KB for -L-175 (equivalent to -L-657 in
   2021);^[22] these prices were reduced to -L-99 (equivalent to -L-355 in
   2021) and -L-129 (equivalent to -L-463 in 2021) respectively in
   1983.^[23] Owners of the 16 KB model could purchase an internal 32 KB
   RAM upgrade, which for early "Issue 1" machines consisted of a
   daughterboard. Later issue machines required the fitting of 8 dynamic
   RAM chips and a few TTL chips. Users could mail their 16K Spectrums to
   Sinclair to be upgraded to 48 KB versions. Later revisions contained
   64 KB of memory but were configured such that only 48 KB were
   usable.^[24] External 32 KB RAM packs that mounted in the rear
   expansion slot were available from third parties. Both machines had
   16 KB of onboard ROM.

   An "Issue 1" ZX Spectrum can be distinguished from later models by the
   colour of the keys - light grey for Issue 1, blue-grey for later
   machines.^[25] Although the official service manual states that
   approximately 26,000 of these original boards were manufactured,^[26]
   subsequent serial number analysis shows that only 16,000 were produced,
   almost all of which fell in the serial number range 001-000001 to
   001-016000.^[27] An online tool now exists to allow users to ascertain
   the likely issue number of their ZX Spectrum by inputting the serial

   The Sinclair models featured audio line in and out, in the form of an
   "ear" and "mic" socket. An external tape recorder was needed to load
   the majority of software released, or the ZX Microdrive. Either socket
   could be connected to headphones or an amplifier as an audio output,
   although this would not disable the internal speaker.

   The original ZX Spectrum model experienced numerous changes to its
   motherboard design; mainly to improve manufacturing efficiencies, but
   also to correct bugs from previous boards. Another issue was with the
   Spectrum's power supply. In March 1983,^[29] Sinclair issued an
   "URGENT" recall warning for all owners of models bought after 1 January
   1983. Plugs with a plain (rather than textured) surface were at risk of
   causing shock, and were asked to be sent back to Sinclair's office in
   Broad Lane, Cottenham. It's not known how many power supplies were
   returned, and how many still exist in the wild.^[original research?]

ZX Spectrum+[edit]

   ZX Spectrum+ (Dimensions (mm): 319 *149 *38 (W *H *D))^[20]

   Planning of the ZX Spectrum+ started in June 1984,^[30] and was
   released on October 15.^[31]^[32] This 48 KB Spectrum (development
   code-name TB^[30]) introduced a new QL-style case with an
   injection-moulded keyboard and a reset button that was basically a
   switch that shorted across the CPU reset capacitor. Electronically, it
   was identical to the previous 48 KB model. It was possible to change
   the system boards between the original case and the Spectrum+ case. It
   retailed for -L-179.95 (equivalent to -L-615 in 2021).^[33] A DIY
   conversion-kit for older machines was available. Early on, the machine
   outsold the rubber-key model 2:1;^[30] however, some retailers reported
   a failure rate of up to 30%, compared with a more usual 5-6% for the
   older model.^[32] In early 1985, the original Spectrum was officially
   discontinued and the ZX Spectrum+ was reduced in price to -L-129.95
   (equivalent to -L-419 in 2021).^[34]

ZX Spectrum 128[edit]

   ZX Spectrum 128

   In 1985, Sinclair developed the ZX Spectrum 128 (code-named Derby) in
   conjunction with their Spanish distributor Investronica (a subsidiary
   of El Corte Ingles department store group).^[35] Investronica had
   helped adapt the ZX Spectrum+ to the Spanish market after the Spanish
   government introduced a special tax on all computers with 64 KB RAM or
   less,^[36] and a law which obliged all computers sold in Spain to
   support the Spanish alphabet and show messages in Spanish.^[37]

   The appearance of the ZX Spectrum 128 was similar to the ZX Spectrum+,
   with the exception of a large external heatsink for the internal 7805
   voltage regulator added to the right hand end of the case, replacing
   the internal heatsink in previous versions. This external heatsink led
   to the system's nickname, "The Toast Rack".^[38]

   New features included 128 KB RAM with RAM disc commands 'save !"name"',
   three-channel audio via the AY-3-8912 chip, MIDI compatibility, an
   RS-232 serial port, an RGB monitor port, 32 KB of ROM including an
   improved BASIC editor, and an external keypad.

   The machine was simultaneously presented for the first time and
   launched in September 1985 at the SIMO '85 trade show in Spain, with a
   price of 44,250 pesetas. Because of the large number of unsold
   Spectrum+ models, Sinclair decided not to start selling in the UK until
   January 1986 at a price of -L-179.95 (equivalent to -L-561 in
   2021).^[39] No external keypad was available for the UK release,
   although the ROM routines to use it and the port itself remained.

   The Z80 processor used in the Spectrum has a 16-bit address bus, which
   means only 64 KB of memory can be directly addressed. To facilitate the
   extra 80 KB of RAM the designers used bank switching so the new memory
   would be available as eight pages of 16 KB at the top of the address
   space. The same technique was used to page between the new 16 KB editor
   ROM and the original 16 KB BASIC ROM at the bottom of the address

   The new sound chip and MIDI out abilities were exposed to the BASIC
   programming language with the command PLAY and a new command SPECTRUM
   was added to switch the machine into 48K mode, keeping the current
   BASIC program intact (although there is no command to switch back to
   128K mode). To enable BASIC programmers to access the additional
   memory, a RAM disk was created where files could be stored in the
   additional 80 KB of RAM. The new commands took the place of two
   existing user-defined-character spaces causing compatibility problems
   with certain BASIC programs.^[41]

   The ZX Spectrum 128 had no internal speaker, unlike its predecessors.
   Sound was produced from the television speaker instead.^[42]

   The Spanish version had the "128K" logo in white; the British one had
   the same logo in red.

Amstrad models[edit]

ZX Spectrum +2[edit]

   ZX Spectrum +2

   The ZX Spectrum +2 was Amstrad's first Spectrum, coming shortly after
   their purchase of the Spectrum range and "Sinclair" brand in 1986. The
   machine featured an all-new grey case featuring a spring-loaded
   keyboard, dual joystick ports, and a built-in cassette recorder dubbed
   the "Datacorder" (like the Amstrad CPC 464), but was in most respects
   identical to the ZX Spectrum 128. The main menu screen lacked the
   Spectrum 128's "Tape Test" option, and the ROM was altered to account
   for a new 1986 Amstrad copyright message. Production costs had been
   reduced and the retail price dropped to -L-139--L-149.^[43]

   The new keyboard did not include the BASIC keyword markings that were
   found on earlier Spectrums, except for the keywords LOAD, CODE and RUN
   which were useful for loading software. Instead, the +2 boasted a menu
   system, almost identical to the ZX Spectrum 128, where one could switch
   between 48K BASIC programming with the keywords, and 128K BASIC
   programming in which all words (keywords and otherwise) must be typed
   out in full (although the keywords are still stored internally as one
   character each). Despite these changes, the layout remained identical
   to that of the 128.^[44]

   The ZX Spectrum +2 power supply was a grey version of the ZX Spectrum+
   and 128 power supply.^[45]

ZX Spectrum +2A[edit]

   ZX Spectrum +2A

   The ZX Spectrum +2A was a variant of the Spectrum +3, also released in
   1987, and housed inside a black case. The Spectrum +2A/+3 motherboard
   (AMSTRAD part number Z70830) was designed such that it could be
   assembled without the floppy disk controller or associated logic and a
   +2 style "datacorder" connected.^[46] Originally, Amstrad planned to
   introduce an additional disk interface for the +2A/+2B called the
   AMSTRAD SI-1,^[47] but it never appeared. If an external disk drive was
   added, the "+2A" on the system OS menu would change to a +3.

   The power supply of the ZX Spectrum +2A used the same pinout as the +3.
   The power supply purchased with the +2A/B had "Sinclair +2" written on
   the case.^[48]

ZX Spectrum +3[edit]

   ZX Spectrum +3

   The ZX Spectrum +3, released in 1987, looked similar to the +2A but
   featured a built-in 3-inch floppy disk drive (like the Amstrad CPC
   6128) instead of the tape drive, and was in a black case. It was
   launched in 1987, initially retailed for -L-249^[49] and then later
   -L-199^[50] and was the only Spectrum capable of running the CP/M
   operating system without additional hardware.

   The +3 saw the addition of two more 16 KB ROMs. One was home to the
   second part of the reorganised 128 ROM and the other hosted the +3's
   disk operating system. This was a modified version of Amstrad's PCWDOS
   (the disk access code used in LocoScript), called +3DOS. These two new
   16 KB ROMs and the original two 16 KB ROMs were now physically
   implemented together as two 32 KB chips. To be able to run CP/M, which
   requires RAM at the bottom of the address space, the bank-switching was
   further improved, allowing the ROM to be paged out for another 16 KB of
   RAM.^[citation needed]

   Such core changes brought incompatibilities:
     * Removal of several lines on the expansion bus edge connector
       (video, power, and IORQGE); caused many external devices problems;
       some such as the VTX5000 modem could be used via the "FixIt"
     * Dividing ROMCS into two lines, to disable both ROMs.
     * Reading a non-existent I/O port no longer returned the last
       attribute; caused certain games such as Arkanoid to be unplayable.
     * Memory timing changes; certain RAM banks were now contended causing
       high-speed colour-changing effects to fail.
     * The keypad scanning routines from the ROM were removed.
     * Move 1 byte address in ROM.^[citation needed]

   Some older 48K and 128K games were incompatible with the machine. The
   ZX Interface 1 was incompatible due to differences in ROM and expansion
   connector, making it impossible to connect and use the Microdrive

   There was a regression in sound quality from the previous 128K models -
   an error with a resistor placement meant sound was distorted.^[52]

   The ZX Spectrum +3 power supply provides the same voltages as the one
   supplied with +2A/B. This power supply has the same DIN connector so
   can be used with the +2A/B. The power supply purchased with the +3 had
   "Sinclair +3" written on the case.^[53]

   Production of the +3 ceased in December 1990, believed to be in
   response to Amstrad relaunching their CPC range.^[54] At the time, it
   was estimated about 15% of ZX Spectrums sold had been +3 models.
   Production of the +2B (the only other model then still in production)
   continued, as it was believed not to be in competition with other
   computers in Amstrad's product range.^[55]

ZX Spectrum +2B and +3B[edit]

   The ZX Spectrum +2B and ZX Spectrum +3B were functionally similar in
   design to the Spectrum +2A and +3.^[56] The main electronic differences
   were changes to the generation of the audio output signal to resolve
   problems with clipping.^[citation needed]

   Unlike the +2A and +3, the Spectrum +2B and +3B do not share a common
   motherboard.^[citation needed] The +2B board (AMSTRAD part number
   Z70833) has no provision for floppy disk controller circuitry and the
   +3B motherboard (Amstrad part number Z70835) has no provision for
   connecting an internal tape drive. Production of all Amstrad Spectrum
   models ended in 1992.^[citation needed]

Clones and re-creations[edit]

   See also: List of ZX Spectrum clones

Official clones[edit]

   Sinclair licensed the Spectrum design to Timex Corporation in the
   United States, that sold several machines under the Timex Sinclair
   brand. An enhanced version of the original Spectrum, with better sound,
   graphics and other modifications was marketed in the US by Timex as the
   Timex Sinclair 2068. Timex's derivatives were largely incompatible with
   Sinclair systems. Some of the Timex innovations were later adopted by
   Sinclair Research. A case in point was the abortive Pandora portable
   Spectrum, whose ULA had the high resolution video mode pioneered in the
   T/S 2068. Pandora had a flat-screen monitor and Microdrives and was
   intended to be Sinclair's business portable. After Amstrad bought the
   computer business of Sinclair Research, Sir Clive retained the rights
   to the Pandora project, and it evolved into the Cambridge Computer Z88,
   launched in 1987.^[57]

   Starting in 1984, Timex of Portugal developed and produced several
   Timex branded computers, including the Timex Computer 2048, highly
   compatible with the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48K, which was very successful
   in both Portugal and Poland.^[58] An NTSC version was also made,
   initially intended for a United States release, but it was sold only in
   Chile, Ecuador and Argentina. Timex of Portugal also made a PAL version
   of the T/S 2068, called the Timex Computer 2068 (or TC 2068 for short)
   which had different buffers for both the ULA and the CPU, which
   significantly increased the compatibility with ZX Spectrum software
   when compared to the North American model (the T/S 2068). The expansion
   port was also modified and made to be 100% compatible with the ZX
   Spectrum's, which bypassed the need for a "Twister Board" expansion
   that the T/S 2068 needed to make it compatible with ZX Spectrum
   expansion hardware. It also had the AY sound output routed to the
   monitor/TV speakers instead of the internal twitter. The software
   developed for the TC 2068 is completely compatible with the T/S 2068,
   since the ROMs weren't altered. Timex of Portugal also developed a ZX
   Spectrum "emulator" on cartridge form that mapped the first 16 KB
   exactly like the earlier TC 2048 computer did. Several other upgrades
   were made available, including a BASIC64 cartridge that enabled the TC
   2068 to use high resolution (512x192) modes. Despite having an
   AY-3-8912 sound chip, it's not connected in the same ports as in the ZX
   Spectrum 128K, rendering the TC 2048 incompatible with the AY sound
   that the Spectrum 128K games produced. Due to all its advantages
   compared to the usual T/S 2068, a North American company, Zebra
   Systems, licensed the Timex TC 2068 and sold it in the United States as
   the Zebra Silver Avenger. They also sold the FDD 3000 as the Zebra FDD
   3000 in a silver case (as opposed to the European black cases) to match
   their colour scheme. Timex of Portugal was working on a successor to
   the TC 2068 called the TC 3256, using a Z80A CPU and featuring 256 KB
   of RAM, which would feature a ZX Spectrum BASIC operating mode and a
   CP/M operating mode, but the company pulled the plug on its development
   as the 8-bit market was no longer profitable by the end of 1989. Only
   one complete and fully working prototype of the TC 3256 was
   made.^[citation needed]
   deciBells dB Spectrum+ and PSU

   In India, deciBells Electronics introduced a licensed version of the
   Spectrum+ in 1988. Dubbed the "dB Spectrum+", it did reasonably well in
   the Indian market and sold many units until 1990, when the market died
   away.^[citation needed]

Unofficial clones[edit]

   Didaktik Gama

   Numerous unofficial Spectrum clones were produced, especially in the
   Eastern and Central European countries (e.g. in USSR, Romania, and
   Czechoslovakia) where several models were produced (such as the Tim-S,
   HC85, HC91, Cobra, Junior, CIP, CIP 3, Jet, Didaktik Gama), some
   featuring CP/M and a 5.25"/3.5" floppy disk. There were also clones
   produced in South America (e.g. Microdigital TK90X and TK95, made in
   Brazil and the Czerweny CZ, made in Argentina). In the Soviet Union, ZX
   Spectrum clones were assembled by thousands of small start-ups and
   distributed through poster ads and street stalls. Over 50 such clone
   models existed.^[59] Some of them are still being produced, such as the
   Pentagon and ATM Turbo.

   In the UK, Spectrum peripheral vendor Miles Gordon Technology (MGT)
   released the SAM Coupe as a potential successor with some Spectrum
   compatibility. By this point, the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST had
   taken hold of the market, leaving MGT in eventual receivership.^[60]


   In 2013, an FPGA-based redesign of the original ZX Spectrum known as
   the ZX Uno, was formally announced. All of its hardware, firmware and
   software are open source,^[61] released as Creative Commons license
   Share-alike. The use of a Spartan FPGA allows the system to not only
   re-implement the ZX Spectrum, but many other 8 bit computers and games
   consoles^[62] The device can also run modern open FPGA machines such as
   the Chloe 280SE.^[63] The Uno was successfully crowdfunded in 2016 and
   the first boards went on sale during the same year.^[64]

   In January 2014, Elite Systems, who produced a successful range of
   software for the original ZX Spectrum in the 1980s, announced plans for
   a Spectrum-themed bluetooth keyboard that would attach to mobile
   devices.^[65]^[66] The company used a crowdfunding campaign to fund the
   Recreated ZX Spectrum, which would be compatible with games the company
   had already released on iTunes and Google Play.^[67] Elite Systems took
   down its Spectrum Collection application the following month, due to
   complaints from authors of the original 1980's game software that they
   had not been paid for the content.^[68] Wired described the finished
   device, which was styled as an original Spectrum 48k keyboard, as
   "absolutely gorgeous"^[69] but said it was ultimately more of an
   expensive novelty than an actual Spectrum. In July 2019, Eurogamer
   reported that many of the orders had yet to be delivered due to a
   dispute between Elite Systems and their manufacturer, Eurotech.^[70]

   Later in 2014, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega retro video game console
   was announced by Retro Computers Ltd and crowdfunded on Indiegogo with
   the backing of Clive Sinclair.^[71] The Vega, released in 2015, took
   the form of a handheld TV game^[71]^[72] but the lack of a full
   keyboard^[73] led to criticism from reviewers due to the large number
   of text adventures supplied with the device.^[74]^[75] Most reviewers
   branded the device cheap and uncomfortable to use^[76]^[69]

   The follow-up, the ZX Spectrum Vega+ was designed as a handheld game
   console. Despite reaching its crowdfunding target in March 2016,^[77]
   the company failed to fulfil the majority of orders. On 30 July 2018,
   Eurogamer reported that one backer had received a ZX Vega+ console and
   quoted them as being "quite disappointed" that "the few supplied sample
   games don't work" and that the "build quality's not the greatest".^[78]
   Reviewing the Vega+, The Register criticised numerous aspects and
   features of the machine, including its design and build quality and
   summed up by saying that the "entire feel is plasticky and
   inconsequential".^[79] Retro Computers Ltd was wound up on 1 February

   The ZX Spectrum Next (not to be confused with the older, two-processor
   ZX Next) is an expanded and updated version of the ZX Spectrum computer
   implemented with FPGA technology^[81] funded by a Kickstarter campaign
   in April 2017,^[82] with the board-only computer delivered to backers
   later that year.^[83] The finished machine, including a case
   designed^[84] by Rick Dickinson who died during the development of the
   project, was released to backers in February 2020.^[85] MagPi called it
   "a lovely piece of kit", noting that it is "well-designed and
   well-built: authentic to the original, and with technology that nods to
   the past while remaining functional and relevant in the modern
   age".^[86] PC Pro magazine called the Next "undeniably impressive"
   while noting that the printed manual lacked an index, and that some
   features are "not quite ready".^[87] A further Kickstarter for an
   improved revision of the hardware was funded in August 2020.^[88]


   Official peripherals: the ZX Printer, the ZX Interface 2, the ZX
   Interface 1 and the ZX Microdrive

   Several peripherals were marketed by Sinclair: the ZX Printer was
   already on the market,^[89] as the ZX Spectrum expansion bus was
   partially backwards-compatible with that of the ZX81.

   The ZX Interface 1 add-on module included 8 KB of ROM, an RS-232 serial
   port, a proprietary LAN interface (called ZX Net), and an interface for
   the connection of up to eight ZX Microdrives - somewhat unreliable but
   speedy tape-loop cartridge storage devices released in July
   1983.^[90]^[91] These were used in a revised version on the Sinclair
   QL, whose storage format was electrically compatible but logically
   incompatible with the Spectrum's. Sinclair also released the ZX
   Interface 2 which added two joystick ports and a ROM cartridge
   The Kempston interface, a third-party add-on widely used for joysticks

   There were a plethora of third-party hardware addons. The better known
   of these included the Kempston joystick interface, the Morex
   Peripherals Centronics/RS-232 interface, the Currah Microspeech unit
   (speech synthesis),^[93] Videoface Digitiser,^[94] RAM pack, the
   Cheetah Marketing SpecDrum,^[95] a drum machine, and the
   Multiface,^[96] a snapshot and disassembly tool from Romantic Robot.
   Keyboards were especially popular in view of the original's notorious
   "dead flesh" feel.^[97]

   There were disk drive interfaces, such as the Abbeydale
   Designers/Watford Electronics SPDOS, Abbeydale Designers/Kempston KDOS
   and Opus Discovery. The SPDOS and KDOS interfaces were the first to
   come bundled with office productivity software (Tasword Word Processor,
   Masterfile database and Omnicalc spreadsheet). This bundle, together
   with OCP's Stock Control, Finance and Payroll systems, introduced small
   businesses to a streamlined, computerised operation. The most popular
   floppy disk systems (except in East Europe) were the DISCiPLE and +D
   systems released by Miles Gordon Technology in 1987 and 1988
   respectively. Both systems had the ability to store memory images onto
   disk snapshots could later be used to restore the Spectrum to its exact
   previous state.^[citation needed] They were both compatible with the
   Microdrive command syntax, which made porting existing software much

   During the mid-1980s, Telemap Group Ltd launched a fee-based service
   allowing users to connect their ZX Spectrums via a Prism Micro Products
   VTX5000 modem to a viewdata service known as Micronet 800, hosted by
   Prestel, which provided news and information about microcomputers. The
   service allowed a form of instant messaging and online shopping.^[99]


   Main articles: ZX Spectrum software and List of ZX Spectrum games
   Screenshots from ZX Spectrum games Rebelstar and Laser Squad

   While games comprised the majority of commercial ZX Spectrum software,
   there were also programming language implementations, databases (e.g.
   VU-File^[100]), word processors (e.g. Tasword II^[101]), spreadsheets
   (e.g. VU-Calc^[100]), drawing and painting tools (e.g. OCP Art
   Studio^[102]), and even 3D-modelling (e.g. VU-3D^[103]^[104]) and
   archaeology software.^[105]

   The early Spectrum models' great success as a games platform came in
   spite of its lack of built-in joystick ports, primitive sound
   generation, and colour support that was optimised for text
   display:^[106]^[failed verification] the hardware limitations of the
   platform required a particular level of creativity from video game

   From August 1982,^[108] the ZX Spectrum came bundled with a software
   starter pack in the form of a cassette tape entitled Horizons: Software
   Starter Pack,^[109] which included 8 programs: Thro' the Wall (a
   Breakout clone), Bubblesort, Evolution (an ecosystem of foxes and
   rabbits), Life (an implementation of Conway's Game of Life), Draw (a
   basic object-based drawing utility), Monte Carlo (a simulation of the
   rolling of two dice), Character Generator (for editing user defined
   graphics), Beating of Waves (plots the sum of two sine
   waves).^[citation needed]

   According to the 90th issue of the British gaming magazine GamesMaster,
   the ten best games released were (in descending order) Head Over Heels,
   Jet Set Willy, Skool Daze, Renegade, R-Type, Knight Lore, Dizzy, The
   Hobbit, The Way of the Exploding Fist, and Match Day II.^[110]

   The last full price, commercial game to be released for the Spectrum
   was Alternative Software's Dalek Attack, which was released in July
   1993.^[citation needed]

   A homebrew community continues into the present day,^[citation needed]
   with several games being released commercially from new software houses
   such as Cronosoft.^[citation needed]


   Most Spectrum software was originally distributed on audio cassette
   tapes. The Spectrum was intended to work with a normal domestic
   cassette recorder.^[111]

   Although the ZX Microdrive was initially greeted with good
   reviews,^[112] it never took off as a distribution method due to
   worries about the quality of the cartridges and piracy.^[113] Hence the
   main use became to complement tape releases, usually utilities and
   niche products like the Tasword word processing software and Trans
   Express, (a tape to microdrive copying utility). No games are known to
   be exclusively released on Microdrive.^[citation needed]

   Although the Interface 2 proved popular, the high cost of ROM
   cartridges, and the fact that they were limited to 16K in size, meant
   that very few titles were released in this format.^[114]

   Software was distributed through print media; magazines^[115] and
   books.^[116] The reader would type the BASIC program listing into the
   computer by hand, run it, and could save it to tape for later use.
   Software distributed in this way was in general simpler and slower than
   its assembly language counterparts. Magazines printed long lists of
   checksummed hexadecimal digits with machine code games or tools.

   Another software distribution method was to broadcast the audio stream
   from the cassette on another medium and have users record it onto an
   audio cassette themselves. In radio or television shows in many
   European countries, the host would describe a program, instruct the
   audience to connect a cassette tape recorder to the radio or TV and
   then broadcast the program over the airwaves in audio format.^[117]
   Some magazines distributed 7" 33
   1/3 rpm flexidisc records, a variant of regular vinyl records which
   could be played on a standard record player.^[118] These disks were
   known under various trademarked names including "Floppy ROM",
   "Flexisoft", and "Discoflex".

Copying and backup[edit]

   Spectrum software was distributed almost exclusively on audio cassettes

   Many copiers--utilities to copy programs from audio tape to another
   tape, microdrive tapes, and later on diskettes--were available for the
   Spectrum. As a response to this, publishers introduced copy protection
   measures to their software, including different loading schemes.^[119]
   Other methods for copy prevention were also used including asking for a
   particular word from the documentation included with the game--often a
   novella such as the Silicon Dreams trilogy--or another physical device
   distributed with the software--e.g. Lenslok as used in Elite, or the
   colour-code chart included with Jet Set Willy. Special hardware, such
   as Romantic Robot's Multiface, was able to dump a copy of the ZX
   Spectrum RAM to disk/tape at the press of a button, entirely
   circumventing the copy protection systems.^[citation needed]

   Most Spectrum software has been converted to current media and is
   available for download. One popular program for converting Spectrum
   files from tape is Taper; it allows connecting a cassette tape player
   to the line in port of a sound card, or--through a simple home-built
   device--to the parallel port of a PC.^[120] Once in files on a host
   machine, the software can be executed on an emulator.
   See also: List of computer system emulators S: Sinclair ZX Spectrum and


   The ZX Spectrum enjoyed a very strong community early on. Several
   commercially published print magazines were dedicated to covering the
   home computer family and its offshoots including Sinclair User (1982),
   Your Spectrum (1983) - rebranded as Your Sinclair in 1986, and CRASH
   (1984). In the early years, the magazines were focused on programming
   for the system, and carried many articles containing type-in programs
   and machine code tutorials. Later on they became almost completely
   game-oriented, starting many of the writing-styles, trends and tropes
   found in later video-game publications and reviews.^[citation needed]

   Several other contemporary computer magazines covered the ZX Spectrum
   as part of their regular coverage of the home computer industry at that
   time. These included Computer Gamer, Computer and Video Games,
   Computing Today, Popular Computing Weekly, Your Computer and The Games
   Machine.^[121]^[failed verification]

   The Spectrum is affectionately known as the Speccy by elements of its
   fan following.^[122]

   More than 80 electronic magazines existed, many in Russian. Most
   notable of them were AlchNews (UK), Enigma Tape Magazine (UK), 16/48
   (UK), ZX-Format (Russia), Adventurer (Russia), Microhobby (Spain) and
   Spectrofon (Russia). These frequently included games, demos, and
   utilities alongside the magazine content (much like a covertape on a
   paper magazine).^[citation needed]

Notable developers[edit]

   A number of notable games developers began their careers on the ZX
   Spectrum, including David Perry of Shiny Entertainment, and Tim and
   Chris Stamper (founders of Rare, formerly Ultimate Play the Game, maker
   of many games for Nintendo and Microsoft game consoles). Other
   prominent games developers include Julian Gollop (Chaos, Rebelstar,
   X-COM series), Matthew Smith (Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy), Jon Ritman
   (Match Day, Head Over Heels), Jonathan "Joffa" Smith (Ping Pong,
   Batman: The Caped Crusader, Mikie, Hyper Sports), The Oliver Twins (the
   Dizzy series), Clive Townsend (Saboteur), Sandy White (Ant Attack; I,
   of the Mask), Pete Cooke (Tau Ceti), Mike Singleton (The Lords of
   Midnight, War in Middle Earth),^[citation needed] and Alan Cox.^[123]
   Although the 48K Spectrum's audio hardware was not as capable as chips
   in other popular 8-bit home computers of the era, computer musicians
   David Whittaker and Tim Follin produced notable multi-channel music for
   it.^[citation needed]

   Jeff Minter ported some of his Commodore VIC-20 games to the ZX


   BYTE in January 1983 acknowledged the appeal of the Spectrum's low
   -L-125 price to British consumers and called it a "promising machine".
   It criticised the keyboard; "inexpensive or not, the ... layout is
   impossible to justify ... poorly designed in several respects". The
   review was sceptical of the computer's appeal to American consumers if
   sold for US$220--"hardly competitive with comparable low-cost American
   units"--and expected that Timex would sell it for $125-150.^[125]


   On 23 April 2012, a Google doodle honoured the 30th anniversary of the
   Spectrum. As it coincided with St George's Day, the logo was of St
   George fighting a dragon in the style of a Spectrum loading

   In December 2018, one of the alternate endings in Black Mirror:
   Bandersnatch included the main character playing data tape audio that,
   when loaded into a ZX Spectrum software emulator, generates a QR code
   leading to a website with a playable version of the Nohzdyve game
   featured in the episode.^[127]

   Some programmers have continued to code for the platform by using
   emulators on PCs.^[128]

   Since 2020, there has been a museum, LOAD ZX Spectrum, dedicated to the
   ZX Spectrum and other Sinclair products (as well as Timex, Investronica
   and many others), located in Cantanhede, Portugal.^[129]

See also[edit]

     * Video games portal
     * icon 1980s portal
     * flag United Kingdom portal

     * List of computer system emulators#Sinclair ZX Spectrum and clones
     * List of ZX Spectrum games
     * ZX Spectrum graphic modes
     * ZX Spectrum character set
     * Contended memory


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