Rick Dickinson, ZX Spectrum designer, RIP

Liam Proven lproven at gmail.com
Thu Apr 26 16:11:07 CDT 2018

On Thu, 26 Apr 2018 at 22:41, TeoZ via cctalk <cctalk at classiccmp.org> wrote:

> My first computer was a Timex 2068 just before Timex got out of
computers. I
> had seen advertisements for the 1000 model but it looked like junk at the
> time (no real keyboard, you needed to have the 16K RAM cart to do
> Still the 1000 was CHEAP.

It was, but very limited. The UK model had 1 kB of RAM, no sound, no
graphics, no colour, 32*20 text, and a limited 8 kB ROM BASIC. Expansion at
the time was limited to a tiny cash-register-style printer and a 16 kB RAM
expansion, and that was it.

The Spectrum had 48 kB RAM, a slightly more flexible 16 kB BASIC with
graphics and sound commands, 256*192 graphics in 16 colours (kinda), and
could drive disk drives, printers, joysticks, modems, whatever you could

For me, more interested in programming than games, it was better than a C64
-- the 64 was expensive in the UK, its disk drive slow and also expensive,
and its BASIC was rubbish. Better keyboard, though, and yes, much better
sound and graphics.

The big limitation of the Spectrum was the piezo beeper sound and the
limited graphics. The TS2068 fixed both: it added a AY-3-8910 sound chip, 2
more screen modes (512*192 and 256*192 with 32*192 colour resolution
instead of the Spectrum's 32*22) -- and the ROM could be paged out to run

It's a tragedy that Sinclar never adopted those enhancements for the
Spectrum 128... or that Amstrad didn't merge the Spectrum and CPC lines
when it bought the Sinclair product line.

> When I vacationed in Greece for a summer between HS  and college in the
> I remember seeing all the advertisements for the Sinclair models with the
> wafer drives and thought they were cool looking. I think I even seen a few
> real models at the airport shops.

Yep, probably.

But I'm told the Spectrum never made a profit for Sinclair Research,
whereas the ZX81 was very lucrative for them.

> Still using anything other then a disk drive was a pain


> and that device
> seemed too expensive for Europe at that time.

Yep. :-(

> Even after I promptly purchased a used C64 from a friend I still looked at
> the mailing lists for Timex/Sinclair products sold out of NYC shops. They
> had all kinds of add-ons and some software to make the units workable but
> most of it was for the 1000 model which must have sold quite a few units
> before being discontinued compared to my 2068.

Apparently so!

Liam Proven • Profile: https://about.me/liamproven
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