An American perspective on the late great Sir Clive Sinclair, from Fast Company

Liam Proven lproven at
Mon Sep 27 07:23:26 CDT 2021

On Mon, 27 Sept 2021 at 13:38, Jules Richardson via cctalk
<cctalk at> wrote:
>  From the other side of that, growing up in the UK, nobody I knew talked
> about Apple or Atari, and Commodore was only on the radar because of the
> C64's capability as a games machine (and later the Amiga) - I don't think I
> even saw a PET prior to 2005, although I know there were a few infestations
> of them here and there :-)
> In other words, I'm not entirely surprised.

Excellent point, yes.

> Thoughts on what might have happened had the BBC's Computer Literacy
> Project never come about? Sometimes I wonder about that. Acorn might have
> remained more focused on business hardware, and the Spectrum would have
> appeared but perhaps not taken off in the way that it did. Would other
> competing domestic machines have become more widespread? Or would the
> country have seen the likes of Apple get a foothold earlier than they did?

(!) That's a tremendous "what if" question! :-)

I find it interesting that I never saw or even heard of the Acorn Atom
until ~25Y after it was discontinued. Compared to the ZX-81 it was an
amazing machine, clearly much better in every way -- but also about
3-4x the price, so just not competitive at the time.

I think the Acorn Proton -- later renamed the "BBC Micro" of course --
would have gone the same way without the Beeb backing it. Good spec,
tremendous features, but just too expensive and given that it was an
educational machine, not competitive as a home/games computer with the

And if the BBC Micro flopped, there'd be no ARM chip. Possibly meaning
no Apple Newton. And that might have massively delayed smartphones,
because basically all smartphones are ARM-based.

Similarly to the way that without the unholy combination of IBM,
Microsoft, OS/2 and Windows, then we might have all had Digital
Research OSes and multitasking before we got inexpensive GUI
computers... and the PC industry would have gone in a very different

Possibly to the advantage of Atari and Commodore.

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