07 June 2007

The Sinclair ZX80 and ZX81

Computer 'for all the family' is launched

From the Cambridge Evening News, 29/1/1980

The ZX80 personal computer was launched by Sinclair Research Ltd of Cambridge today.

It can be used in the office, the factory and the home.

And the creator, Mr Clive Sinclair, said: I should think any child of 10 with normal arithmetical ability could use it."

Mr Sinclair claims the new machine is smaller than anything of comparable performance and also four times as cheap.

"It's the biggest leap we've ever made in terms of price and technology," he said.

Mr Sinclair founded Sinclair Radionics Ltd of St Ives. He was the first on the market with a pocket-sized electronic calculator and with a mini television set, the Microvision.

He left Sinclair Radionics last year to set up Sinclair Research.

The machine has been developed by a team based at Sinclair Research's King's Parade [Cambridge] offices - but will be made by a West Country firm.

Kit forms will come on the market next month at £77.95 and a completely built version in March at £99.95.

Mr Sinclair said: "We couldn't find a manufacturer nearer with the production and test facilities we require, so that's why we had to look further afield."

He believed experts would account for 80 per cent of production.

The new machine uses a Japanese chip to drive its mathematical functions. It can be plugged into an ordinary television set, standard computers or print-out machines if a permanent record is required.

The "software" - that is the programs - can be operated through a standard tape cassette, as found in home music centres and small portable tape recorders.

With the ZX80 comes a 130-page step-by-step manual written by the leader of the computer group at Cambridge Consultants, Mr Hugo Davenport.

A full page magazine advertisement for the Sinclair ZX80, The Sunday Times Magazine, December, 1980.

Advertisement from the Daily Mirror, 13/7/1981...
Sinclair ZX81 Personal Computer

£69. 95

Including FREE course in computing, FREE mains adaptor, AND VAT.

Inside a day, you'll be talking to it like a new friend.

If computers interest you, you'll find the ZX81 totally absorbing.

But more than that, you'll find it of immense practical value. The computer understanding it gives you will be useful in any business or professional sphere. And the grounding it gives your children will equip them for the rest of their lives.

The ZX81 cuts away computer mystique. It takes you straight into BASIC, the most common, easy-to-use computer language.

You simply take it out of its box, plug it in to your TV, switch it on at the mains - and start. With the manual in your hand, you'll be running programs in an hour. Within a week, you'll be writing complex programs of your own, with confidence and competence.

All for under £70!

The features that make the ZX81 easy to learn on, also make it easy to use.

The ZX81 is deigned with special considerations for the beginner. So it has built in a uniquely simple way of entering commands - and of spotting mistakes before it's too late to correct them easily.

But this doesn't mean it's a a junior computer. The ZX81 is a very fast and powerful computer, quite capable of the work you associate with much larger, more expensive personal computers.
How can anyone offer a real computer for only £69.95?

In a word - design! We've taken the conventional computer and packaged it onto just four extremely powerful chips.

The outcome is not just a computer, but the heart of a computer system. As your skills and needs develop, your ZX81 keeps pace.

You can add 16 times more memory with the Sinclair 16K-byte RAM pack.

Very soon, we'll have our own printer.

And you'll receive details of ZX software (programs pre-recorded on cassette) with your ZX81-games, junior education and business/household management.

Your course in computing.

The ZX81 comes complete with a new 212-page guide to computing. The book assumes no prior knowledge and represents a complete course in the subject, from first principles to quite complex programs.

It's structured to balance theory and practice - you learn by doing, not just by reading. It makes learning easy and enjoyable.

Price includes mains adaptor, TV and cassette-recorder leads and VAT.

Your TV, black and white or colur, is all that's needed as a display. Normal reception is not affected.

Your ZX81 comes complete with leads and plugs for immediate connection to the aerial socket of any domestic TV.

The price also includes a compatible mains adaptor (worth £8.95) and connections for a portable cassette recorder - if you choose to use one as a useful extra for storing programs on ordinary blank cassette tape.

ZX81 specifications:

Z80A micro-processor - new, faster version of the world-famous Z80 chip.

Unique 'one-touch' key word eliminates much tiresome typing.

Unique syntax-check and report codes identify programming errors immediately.

Full range of maths and science functions accurate to eight decimal places.

Graph-drawing and animated displays.

Multi-dimensional string and numerical arrays.

Up to 26 FOR/NEXT loops.

Randomise function - useful for games as well as more serious applications.

Cassette LOAD and SAVE with named programs.

1K-byte RAM expandable to 16K bytes with Sinclair RAM pack.

Able to drive the new Sinclair printer (not available yet - but coming soon!).
The illustration above, and the two below, are from an advertisement featured in Your Computer magazine, February,1982.

1980 saw a genuine breakthrough - the Sinclair ZX80, world's first complete personal computer for under £100. Not surprisingly, over 50,000 were sold.
In March 1981, the Sinclair lead increased dramatically. For just £69.95 the Sinclair ZX81 offers even more advanced facilities at an even lower price.
Initially, even we were surprised by the demand - over 50,000 in the first three months.
Today, the Sinclair ZX81 is the heart of a computer system. You can add 16-times more memory with the ZX RAM pack. The ZX printer offers an unbeatable combination of performance and price. And the ZX software library is growing every day...
For '80s Actual stuff on the launch of the ZX Spectrum - click here.

For a look at some computers on sale in 1983 - click here.

For some newspaper publicity for the 1985 C5 car - click here.