From Sean Dennis@1:18/200 to All on Sun Apr 24 23:54:24 2022
FGAZ 18-10 Page 3 25 Apr 2022
having a foreground and background color. While static color images
could work relatively well, the approach resulted in the infamous
attribute clash. Rival machines, such as the Commodore 64, did not
suffer from the same problem although used a lower multicolor
resolution made for blockier graphics.
Ah, the playground discussions that ensued over sprites, peeks, and
pokes. Those were the days.
The ZX Spectrum, replete with rubber keyboard, debuted at 125 pounds
for the 16KB version and 175 pounds for the 48KB incarnation. A 32KB
RAM pack could be plugged into the rear expansion slot of the former,
and this writer well remembers the joy of an unexpected reset caused
by a wobbly bit of hardware.
Over five million of the Z80A-based devices were sold, and its impact
cannot be understated. While over 1.5 million BBC Micros (made by
Acorn) may have also been sold during its lifetime, it was the ZX
Spectrum that found its way into far more homes across Europe, and its
impact continues to resonate in the IT world of today.
Raspberry Pi supremo Eben Upton was more on the Acorn side of things,
but recalled the effect of the plastic slab: "As a much more
affordable alternative to the Beeb, and with roughly 3x the lifetime
sales, the Spectrum probably had a greater role in promoting the
accidental route into engineering careers in the '80s and early '90s."
"Lots of people here at Pi Towers had their first exposure to
programming on Sinclair hardware," Upton said, "and I personally have
a lot of respect for the Sinclair team's single-minded focus on
engineering to a target cost."
The original ZX Spectrum enjoyed a relatively short time in the sun,
and was discontinued in favor of the functionally identical (but
recased with an updated keyboard) ZX Spectrum+ in 1985. Later versions
received more RAM and, with the Amstrad takeover, another keyboard
update, built-in cassette recorder, and disk drive.
Clones would also crop up from time to time, including the recent (and
infamous) ZX Spectrum Vega+. A warm bath of nostalgia is also possible
via a variety of on and offline emulators.
Sadly, Sir Clive Sinclair and Rick Dickinson are no longer with us.
However, hardware designer Richard Altwasser and Dr Steve Vickers will
be on hand at The National Museum of Computing on April 23 for a live
and virtual Q&A, preceded by the same with Sir Clive's son, Crispin.
In the meantime, this seems as good a time as ever to indulge in a
little bit of rose-tinted nostalgia. Music by MJ Hibbett and with
animation by Rob Manuel. (R)